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Introduction United Kingdom
Great Britain, dominant industrial and maritime power of 19th century, played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith, British Empire stretched over one-fourth of earth's surface. first half of 20th century saw UK's strength seriously depleted in two World Wars. second half witnessed dismantling of Empire and UK rebuilding itself into a modern and prosperous European nation. As one of five permanent members of UN Security Council, a founding member of NATO, and of Commonwealth, UK pursues a globel approach to foreign policy; it currently is weighing degree of its integration with continental Europe. A member of EU, it chose to remain outside European Monetary Union for time being. Constitutional reform is also a significant issue in UK. Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, and Northern Ireland Assembly were established in 1999.
Geography United Kingdom
Western Europe, islands includes northern one-sixth of island of Ireland between North Atlantic Ocean and North Sea, northwest of France
Geographic coordinates:
54 00 N, 2 00 W
Map references:
total: 244,820 sq km
water: 3,230 sq km
note: includes Rockall and Shetland Islands
land: 241,590 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries:
total: 360 km
border countries: Ireland 360 km
12,429 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: as defined in continental shelf orders or in accordance with agreed upon boundaries
exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of days are overcast
mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Fens -4 m
highest point: Ben Nevis 1,343 m
Natural resources:
coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, silica, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 26.41%
permanent crops: 0.18%
other: 73.41% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
1,080 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
winter windstorms; floods
Environment - current issues:
continues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (has met Kyoto Protocol target of a 12.5% reduction from 1990 levels and intends to meet legally binding target and move towards a domestic goal of a 20% cut in emissions by 2010); by 2005 government aims to reduce amount of industrial and commercial waste disposed of in landfill sites to 85% of 1998 levels and to recycle or compost at least 25% of household waste, increasing to 33% by 2015; between 1998-99 and 1999-2000, household recycling increased from 8.8% to 10.3%
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note:
lies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from France and now linked by tunnel under English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters
People United Kingdom
Total Population:
60,094,648 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 18.3% (male 5,621,590; female 5,350,319)
15-64 years: 66.1% (male 20,067,529; female 19,626,123)
65 years and over: 15.6% (male 3,987,457; female 5,441,630) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 38.4 years
male: 37.3 years
female: 39.5 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
0.3% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
10.99 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
10.21 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
2.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female
Population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 5.28 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 5.89 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 78.16 years
male: 75.74 years
female: 80.7 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.66 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
34,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
460 (2001 est.)
noun: Briton(s), British (collective plural)
adjective: British
Ethnic groups:
English 81.5%, Scottish 9.6%, Irish 2.4%, Welsh 1.9%, Ulster 1.8%, West Indian, Indian, Pakistani, and other 2.8%
Anglican and Roman Catholic 40 million, Muslim 1.5 million, Presbyterian 800,000, Methodist 760,000, Sikh 500,000, Hindu 500,000, Jewish 350,000
English, Welsh (about 26% of population of Wales), Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland)
definition: age 15 and over has completed five or more years of schooling
Population: 99% (2000 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%
Government United Kingdom
Country name:
conventional long form: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
conventional short form: United Kingdom
abbreviation: UK
Government type:
constitutional monarchy
Administrative divisions:
England - 47 boroughs, 36 counties*, 29 London boroughs**, 12 cities and boroughs***, 10 districts****, 12 cities*****, 3 royal boroughs******; Barking and Dagenham**, Barnet**, Barnsley, Bath and North East Somerset****, Bedfordshire*, Bexley**, Birmingham***, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bracknell Forest, Bradford***, Brent**, Brighton and Hove, City of Bristol*****, Bromley**, Buckinghamshire*, Bury, Calderdale, Cambridgeshire*, Camden**, Cheshire*, Cornwall*, Coventry***, Croydon**, Cumbria*, Darlington, Derby*****, Derbyshire*, Devon*, Doncaster, Dorset*, Dudley, Durham*, Ealing**, East Riding of Yorkshire****, East Sussex*, Enfield**, Essex*, Gateshead, Gloucestershire*, Greenwich**, Hackney**, Halton, Hammersmith and Fulham**, Hampshire*, Haringey**, Harrow**, Hartlepool, Havering**, Herefordshire*, Hertfordshire*, Hillingdon**, Hounslow**, Isle of Wight*, Islington**, Kensington and Chelsea******, Kent*, City of Kingston upon Hull*****, Kingston upon Thames******, Kirklees, Knowsley, Lambeth**, Lancashire*, Leeds***, Leicester*****, Leicestershire*, Lewisham**, Lincolnshire*, Liverpool***, City of London*****, Luton, Manchester***, Medway, Merton**, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newcastle upon Tyne***, Newham**, Norfolk*, Northamptonshire*, North East Lincolnshire****, North Lincolnshire****, North Somerset****, North Tyneside, Northumberland*, North Yorkshire*, Nottingham*****, Nottinghamshire*, Oldham, Oxfordshire*, Peterborough*****, Plymouth*****, Poole, Portsmouth*****, Reading, Redbridge**, Redcar and Cleveland, Richmond upon Thames**, Rochdale, Rotherham, Rutland****, Salford***, Shropshire*, Sandwell, Sefton, Sheffield***, Slough, Solihull, Somerset*, Southampton*****, Southend-on-Sea, South Gloucestershire****, South Tyneside, Southwark**, Staffordshire*, St. Helens, Stockport, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent*****, Suffolk*, Sunderland***, Surrey*, Sutton**, Swindon, Tameside, Telford and Wrekin****, Thurrock, Torbay, Tower Hamlets**, Trafford, Wakefield***, Walsall, Waltham Forest**, Wandsworth**, Warrington, Warwickshire*, West Berkshire****, Westminster***, West Sussex*, Wigan, Wiltshire*, Windsor and Maidenhead******, Wirral, Wokingham****, Wolverhampton, Worcestershire*, York*****; Northern Ireland - 24 districts, 2 cities*, 6 counties**; Antrim, County Antrim**, Ards, Armagh, County Armagh**, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Belfast*, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Coleraine, Cookstown, Craigavon, Down, County Down**, Dungannon, Fermanagh, County Fermanagh**, Larne, Limavady, Lisburn, County Londonderry**, Derry*, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newry and Mourne, Newtownabbey, North Down, Omagh, Strabane, County Tyrone**; Scotland - 32 council areas; Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Scottish Borders, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, Eilean Siar (Western Isles), West Lothian; Wales - 11 county boroughs, 9 counties*, 2 cities and counties**; Isle of Anglesey*, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff**, Ceredigion*, Carmarthenshire*, Conwy, Denbighshire*, Flintshire*, Gwynedd, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire*, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Pembrokeshire*, Powys*, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Swansea**, Torfaen, Vale of Glamorgan*, Wrexham
Dependent areas:
Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands
England has existed as a unified entity since 10th century; union between England and Wales, begun in 1284 with Statute of Rhuddlan, previously not formalized until 1536 with an Act of Union; in another Act of Union in 1707, England and Scotland agreed to permanently join as Great Britain; legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland previously implemented in 1801, with adoption of name United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 formalized a partition of Ireland; six northern Irish counties remained part of United Kingdom as Northern Ireland and current name of country, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, previously adopted in 1927
National holiday:
Official Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, celebrated on second Saturday in June (1926)
unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice
Legal system:
common law tradition with early Roman and modern continental influences; has judicial review of Acts of Parliament under Human Rights Act of 1998; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); Heir Apparent Prince CHARLES (son of queen, born 14 November 1948)
head of government: Prime Minister Anthony (Tony) BLAIR (since 2 May 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by prime minister
elections: none; monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, leader of majority party or leader of majority coalition is usually prime minister
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament comprised of House of Lords (consists of approximately 500 life peers, 92 hereditary peers and 26 clergy) and House of Commons (659 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms unless House is dissolved earlier)
elections: House of Lords - no elections (note - in 1999, as provided by House of Lords Act, elections were held in House of Lords to determine 92 hereditary peers who would remain there; pending further reforms, elections are held only as vacancies in hereditary peerage arise); House of Commons - last held 7 June 2001 (next to be held by NA May 2006)
election results: House of Commons - percent of vote by party - Labor 42.1%, Conservative and Unionist 32.7%, Liberal Democrats 18.8%, other 6.4%; seats by party - Labor 412, Conservative and Unionist 166, Liberal Democrat 52, other 29; note - seating as of 15 February 2002: Labor 410, Conservative 164, Liberal Democrats 53, other 32
note: in 1998 elections were held for a Northern Ireland Parliament (because of unresolved disputes among existing parties, transfer of power from London to Northern Ireland came only at end of 1999 and has been rescinded three times latest occurring in October 2002; since October 2002 Northern Ireland Parliament has been suspended); in 1999 there were elections for a new Scottish Parliament and a new Welsh Assembly
Judicial branch:
House of Lords (highest court of appeal; several Lords of Appeal in Ordinary are appointed by monarch for life); Supreme Courts of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (comprising Courts of Appeal, High Courts of Justice, and Crown Courts); Scotland's Court of Session and Court of Justiciary
Political parties and leaders:
Conservative and Unionist Party [Michael HOWARD]; Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [Rev. Ian PAISLEY]; Labor Party [Anthony (Tony) BLAIR]; Liberal Democrats [Charles KENNEDY]; Party of Wales (Plaid Cymru) [Ieuan Wyn Jones]; Scottish National Party or SNP [John SWINNEY]; Sinn Fein (Northern Ireland) [Gerry ADAMS]; Social Democratic and Labor Party or SDLP (Northern Ireland) [Mark DURKAN]; Ulster Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [David TRIMBLE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Confederation of British Industry; National Farmers' Union; Trades Union Congress
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador David G. MANNING
chancery: 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
FAX: [1] (202) 588-7870
consulate(s): Dallas, Denver, Miami, and Seattle
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
telephone: [1] (202) 588-6500
Diplomatic representation from US:
chief of mission: Ambassador William S. FARISH
embassy: 24/31 Grosvenor Square, London, W1A1AE
mailing address: PSC 801, Box 40, FPO AE 09498-4040
telephone: [44] (0) 7499-9000
FAX: [44] (0) 7629-9124
consulate(s) general: Belfast, Edinburgh
Flag description:
blue field with red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England) edged in white superimposed on diagonal red cross of Saint Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), which is superimposed on diagonal white cross of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland); properly known as Union Flag, but commonly called Union Jack; design and colors (especially Blue Ensign) have been basis for a number of other flags includes other Commonwealth countries and their constituent states or provinces, as well as British overseas territories
Economy United Kingdom
Economy - overview:
UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is one of quartet of trillion dollar economies of Western Europe. Over past two decades government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of labor force. UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP, one of highest shares of any industrial nation. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance. GDP growth slipped in 2001-03 as globel downturn, high value of pound, and bursting of "new economy" bubble hurt manufacturing and exports. Still, economy is one of strongest in Europe; inflation, interest rates, and unemployment remain low. relatively good economic performance has complicated BLAIR government's efforts to make a case for Britain to join European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Critics point out, however, that economy is doing well outside of EMU, and they point to public opinion polls that continue to show a majority of Britons opposed to single currency. Meantime, government has been speeding up improvement of education, transport, and health services, at a cost in higher taxes. war in March-April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq, together with subsequent problems of restoring economy and polity, involve a heavy commitment of British military forces.
buying power parity - $1.528 trillion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.8% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $25,500 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 24.9%
services: 73.7% (2000)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 27.7% (1995)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
36.8 (1995)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.1% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
29.7 million (2001)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 1%, industry 25%, services 74% (1999)
Unemployment rate:
5.2% (2002 est.)
revenues: $565 billion
expenditures: $540 billion, includes capital expenditures of $NA (FY 01)
machine tools, electric power equipment, automation equipment, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, electronics and communications equipment, metals, chemicals, coal, petroleum, paper and paper products, food processing, textiles, clothing, and other consumer goods
Industrial production growth rate:
-3.4% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
360.9 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 73.8%
hydro: 0.9%
other: 1.6% (2001)
nuclear: 23.7%
Electricity - consumption:
346.1 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
264 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
10.66 billion kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
2.541 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
1.71 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
2.205 million bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
1.418 million bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
4.741 billion bbl (37257)
Natural gas - production:
105.9 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
92.85 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
15.75 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
2.7 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
714.9 billion cu m (37257)
Agriculture - products:
cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, poultry; fish
$286.3 billion f.o.b. (2002)
Exports - commodities:
manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco
Exports - partners:
US 15.5%, Germany 11.2%, France 9.4%, Ireland 8%, Netherlands 7.1%, Belgium 5.2%, Italy 4.4%, Spain 4.3% (2002)
$330.1 billion f.o.b. (2002)
Imports - commodities:
manufactured goods, machinery, fuels; foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
Germany 12.9%, US 11.9%, France 7.8%, Netherlands 6.3%, Belgium 5%, Italy 4.4% (2002)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $4.5 billion (2000)
British pound (GBP)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
British pounds per US dollar - 0.67 (2002), 0.69 (2001), 0.66 (2000), 0.62 (1999), 0.6 (1998)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications United Kingdom
Telephones - main lines in use:
34.878 million (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
43.5 million (yearend 1998)
Telephone system:
general assessment: technologically advanced domestic and international system
domestic: equal mix of buried cables, microwave radio relay, and fiber-optic systems
international: 40 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 10 Intelsat (7 Atlantic Ocean and 3 Indian Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean region), and 1 Eutelsat; at least 8 large international switching centers
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 219, FM 431, shortwave 3 (1998)
84.5 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
228 (plus 3,523 repeaters) (1995)
30.5 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
more than 400 (2000)
Internet users:
34.3 million (2002)
Transportation United Kingdom
total: 16,893 km
standard gauge: 16,536 km 1.435-m gauge (4,928 km electrified)
broad gauge: 357 km 1.600-m gauge (in Northern Ireland) (2002)
total: 371,913 km
paved: 371,913 km (including 3,358 km of expressways)
unpaved: 0 km (1999)
3,200 km
condensate 370 km; gas 21,263 km; liquid petroleum gas 59 km; oil 6,420 km; oil/gas/water 63 km; refined products 4,474 km; water 650 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Dover, Falmouth, Felixstowe, Glasgow, Grangemouth, Hull, Leith, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Peterhead, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Scapa Flow, Southampton, Sullom Voe, Teesport, Tyne
Merchant marine:
total: 295 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 6,752,179 GRT/6,963,112 DWT
ships by type: bulk 14, cargo 43, chemical tanker 19, combination ore/oil 1, container 95, liquefied gas 4, livestock carrier 1, passenger 18, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 50, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 37, short-sea passenger 8, specialized tanker 1
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Bermuda 1, Cyprus 1, Denmark 21, Germany 6, Greece 3, Hong Kong 4, Italy 1, Monaco 4, Netherlands 1, Norway 9, Russia 1, South Africa 2, Sweden 11, Taiwan 2, US 5 (2002 est.)
470 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 334
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 33
914 to 1,523 m: 83
under 914 m: 59 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 151
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 136
2438 to 3047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 112 (2002)
914 to 1,523 m: 22
11 (2002)
Military United Kingdom
Military branches:
Army, Royal Navy (including Royal Marines), Royal Air Force
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 14,877,666 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 12,353,942 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$31.7 billion (2002)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.32% (2002)
Transnational Issues United Kingdom
Disputes - international:
Gibraltar residents vote overwhelmingly in referendum against "total shared sovereignty" arrangement worked out between Spain and UK to change 300-year rule over colony; Mauritius and Seychelles claim Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory) and its former inhabitants, who reside chiefly in Mauritius, but in 2001 were granted UK citizenship and right to repatriation since eviction in 1965; Argentina claims Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands; Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark and Iceland; territorial claim in Antarctica (British Antarctic Territory) overlaps Argentine claim and partially overlaps Chilean claim; disputes with Iceland, Denmark, and Ireland over Faroe Islands continental shelf boundary outside 200 NM
Illicit drugs:
gateway country for Latin American cocaine entering European market; major consumer of synthetic drugs, producer of limited amounts of synthetic drugs and synthetic precursor chemicals; major consumer of Southwest Asian heroin; money-laundering center