Portal:United Kingdom
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Portal:United Kingdom

The United Kingdom Portal

Flag of the United Kingdom
Coat of Arms for the United Kingdom
Map of the United Kingdom in the British Isles.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to its east, the English Channel to its south and the Celtic Sea to its south-south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

The UK is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state. The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include the conurbations centred on Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Liverpool.

The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Their capitals are London, Belfast, Edinburgh, and Cardiff respectively. Apart from England, the countries have devolved administrations, each with varying powers. The nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former colonies.

The United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a very high Human Development Index, ranking 14th in the world. It was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence internationally. It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946. It has been a leading member state of the European Union (EU) and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), since 1973; however, a referendum in 2016 resulted in 51.9% of UK voters favouring leaving the European Union, and the country's exit is being negotiated. The United Kingdom is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Interpol and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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Portrait of William Wordsworth by William Shuter

The Lucy poems are a series of five poems composed by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth between 1798 and 1801. All but one were first published in the second edition of Lyrical Ballads in 1800, a collaboration between Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge that was both Wordsworth's first major publication and a milestone in the early English Romantic movement. In the series, Wordsworth sought to write unaffected English verse infused with abstract ideals of beauty, nature, love, longing and death. Although they individually deal with a variety of themes, as a series they focus on the poet's longing for the company of his friend Coleridge, who had stayed in England, and on his increasing impatience with his sister Dorothy, who had travelled with him abroad. Wordsworth channeled his frustrations into an examination of unrequited love for the idealised character of Lucy, an English girl who has died young. The idea of her death weighs heavily on the poet throughout the series, imbuing it with a melancholic, elegiac tone. Whether Lucy was based on a real woman or was a figment of the poet's imagination has long been a matter of debate among scholars. The "Lucy poems" consist of "Strange fits of passion have I known", "She dwelt among the untrodden ways", "I travelled among unknown men", "Three years she grew in sun and shower", and "A slumber did my spirit seal". (more...)

Featured biography

Cosmo Gordon Lang (1864-1945) was an Anglican prelate who served as Archbishop of York and Archbishop of Canterbury. As Archbishop of Canterbury during the abdication crisis of 1936 he took a strong moral stance, and comments he made in a subsequent broadcast were widely condemned as uncharitable towards the departed king. In his early ministry Lang served in slum parishes in Leeds and Portsmouth before his appointment in 1901 as suffragan Bishop of Stepney in London. In 1908 Lang was nominated Archbishop of York, despite his relatively junior status as a suffragan rather than a diocesan bishop. He entered the House of Lords as a Lord Spiritual and caused consternation in traditionalist circles by speaking and voting against the Lords' proposal to reject David Lloyd George's 1909 "People's Budget". This apparent radicalism was not, however, maintained in later years. At the start of World War I, Lang was heavily criticised for a speech in which he spoke sympathetically of the Kaiser. After the war he supported controversial proposals for the revision of the Book of Common Prayer, but after acceding to Canterbury he took no practical steps to resolve this issue. As Archbishop of Canterbury he presided over the 1930 Lambeth Conference, which gave limited church approval to the use of contraception. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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The Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster, colloquially known as "Big Ben", in Westminster, London.
Photo credit: Diliff

The Clock Tower is a turret clock structure at the north-eastern end of the Houses of Parliament building in Westminster, London. It is popularly known as Big Ben, but this name actually belongs to the clock's main bell. The tower has also been referred to as St. Stephen's Tower or The Tower of Big Ben, in reference to its bell.

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Wikinews UK

15 November 2018 - Cabinet of the United Kingdom, Brexit negotiations
Minister of State for Northern Ireland Shailesh Vara, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab, and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey resign in protest of Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan. (BBC) (Bloomberg) (The Telegraph)
Conservative Party backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, with the backing of at least a dozen Tory MPs, says he will submit a letter to the chair of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, to trigger a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Theresa May. (The Guardian)
14 November 2018 - Brexit negotiations
British Prime Minister Theresa May wins approval of her Brexit plan from her cabinet, although many Conservative and opposition MPs voice strong disapproval. (The Guardian) (Politics Home)
13 November 2018 - Brexit
The Government of the United Kingdom says that UK and EU negotiators reached a draft agreement and that it will be discussed by Cabinet tomorrow. (AP via ABC News)
11 November 2018 - Killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Foreign relations of Saudi Arabia
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an says that recordings related to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi were issued to Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France. (CNN)
9 November 2018 -
A convoy accident involving British Prime Minister Theresa May and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel interrupts an Armistice Day trip after two police motorbikes were knocked over. (Sky News) (Reuters)

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