United Kingdom

United Kingdom Destinations Travel Guide

 

Flag of United Kingdom

Language: English

Currency: Pound sterling (GBP)

Calling Code: 44

 

Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, the full official form is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a sovereign state off the northwestern coast of continental Europe, consisting of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the northeastern part of the island of Ireland and many of the smaller British Isles. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland; otherwise, Great Britain is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea. The total area of ​​the United Kingdom is 242,500 km², and the population in 2020 was estimated at over 67 million people.

The UK is a unitary parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. King Charles III has ruled since 2022. The capital and largest city is London, a global financial center with over 14 million people. Other major cities are Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and Leeds. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own governments, each with different powers.

The United Kingdom emerged from a series of annexations, unions, and secessions of its member countries over several hundred years. The Kingdom of Great Britain was formed in 1707 as a result of the signing of the Treaty of Union between the Kingdom of England (which already included Wales, annexed in 1542) and the Kingdom of Scotland. In 1800, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland united to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which, after the separation of the Irish Free State from it in 1922, became known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1927.

The neighboring Isles of Man, Guernsey and Jersey are not part of the UK as they are crown holdings and the British government is responsible for defense and international representation. Today, the 14 British Overseas Territories are the last remnants of the British Empire, which at its height in the 1920s covered nearly a quarter of the land mass and a third of the world's population, becoming the largest empire in history. British influence is seen in the language, culture, legal and political systems of many of the country's former colonies.

The UK economy ranks sixth in the world in terms of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) and eighth in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). The country's economy is characterized by a high level of income and a very high human development index (13th in the world). Great Britain became the world's first industrialized country and was the foremost world power in the 19th century and early 20th century. Today, Great Britain remains one of the great powers of the world, with significant economic, cultural, military, scientific, technological and political influence at the international level. It is a recognized nuclear power, ranking fourth in the world in terms of military spending. The UK has been a permanent member of the UN Security Council since its first session in 1946.

The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7 (G7), the Group of Ten, the G20 (G20), the UN, NATO, AUKUS, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Interpol and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The UK was a member state of the European Communities and their successor, the European Union (EU), from accession in 1973 until leaving the EU in 2020 following a referendum held in 2016.

 

Travel Destinations in United Kingdom

Flag of England

England

London

Antonine Wall

Hadrian's Wall

 

Bedfordshire

Someries Castle

 

Berkshire

Donnington Castle

Windsor Castle

 

Buckinghamshire

Boarstall Tower

 

Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral

 

Cheshire

Beeston Castle

Chester Castle

Cholmondeley Castle

Halton Castle

 

Cornwall

Acton Castle

Eden Project

 

Cumbria

Dacre Castle

Sizergh Castle

 

Devon

Dartmoor National Park

 

Dorset

Corfe Castle

 

Durham

Barnard Castle

Brancepeth Castle

Durham Castle

 

East Sussex

Battle Abbey

Bodiam Castle

Byland Abbey

Seven Sisters

 

Hampshire

Portchester Castle

 

Hertfordshire

Aldbury Castle

 

Isle of Wight

Appuldurcombe House

Carisbrooke Castle

 

Kent

Dover

Hever Castle

Leeds Castle

Richborough Roman Fort

Rochester

 

Norfolk

Sandringham House

 

Northumberland

Alnwick Castle

Bamburgh Castle

Lindisfarne Castle

 

North Yorkshire

Bolton Castle

Fountains Abbey

Helmsley Castle

Howard Castle

Middleham Castle

Mount Grace Priory

Pickering Castle

Richmond Castle

Rievaulx Abbey

Skipton Castle

Stump Cross Caverns

Whitby Abbey

 

Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace

 

Shropshire

Acton Burnell Castle

 

Somerset

Bath

Wookey Hole Caves

 

Suffolk

Dunwich Heath

 

Surrey

Hampton Court Palace

 

West Sussex

Amberley Castle

Arundel Castle

 

Wiltshire

Avebury

Stonehenge

 

Flag of Scotland

Scotland

Dirleton Castle

Doune Castle

Edinburgh

Eilean Donan Castle

Glamis Castle

Keiss Castle

Loch Ness Lake

Lochaber Mountains

Scara Brae

Sinclair Girnigoe Castle

Stirling Castle

Urquhart Castle

 

Flag of Wales

Wales

Abergavenny Castle

Caernarfon Castle

Caerphilly Castle

Cardiff Castle

Carew Castle

Conwy Castle

Ewloe Castle

Raglan Castle

 

Flag of North Ireland

North Ireland

Carrickfergus Castle

Dunluce Castle

Enniskillen Castle

Giant's Causeway

Glenariff Forest Park

Marble Arch Caves

Shane's Castle

 

Etymology

The origin of the word "Great" in the name "Great Britain"
Claudius Ptolemy in his Almagest (147-148 AD) calls the larger island "Greater Brittany" (Old Greek μεγάλης Βρεττανίας), and Ireland "Little Brittany". In his later work Geography (A.D. 150) he calls these islands "Alvion", "Ivernia" and "Mona" (Isle of Man). It is assumed that these names were not known to him at the time of writing the Almagest. The name "Albion" apparently fell out of use some time after the conquest of the islands by the Romans, and the island began to be called "Great Britain".

After the Anglo-Saxon period, the name "Britain" began to be referred to only as a historical term. Geoffrey of Monmouth in his semi-legendary work "History of the Kings of Britain" calls Great Britain "Greater Britain" ("Greater Britain"), which is separated from "Little Britannia" ("Little Britain") - an area in continental Europe where Celtic immigrants from the British Isles settled in the 5th-6th century. The name "Great Britain" was first used officially in 1474, in a marriage proposal letter between Cecily, daughter of Edward IV of England, and James, son of James III of Scotland, which said "this noble island called Great Britain". Officially, this word sounded again in 1604, when King James VI proclaimed himself "King of Great Britain, France and Ireland."

Use of the name "UK"
In Russian, "Great Britain" is the most common designation for the United Kingdom. "Great Britain" is also the name of the island on which England, Scotland and Wales are located.

In English, the acronyms GB and GBR are used in documents to represent the United Kingdom in some international organizations such as the Universal Postal Union, sports teams, NATO, the International Organization for Standardization, and in international codes.

On the Internet, the ".uk" domain is used to designate sites belonging to the United Kingdom. The ".gb" domain, which was used earlier, is outdated, new site registrations are not accepted for it.

The name "Team GB" is used by the British Olympic Association to name the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the Olympics. Another example of the use of the name "Britain" instead of "United Kingdom" is the use of the name "British Grand Prix" in motorsport.

 

Geography

The state is located on the British Isles (the island of Great Britain, the northeastern part of the island of Ireland, as well as a large number of smaller islands and archipelagos, including the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland Islands, Anglesey, Arran, White) in the Atlantic Ocean. It is washed by the Northern, Irish, Celtic and Hebrides seas. The southeast coast is located just 35 km from the northern coast of France, which are separated by the English Channel.

The area of ​​Great Britain is 243,809 km², of which land - 240,579 km², inland waters - 3230 km². According to 1993 data, 10% of the land was covered with forest, 46% was used for pasture, and another 25% was used in agriculture.

The coastline is 17,820 km long.

The southern coast is connected to continental Europe through a 50 km long Eurotunnel (of which 38 km are under water). This is the longest underwater tunnel in the world.

Northern Ireland shares a 499 km land border with the Republic of Ireland and is the UK's only land border.

The Greenwich Observatory in London is the place where the prime meridian passes. In general, Great Britain is located between latitudes 49° and 61° north and between longitudes 9° west and 2° east.

England occupies a little more than half of the entire territory of Great Britain, covering 130,395 km².

Most of it consists of lowlands. Uplands are concentrated in the north (Pennines) and northwest (Cumberland Mountains). Among the latter, the highest peak in England is Scafell Pike (978 m).

The longest rivers are the Thames, the Severn and the Humber.

Scotland occupies a little less than a third of the entire territory of Great Britain, covering 78,772 km². It includes about eight hundred islands - mainly in the west and north of the main territory. Among them, it is worth highlighting the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland Islands. The topography of Scotland is largely defined by the Highland Boundary Fault, which cuts across Scotland from the Isle of Arran in the west to Stonehaven in the east. A fault line separates two very different regions: the Scottish Highlands in the northwest and the Lowlands in the southeast. The rugged Highlands contain almost all of Scotland's mountains, including Ben Nevis, which at 1,343m is the highest point in the British Isles.

Lowland (Lowland "lowland"), especially the Lowlands between the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth, also known as the "Central Belt", is much flatter; most of the population lives here, including in the largest cities of Scotland Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Wales occupies only less than one tenth of the entire territory of Great Britain, covering 20,779 km². Wales is mostly mountainous, although South Wales is less mountainous than the rest. The main population and industrial zones are located in South Wales, including the coastal cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. The highest mountains in Wales are located in Snowdonia (including Mount Snowdon with a height of 1085 m). The coastline of Wales has a length of 1200 km.

The largest island is Anglesey in the northwest.

Northern Ireland covers only 13,843 km² and is mostly hilly. Here is Loch Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles (388 km²).

The highest point in Northern Ireland is Slieve Donard in the Morne Mountains with a height of 852 m.

 

Climate

Great Britain has a temperate oceanic climate with a lot of rain throughout the year. Temperatures vary seasonally but rarely fall below -12°C or rise above 35°C. The main winds come from the southwest and often bring cold and wet weather from the Atlantic Ocean, however, the eastern parts of the country are mostly protected from these winds and, since most of the precipitation falls in the western regions, the eastern ones are the driest. Atlantic currents, heated by the Gulf Stream, bring mild winters; it occasionally snows in winter and early spring, although the snow usually does not last long.

 

Administrative division

Regional and local government
Each of the four autonomous parts of the United Kingdom has its own system of administrative and geographical divisions, which often date back to pre-United Kingdom times. Accordingly, "there is no standard level of administrative division linking the whole of Great Britain". Until the 19th century, there were practically no changes in the old divisions, but then a constant evolution of roles and functions began. However, these changes were not universal, and the further transfer of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland means that they are unlikely to be universal in the future.

The organization of local government in England is very complex, with the distribution of functions depending on local orders. The legislative framework for English self-government is set by the UK Parliament and Government, as England does not have its own Parliament. The highest level of division of England is made up of nine government regions or government regions of the European Union. One region, Greater London, has had its own elected assembly and mayor since 2000 after supporting the issue in a referendum in 1998. It was assumed that other regions would also get their own regional assemblies, but the refusal of one in North East England in a referendum in 2004 stopped this idea. Below the regional level comes either a county council and then district councils, or unitary councils, while London has its own system of 32 London boroughs. Council members are elected by majority system.

Scotland is administratively divided into 32 counties with a wide variation in size and population among them. The cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee have the status of separate districts, as does the Highlands, which includes the territory of a third of Scotland, but has a population of just over 200,000 people. Local government rights are exercised by elected deputies, who now number 1,222 and receive part-time salaries. Elections are held under the system of a single non-transferable vote and select three or four deputies, who then choose a chairman who chairs the meetings and speaks on behalf of the entire region.

Wales is administratively made up of 22 unitary entities, including Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, each of which has the status of a separate entity. Elections are held every 4 years according to the majority system. Northern Ireland has been divided into 26 districts since 1973. Their rights are limited to service functions such as garbage collection, pet control, and park maintenance. On March 13, 2008, a decision was made to create 11 new districts and replace the existing system. The next local elections were canceled until 2011 to organize a new system.

British territories outside the United Kingdom
Britain extends its sovereignty over seventeen territories that are not part of the United Kingdom: 14 British Overseas Territories and three Crown Lands.

Fourteen overseas territories: Anguilla (capital of the Valley), Bermuda (capital of Hamilton), British Antarctic Territory (capital of Rothera), British Indian Ocean Territory (capital of Diego Garcia), British Virgin Islands (capital of Road Town), Gibraltar (capital of Gibraltar) ), Cayman Islands (capital Georgetown), Montserrat Island (capital Plymouth), Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (capital Jamestown), Pitcairn Island (capital Adamstown), Turks and Caicos Islands (capital Coburn Town), Falklands islands (the capital is Stanley), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (the capital is Grytviken) and Sovereign Military Bases in Cyprus (the capital is Episkopi). British claims in Antarctica are not universally recognized, the presence of military bases in Cyprus is disputed by the Republic of Cyprus, and the rights to the Falkland Islands by Argentina. Together, the Overseas Territories cover 1,727,527 km² (excluding the British Antarctic Territory, 18,127 km²) and have a population of 260,000. These territories are the legacy of the British Empire and have made their own choice to retain British sovereignty.

The Crown lands are the domains of the Crown, as opposed to overseas territories. This includes the Balleys of the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey in the English Channel and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. All three Crown Lands have an area of ​​766 km² and a population of 235,000. Being self-governing jurisdictions, they, like the Overseas Territories, are not part of the United Kingdom or the European Union, although the government of the United Kingdom is responsible for foreign policy and defense matters, and the British Parliament has the right to legislate on behalf of the territories. The power to make laws concerning the island co-exists with the territories' own legislative assemblies, subject to the consent of the Privy Council of the Crown. The Heads of Government of the Crown Lands are their respective Chief Ministers (Maine since 1986, Guernsey since 2004, Jersey since 2005).

 

Population

The UK census takes place simultaneously in all its parts every ten years.

According to the 2011 census, the total population of the UK was 63,181,775. According to this indicator, the country ranks 3rd in the EU, 5th in the Commonwealth of Nations and 21st in the world. By mid-2011, it is estimated at 62,698,362. In 2008, natural population growth began to influence population growth more than migration for the first time since 1998. From 2001 to 2008, the population grew at an average annual rate of 0.5%, up from 0.3% from 1991 to 2001 and 0.2% in the previous decade. Population figures released in 2008 in mid-2007 suggest that for the first time in UK history there were more people of retirement age than children under 16. According to some estimates, the number of people aged 100 years and over will rise to 626,000 by 2080.

England's population in mid-2008 was estimated at 51.44 million, making it one of the highest population densities in the world, with 383 inhabitants per square kilometer as of mid-2003, with a particular concentration in London and the South East. Mid-2008 estimates suggest a population of 5.17 million for Scotland, 2.99 million for Wales and 1.78 million for Northern Ireland, with much lower populations in these areas. As a percentage, population growth in Northern Ireland was the highest among other regions of the UK in all four years prior to 2008. The largest cities include London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds.

In 2008, the UK's total fertility rate was 1.96 children per woman. While rising birth rates do contribute to population growth, they remain relatively below the 1964 baby boom peak of 2.95 children per woman and below the replacement rate of 2.1, but above the 2001 record low of 1 .63 children per woman. Scotland has the lowest rate of 1.8 children per woman, while Northern Ireland had a rate of 2.11 in 2008.

 

Ethnic groups

Historically, the inhabitants of Great Britain are considered a mixture of various ethnic groups that settled on its territory before the 11th century: Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Recent genetic studies have shown that more than 50 percent of English genes contain Germanic Y chromosomes, although other recent genetic analyzes suggest that "approximately 75% of the traceable ancestors of the modern British population arrived in the British Isles approximately 6200 years ago, at the beginning of the British Neolithic or Stone Age." century”, and also the British have in many respects common ancestors with the Basques.

The United Kingdom has a history of little non-white immigration, Liverpool has the oldest black population in the country dating back to at least the 1730s, and the oldest Chinese community dating back to the first arrival of Chinese sailors in the 19th century.

In 1950 there were less than 20,000 non-whites in the UK, almost all of whom were born overseas.

Since 1945 there has been constant immigration from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia as a legacy of the links established by the British Empire. Migration from the new EU members to Central and Eastern Europe since 2004 has led to a rapid growth of communities from these countries, but by 2008 this trend began to reverse as many migrants returned home.

The racial composition varies in different parts of the country. 30.4% of the London population and 37.4% of the Leicester population in 2005 were non-white, while less than 5% of the population of North East England, Wales and South West England were ethnic minorities in the 2001 census.

Languages
The official language of Great Britain is English (de facto) - a West Germanic language that developed from Old English, which had a large number of borrowings from Old Norse, Norman, French and Latin. Thanks in large part to the British Empire, English has spread throughout the world and has become the international language of business and the most popular second language spoken. It was assumed that after leaving the EU, English would lose its status as one of the 24 official languages ​​of the EU.

Scots (Germanic), which developed from Early Northern Middle English, is prominent at the European level, as is its dialect in the northern counties of Ireland, Ulster-Scots.

Four more Celtic languages ​​are used in Great Britain: Welsh, Irish, Scottish (Gaelic) and Cornish.

During the 2001 census, about 21% of the Welsh population said they could speak Welsh, up from 18% in the 1991 census. Another 200,000 people living in England also speak Welsh.

The 2001 census in Northern Ireland showed that 167,487 (10.4%) people "had some knowledge of Irish", nearly all from the Catholic or Nationalist population. Over 92,000 in Scotland (just under 2%) had some knowledge of Scottish Celtic, including 72% of the Outer Hebrides. The number of students being taught Welsh, Scottish Celtic or Irish is also on the rise.

Welsh and Scots Celtic are also spoken by small groups of people in the world outside the UK - for example, Scots Celtic is spoken by a few people in Nova Scotia and Canada (especially on Cape Breton Island), and a few people in the Argentine province of Chubut (Patagonia) speak Welsh.

In the UK as a whole, schoolchildren are required to learn a second language up to a certain point: up to 14 in England, and up to 16 in Scotland. French and German are the two most studied second languages ​​in these two regions. In Wales, children under 16 are either taught in Welsh or taught Welsh as a second language.

 

Social classes

The social structure of Great Britain was historically formed under the influence of the concept of social class, which has its influence on British society at the present time. British society before the Industrial Revolution, like the societies of Britain's European neighbors and most of the societies of world history, was feudal and divided into groups according to a hierarchical principle, based on the hereditary transmission of occupation, social status and political influence. After the start of industrialization, this system began to be constantly revised, and now the formation of personality depends not only on origin, but also on many other factors (including education). While definitions of social class in the UK vary and are often quite subjective, many of them depend on factors such as wealth, occupation and education. Before the Life Peerage Act 1958 came into force, the British Parliament was organized along class lines: the House of Lords consisted only of the hereditary representatives of the upper class, and the House of Commons of all the rest. The British monarch, as a rule, is at the top of the entire class society.

British society has changed significantly since the end of the Second World War, namely in terms of increased opportunities for higher education and property ownership, a shift towards a service-oriented national economy, mass migration, an expansion of the role of women in society and a shift of culture towards individualism. At the same time, statements that a classless society has formed in the UK are quite often perceived with skepticism. Research shows that social status in the UK is influenced by social class. The largest research survey on social stratification in the UK is the so-called UK Class Survey.

Religion
Main religions: Christianity, the most common religion (42,079,000) - 71.6%, Islam (1,591,000) - 2.7%, Hinduism (559,000) - 1%, Sikhism (336,000) - 0.6% , Judaism (267,000) - 0.5%, Buddhism (152,000) - 0.3%, other religions (179,000) - 0.3%, atheists (9,104,000) - 15.5%, refrained from answering (4,289,000) - 7.3%.

On the territory of England there is a church with state status - the Church of England, the secular head of which is the British monarch. The Church of England is one of the local churches belonging to the Anglican Communion, which has its spiritual leader in the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The largest Christian denominations in the UK are Anglicans (more than 25 million), Catholics (5.6 million), Presbyterians (more than 1 million). The fastest growing denomination in the country is represented by the Pentecostals (about 1 million).

According to research, the United Kingdom is a country with a predominantly secular population, with only 38% of people claiming to believe in God (“a God”), although according to the Church of England in 2005, “72% of the population of England indicated their religious affiliation as Christian ".

According to an April 2008 study by the Christian charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the "prevailing view" is that of religion as a "social evil". The same results were obtained as a result of other similar studies.

 

History of United Kingdom:

Before 1707
The settlement by modern people of the territories that later became part of Great Britain began about 30,000 years ago and occurred in waves.

It is believed that by the end of the prehistoric period, the population mainly belonged to the culture of the Island Celts, which included the Britons of the island of Britain and the Gaels of the island of Ireland.

The Roman conquest of Britain began in 43 AD, led to 400 years of Roman rule over southern Britain, followed by an invasion by Germanic Anglo-Saxon settlers, leading to assimilation with the Celts. At the same time, some tribes of the Celtic Britons settled in what is now Wales. The territories inhabited by Anglo-Saxons and Celts united to form the Kingdom of England in the 10th century, while the Gaels of northwestern Britain (presumably migrating from northwestern Ireland in the 5th century) united with the Picts to form the Kingdom of Scotland in the 9th century.

In 1066, the Normans invaded England, and after its conquest, they captured most of Wales and Ireland and received an invitation to settle in Scotland. They brought to all these countries northern French feudalism and Norman-French culture. The Norman elite strongly influenced all local cultures, but eventually assimilated with them. Subsequent kings of England completed the conquest of Wales and unsuccessfully attempted to annex Scotland. After that, Scotland maintained its independence, despite the almost constant conflicts with England. Inheritance of large territories of France and claims to the French throne incessantly involved the English monarchs in conflicts with France, the most significant of which was the Hundred Years War.

In 1536, the Parliament of England unilaterally formally annexed Wales, and Ireland from 1542 (Crown of Ireland Act 1542) found itself in a personal union with the English crown. In what would become Northern Ireland, the lands of the independent Catholic Gaelic nobility were confiscated and distributed to Protestant settlers from England and Scotland.

In the 16th century, the countries that make up Great Britain underwent Reformation processes, which led to the establishment of Protestant state religions in each of the countries, in particular in England (the Reformation in England) and Scotland (the Reformation in Scotland).

In 1603 the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were united in a personal union when King James VI of Scotland inherited the crowns of England and Ireland and transferred his court from Edinburgh to London. However, each country retained a separate political identity and its own political institutions.

In the middle of the 17th century, all three kingdoms were involved in a series of military conflicts (including civil war), which led to the temporary overthrow of the monarchy in 1649 and the short-lived establishment of the unitary state of the English Republic. Although the monarchy was restored in 1660, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 made it clear that, unlike the rest of Europe, absolute monarchy had no future. The political structure of the state was formed on the basis of a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. During this period, especially in England, the development of sea power (and interest in geographical discovery) led to the annexation and settlement of overseas colonies, mainly in North America.

After the Act of Union of 1707
On May 1, 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain came into existence, created by the political union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in accordance with the Treaty of Union of 1706, which was agreed upon the previous year and ratified by the English and Scottish Parliaments.

In the 18th century, the country played an important role in the development of Western ideas of parliamentarism, and also contributed to literature, art and science. The British-led industrial revolution changed the country and ensured the growth of the British Empire. At this time, Britain, like other great powers, was involved in colonial development, including the slave trade, although after the passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807, the United Kingdom took a leading role in the fight against it. Britain was primarily focused on the colonies in North America. After their loss due to the American War of Independence, imperial ambitions turned to other parts of the planet, in particular to India.

In 1800, the Parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland passed the Act of Union, uniting the two kingdoms and creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which came into existence on January 1, 1801.

 

After the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815), Great Britain became the main maritime and economic power (with London being the largest city in the world from about 1830 to 1930) and remained a superpower until the middle of the 20th century. With no competition at sea, Britain assumed the role of world arbiter, a state of affairs later known as "Pax Britannica". It was also a period of rapid economic, colonial and industrial growth. England was metaphorically called "the workshop of the world"; The British Empire annexed India, significant possessions in Africa and other territories around the world. In addition to the formal control it exercised over its colonies, Britain's dominance of world trade meant de facto economic control over many countries such as China, Argentina and Siam. In the domestic market, however, there was a transition to a policy of free trade and laissez-faire and a significant expansion of trade. The country experienced rapid population growth during the century, accompanied by rapid urbanization, resulting in significant social and economic disruption. By the end of the century, other states began to compete with Britain in industrial dominance.

Britain, along with Russia, France and the United States (since 1917), was one of the main powers waging war against the German Empire and its allies in the First World War (1914-1918). The military forces of Britain exceeded 5 million people, collected from all over the empire and some regions of Europe, and played one of the main roles on the Western Front. The nation had an estimated 2.5 million wounded and ended the war with a huge sovereign debt. After the war, Britain received a League of Nations mandate for the former German and Ottoman colonies, which expanded the British Empire to its largest extent, covering one-fifth of the land, home to a quarter of the world's population. However, the rise of Irish nationalism and disputes within Ireland over the terms of Home Rule led to the virtual partition of the island in 1921, with the independent Irish Free State and Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK.

The Great Depression (1929–1932) came while the United Kingdom was still far from recovering from the effects of the war and caused unrest, including political and social unrest.

Britain, along with France and its colonies, declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, which turned the earlier Polish-German conflict into a global war; was one of the three main allies in World War II against the Axis countries. After the defeats of its European allies, Great Britain continued to fight Germany, in particular in the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic. During the war and after the victory over Germany, the United Kingdom was one of the three powers participating in a series of conferences on the post-war order of the world: the Tehran Conference (1943), the Yalta Conference (February 1945), the Potsdam Conference (summer 1945). The war left the country in dire financial straits and heavily indebted to the United States, which began in 1948 a program of aid to Europe known as the Marshall Plan. Britain paid the last amount of the war debt to America only towards the end of 2006.

The Labor government in the post-war years initiated a radical program of change that influenced British society in the following decades. Domestically, many industries and service companies were nationalized, a state social security system and a publicly funded health care system were created. In response to rising local nationalism, the decline of the British economy, and US government demands for colonial independence, decolonization began with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. Over the next few decades, most of the territories of the Empire gained independence and became sovereign members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

After World War II
After the Second World War, Britain lost control of most of the former colonies, but received a seat as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and after 7 years became the third country of the nuclear club (the first test of the atomic bomb in 1952), having independently developed atomic weapons after being denied 1945, the US government to provide Britain with the results of joint research in the nuclear field in accordance with previous agreements.

 

After the Suez crisis of 1956, which was a painful geopolitical defeat for Britain, caused primarily by a direct ultimatum from the United States, the country finally ceased to play an independent role in international relations as a great power and has since then strictly followed the US foreign policy line.

The international reach of the English language ensured the continued international influence of British literature and culture, and from the 1960s pop culture began to influence overseas.

Due to labor shortages in the 1950s, the British government began to encourage immigration from the Commonwealth countries, thus transforming Britain into a multi-ethnic society. In 1973 the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community. From the late 1960s until the Belfast Agreement in 1998, there was conflict in Northern Ireland between radical factions of the Protestant majority and the Catholic minority, also involving the police and the British armed forces.

Following a period of worldwide economic slowdown and underperformance in the 1970s, the Conservative government in the 1980s embarked on a radical deregulation policy, particularly in the financial sector and the labor market, privatizing state-owned companies and eliminating subsidies for those that remained. Supported since 1984 by financial revenues from North Sea oil, the UK experienced a period of great economic growth. Towards the end of the 20th century, great changes in government took place with the establishment of a devolved national administration in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, following pre-legal referendums and the introduction of laws in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. Britain's foreign military operations in the first decade of the 21st century, especially the invasion of Iraq and the Afghan campaign, caused great controversy at home. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2013.

The entry of Britain in 1973 into the European Economic Community (since 1993 the European Union) drew a line under the history of the country as a colonial metropolis, and the transfer of Hong Kong under the sovereignty of the PRC in 1997 deprived it of its last significant colonial possession. On June 23, 2016, the country passed a vote on membership in the European Union. 51.9% of those who came to the referendum (37% of all voters) voted for the exit, and the population of Scotland, Northern Ireland and London voted against leaving the EU. On June 24, 2016, Prime Minister David Cameron, who advocated maintaining EU membership, announced his early resignation. On July 13, 2016, Theresa May was appointed Prime Minister, having led the Conservative Party two days earlier. On March 29, 2017, President of the European Council Donald Tusk received a letter from Theresa May announcing the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

The state was expected to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 at 23:00 GMT. However, as a result of fierce disagreement between the positions of all parties in Parliament, as well as in the UK Government, the release date was postponed by an amendment to the law to April 12 or May 22, 2019. On March 29, the House of Commons for the third time rejected the draft agreement on leaving the European Union, submitted for discussion by the government of Theresa May, thus plunging the country into a protracted political crisis.

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020 at 23:00 London time.

 

On September 8th 2022 Queen Elizabeth II has died. Her son Charles became king Charles III.

 

Chronology

54 BC Julius Caesar lands in Britain with his legions, but withdraws later.
43AD Roman army during reign of Emperor Claudius invade the island and establish their presence.
61 Queen Boadicea leads rebellion against the Romans. She captures and burns down Saint Albans and Colchester. Eventually she was defeated by the Roman army.
70 Romans conquer Wales and the North.
74- 84 Agricola wages war against tribes of Scotland. Eventually he retreats with his legions.
120 The Wall of Hadrian is constricted on the border with Scotland during reign of Emperor Hadrian.
140- 143 Romans invade Southern Scotland, acquire new lands and construct Antonine Wall to mark new frontier between Roman Empire and barbaric tribes.

254 Saint Alban in beheaded and becomes the first Christian martyr of Britain.
306 Roman soldiers in York make Constantine a new Roman Emperor.
350- 69 Picts and Scots attack the Roman outposts on the frontier.
410 Roman begin their withdrawal from the island.
440s- Angle, Saxon, Jute tribes invade the island as Roman influence decreases.
470- 495 Saxons and Angles settle Essex, Sussex and East Anglia.
563 Saint Columba lands on Iona.
597 Saint Augustine is sent by Rome to convert pagan tribes to Christianity.
617- 85 Northumbrian kingdom gains influence in the region.
635 Saint Aidan establishes a monastery on Lindisfarne.
867 Northumbria is captured by the invading groups of the Vikings
878 King Alfred defeats the Vikings, but then allows them to settle in Eastern England.
1016 Danish king Canute becomes king of England.
1034 Duncan I becomes the king of Scotland.
1066 William the Conqueror crosses the English Channel from France and invades Britain. He defeats Anglo- Saxon king Harold at the battle of Hasting and becomes the first Norman king of England and is crowned in Westminster.
1071 Hereward the Wake leads Anglo- Saxon resistance against the Normans. He is defeated at Ely.
1086 The Domesday Book is compiled for tax purposes.
1154 Henry II, the first Plantagenet king, destroys castles and collects money from the aristocracy as an exempt from military royal service.
1215 King John is forced by his barons to sign Magna Carta.
1256 First British Parliament that includes commoners.
1282- 83 Edward I conquers Wales.
1296 Edward I invades Scotland and fights Scottish resistance that includes such famous heroes as William Wallace (aka"The Braveheart")
1314 Battle of Bannockburn. Scottish army under Richard the Bruce defeats English armies.
1348 Black Death kills large European population.
1381 Peasants' revolt against imposition of poll taxes on everyone in the country over 14.

1387 Chaucer starts writing The Canterbury Tales.
1415 Battle of Agincourt, English are victorious.
1453 Hundred Years' War against France is over.
1485 Battle of Bosworth ends Wars of the Roses.
1497 John Cabot explores North America.
John Colet denounces the corruption of the church clergy. He is supported by Sir Thomas More and Erasmus.
1513 Battle of Flodden. English defeat the Scottish army.
1533- 34 Marriage troubles of Henry VIII forces the king to separate from Catholic Church and form Church of England.
1535 Act of Union with Wales.
1536- 40 Monasteries in England are abandoned by royal edict. Remaining monks are expelled by force.
1542- 67 Queen Mary, Queen of Scots rules Scotland.
1549 First Book of Common Prayer is published.
1553 Edward VI dies, throne passes to the Catholic Mary I.
1558- 1603 Reign of Elizabeth I, Virgin Queen and daughter of Henry VIII.
1559 Queen Mary lays claim to English throne.
1570 Sir Francis Drake takes his first voyage to the West Indies, the Carribean.
1584 Sir Walter Raleigh attempts to colonize Virginia in the New World.
1587 Mary, Queen of Scots, is executed by the orders of Elizabeth I.
1588 Spanish Invincible Armada is defeated.
1591 Shakespeare's first play is performed.
1600 East Indian Company is found.
1603 Union of England and Scotland. James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England.
1605 "Gunpowder Plot" against the Parliament is foiled.
1611 King James Version of the Bible is published.
1614 "Addled Parliament" refuses to vote money for James I.
1620 Mayflower trip of Pilgrim Fathers to the New World.
1638 Scots sign National Covenant against Catholic leanings of king Charles I.
1642 English Civil War between Royalists and supporters of Parliament.
1649 King Charles I is executed outside Banqueting House and Commonwealth.
1653- 58 Oliver Cromwell is proclaimed as Lord Protector.
1660 King Charles II, son of executed Charles I, becomes a new king upon Restoration of the Monarchy.
1665- 66 Great Plague.

1666 Great Fire of London.
1688 The Glorious Revolution. Catholic James II is deposed by the British Parliament.
1690 Battle of the Boyne. William's joint English and Dutch army defeat James II who leads Irish and French armies.
1692 Glencoe Massacre of Jacobites (Stuart supporters) by troops of William III.
1707 Act of Union with Scotland.
1721 Robert Walpole becomes first Prime Minister of Great Britain.
1776 American Declaration of Independence
1788 First convicts are sent to Australia.
1805 Battle of Trafalgar. Admiral Lord Nelson defeat French fleet.
1815 Battle of Waterloo. Duke Wellington blows a final defeat to Napoleon Bonaparte.
1825 Railway between Stockton and Darlington opens.
1839 Catholic Emancipation Act is passed.
1837- 1901 Reign of Queen Victoria.
1854- 56 British join Allies in a war against Russia during Crimean War.
1863 London Underground Subway system is open.
1899- 1902 Boer War. Britain defeats Dutch settlers in South Africa. First massive concentration camps were constructed by the British forces.
1908 Old age pensions are introduced by Liberal Government of British Prime Minister Henry Asquith (1852- 1928).
1914- 18 World War I.
1918 All women over 30 get a right to vote.
1924 First Labour government.
1928 Men and women over 21 can vote.
1936 Abdication of Edward VIII. He chooses to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson instead of taking up a throne.
1939 UK joins World War I after Hitler invades Poland.
1940 German air force Luftwaffe attempts to bomb the country into submission and future invasion. It failed.
1944 Allied invasion of mainland France from England.
1945 World War II ends. Partition of Berlin and most of Europe between the Allies and the Soviet side.
1947 India and Pakistan gain their independence.
1948 National Health Service is introduced.
1973 Great Britain joins European Community.
1999 Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are formed.
2005 Terrorist bomb attacks in London kill 52 people, hundreds are injured.

2022 Elizabeth II has died

 

State structure

Great Britain is a quasi-unitary state with a parliamentary monarchy. King Charles III is the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, as well as the reigning monarch of fourteen other independent states of the Commonwealth. It has been erroneously believed that the British monarch has a symbolic rather than a political role, having, in the words of Walter Budget, in relation to the government "the right to be advised, the right to induce and the right to warn"; however, the monarch - as head of state, represented by the institution of the Crown - heads all three branches of government, has the right to dissolve parliament, appoint ministers, and also, as supreme commander, has the right to declare war on other countries. Great Britain does not have a constitution as a single document. The British Constitution consists mainly of a collection of various written sources, including statutes, judicial precedents and international treaties, as well as constitutional custom. The Parliament is the supreme legislative body of Great Britain, while the devolved Parliament of Scotland, as well as the assemblies of Northern Ireland and Wales, make laws exclusively within the framework of delegated powers and within the boundaries of their jurisdictions. The UK Parliament cannot abolish the legislatures of autonomies, the permanent constitutional status of which is guaranteed by the laws of the Parliament itself, as well as by international treaties (see, for example, the Scotland Act 1998 and 2016; Belfast Agreement 1998). Since there is no technical difference between ordinary statutes and "constitutional law", the UK Parliament can carry out "constitutional reform" simply by passing another law, and thus has the ability to change or repeal almost any written or unwritten element of the constitution. However, in accordance with the constitutional doctrine of "parliamentary sovereignty", no parliament will be able to pass a law that the next convocation could not change.

Government
The United Kingdom has a parliamentary government based on the Westminster system, which is also used in a number of former colonies of the British Empire. The Parliament of Great Britain, sitting in the Palace of Westminster, has two chambers: the elected House of Commons and the appointed House of Lords. Any document passed requires Royal Assent to become law.

For the post of prime minister, the head of the government of Great Britain, according to custom, a member of parliament is appointed by the monarch, who can get the support of a majority in the House of Commons and thus form a government, since the beginning of the 20th century he has always been a member of the House of Commons, the leader of the majority political party in the house. The ministers who make up Her Majesty's Government are also appointed by the monarch, but the prime minister himself convenes the Cabinet and, as is customary, the monarch respects the choice of the prime minister.

The UK cabinet is usually chosen from members of the prime minister's party in both houses of parliament, but mostly from the House of Commons, to which it is responsible. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and Cabinet, who all take an oath of office to the Privy Council of Great Britain. For the purposes of elections to the House of Commons, Great Britain is divided into 650 constituencies where each individual Member of Parliament is chosen by ordinary majority. General elections are called by the monarch when advised to do so by the prime minister. The Acts of Parliament of 1911 and 1949 require that new elections be called no later than five years after the previous one.

The four main parties in the UK are the Conservative Party, the Labor Party, the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats. During the last general election (2017), these four parties won 627 out of a possible 650 seats in the House of Commons. Most of the rest of the seats were won by smaller parties that contested only in one part of the UK: the Party of Wales (Wales only) and the Democratic Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labor Party, the Ulster Unionist Party and Sinn Féin (all in North America only). Ireland, although Sinn Féin also contests elections in the Republic of Ireland). In line with party policy, no Sinn Féin MP has ever been present in the House of Commons to represent their constituency, as MPs are required to take oath to the monarch, which is against party policy. The current seven Sinn Féin members have used their offices and other facilities in Westminster since 2002. For elections to the European Parliament, Britain has 72 MEPs, elected from 12 constituencies with multiple winners each.

 

Political parties
Left
The Green Party of England and Wales is a left-wing environmentalist party.
Scottish Green Party
Respect - left-wing socialist anti-war coalition, then party
The Socialist Workers' Party is a Trotskyist organization
centre-left
The Labor Party is a social democratic party that proclaimed the ideology of the "Third Way"
The Scottish National Party is a center-left political party in Scotland that advocates for the country's withdrawal from the United Kingdom.

centrists
Liberal Democrats - Social Liberal Party
centre-right
The Conservative Party is a conservative, Eurosceptic party

Rights
The United Kingdom Independence Party is a Eurosceptic party.
British National Party - neo-fascist party
Unions
The largest trade union center is the British Trades Union Congress, which unites more than 6 million employees.

 

Authorities in autonomies

Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland have had their own executive bodies since the 1990s, headed by a First Minister, and a devolutionary unicameral legislature. England, the largest part of Great Britain, has no executive or legislative power and is governed directly by the British Government and Parliament in all matters. This situation has created the so-called "West Lothian problem", in which MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can vote, and sometimes have a decisive role, on matters relating to England, which are decided by delegated legislators themselves in their regions. Nevertheless, already in 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron achieved the adoption of a new parliamentary procedure (EVEL - English Votes for English Laws), neutralizing this legislative imbalance in favor of England. Interbudgetary relations of various territorial-administrative parts of Great Britain are built on the basis of the so-called. The Barnett formula, used by the Treasury to allocate public spending since the early 1970s.

Scotland
The Scottish Government and Parliament have broad powers in all matters not within the exclusive competence of the British Parliament, including education, health care, Scottish law, transport, local taxation, the judiciary, law enforcement and local government. After winning the 2007 election, the pro-independence Scottish National Party formed the first Scottish government and has held power in all subsequent administrations to this day. The consistent policy of autonomization, as well as the inability of London to maintain a course towards federalism in the country, created the prerequisites for holding the first, unsuccessful independence referendum in 2014, as well as demanding a second referendum from the UK government on the results of the United Kingdom leaving the EU. The Unionist parties have responded by setting up several Scottish Devolution Commissions which, in 2009 and 2015 respectively, made recommendations for the delegation of additional power, including control of half of the taxes collected in Scotland, powers of public borrowing, and the like.

Wales
The Welsh Government and the Welsh National Assembly have less power than the Scottish authorities. Initially, after the adoption of the Governance for Wales Act in 2006, the Assembly could make local laws only after obtaining the approval of Westminster for each specific law, however, since May 2011, the Assembly can legislate through the adoption of Acts of Assembly already without the need for additional permissions. The current government was formed after the 2018 election by a Labor administration led by Mark Drakeford and is also pursuing a pro-independence course.

Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland Cabinet and Assembly have special powers as a result of the 1998 Belfast Agreement. In accordance with the treaty, the territory has the constitutional right to secession based on the results of a popular referendum. The Cabinet of Ministers is formed on the basis of the consociational principle of government, in which the leading parties are equally represented, and the first minister and his deputy have equal powers. The elected members of the Assembly do not take the oath to the British monarch, but to the letter of the law, and only one of the ruling parties of the territory (DUP) is represented in the British Parliament, while representatives of the Sinn Féin party use the policy of abstinenceism, refusing to swear allegiance to the monarch after being elected to Parliament.

 

Legal system

The United Kingdom does not have a unified legal system, since, in accordance with clause 19 of the 1706 unification agreement, Scotland retained its own legal system. Today the UK has three different legal systems: English law, Northern Irish law and Scottish law. Recent constitutional changes led to the creation of the Supreme Court in October 2009 to replace the House of Lords Appeals Committee. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which includes all members of the Supreme Court, is the supreme appellate body for several independent countries of the Commonwealth, the British Overseas Territories and the Crown Lands.

In the UK there is no single written constitution, it is replaced by a set of acts of a different nature, as well as common law and some constitutional customs. The most important acts forming the British constitution are the Magna Carta (1215), the Habeas Corpus Act, the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Succession to the Throne (1701).

Most of the legal rules governing English companies (company law) are reflected in the Companies Act 2006 (Companies Act), one of the largest laws in the history of English law: it consists of 1300 articles and 16 annexes, occupying about 700 pages.

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English law applicable in England and Wales and Northern Irish law are based on common law. The peculiarity of common law is that it includes judicial precedents - decisions made by the court in specific cases, which become the rule that all courts of the same or lower instance must apply in a similar case. Thus, the law is created by the courts themselves in the process of litigation of various cases through the application of laws (statutes) and their interpretation. The higher courts are not bound by the decisions of the lower courts, but may take them into account. The Courts of England and Wales are headed by the Chief Court of England and Wales, which consists of the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Justice (for civil cases) and the Crown Court (for criminal cases). The Supreme Court is the final authority in both civil and criminal cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and any decision it makes sets an example for every other court in those jurisdictions, and has great influence in other jurisdictions as well. Legal capacity in English law (as opposed to Scottish law) is vested in persons who have reached the age of 18.

Scottish law is a hybrid of common law and continental law. The main courts are the Court of Session for civil matters and the Supreme Criminal Court for criminal matters (its decisions are final). The Supreme Court of Great Britain serves as the final court of appeal for civil cases under Scottish law, but not for criminal ones. Scottish case law is unique in that there are three possible jury verdicts: guilty, not guilty, and not proven. The last two are acquittals without the possibility of a retrial, and the "not proven" verdict is also sometimes jokingly referred to as "not guilty, but don't do it again." Legal capacity in Scottish law is held by persons who have reached the age of 16.

From 1981 to 1995, the number of crimes in England and Wales increased strongly, but then, by 2008, fell from its peak value by 48%. The prison population almost doubled over the same period to over 80,000, meaning that England and Wales have the highest relative prison population in Western Europe at 147 per 100,000. low in the last 32 years, falling 10%. At the same time, the number of prisoners exceeded 80,000, breaking all records.

 

International relationships

General information
Great Britain is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, G7, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Council of Europe, OSCE; its monarch leads the Commonwealth of Nations. From 1973 to 2020, the UK was a member of the European Union, but following a referendum, the country left the EU.

Relations with the USA
The UK has what has been unofficially referred to since World War II as a "special relationship" with the US and a close partnership with France, the "Cordial Deal", and has a common nuclear weapons program with the two countries. Other close allies include a number of EU members, NATO, Commonwealth countries, and Japan. Britain's global presence and influence are also enhanced by trade relations, foreign investment, official development assistance and military power.

The United States cooperates most closely with Britain in the military sphere (under the 1958 Mutual Defense Treaty) and in the field of global espionage under the 1946 UKUS SIGINT agreement. According to a number of senior British officials, in particular the head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Rodrik Braithwaite (1992-1993) and Foreign Minister Robin Cook (1997-2001), Britain has de facto lost its sovereignty and is in a completely subordinate and dependent role in the United States areas such as national defense, security, espionage, and extradition of its citizens. The relevance of the term “special relationship” with the United States was called into question at the beginning of the 21st century, among other things, due to the recognition by a special commission in July 2016 of the unjustified US and British invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Commitment to the "special" nature of relations between the US and the UK at the end of January 2017 was confirmed by US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May, who became the first foreign leader to visit Washington after Trump's inauguration. Trump described the European Union as Germany's "tool to achieve its goals" and called the UK's decision to leave the EU "a great thing."

Relations with the Russian Federation
Great Britain established diplomatic relations with the USSR in 1924. In 1968, the USSR and Britain ratified the Consular Convention.

In the second half of the 2000s, relations became tense due to disagreements over extradition cases and events like the Litvinenko case, which "remains a significant irritant in our bilateral relations."

In October 2015, Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko said that the political dialogue between London and Moscow had practically come to naught. A year later, he said that the diplomatic institution does not have the necessary number of employees, since the British authorities for several months do not issue visas to diplomats who were supposed to replace their colleagues returning to Russia.

Mutual sanctions introduced in 2014 in connection with the annexation of Crimea to Russia and the conflict in eastern Ukraine remain in force.

Speaking to the press after a meeting with EU leaders in Brussels, on October 20, 2016, the new British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the country would continue to actively cooperate with the EU and advocated increased pressure on Russia if the Syrian army continued to attack Aleppo with the assistance of Russian aviation.

Entry restrictions
On May 1, 2012, the British Foreign Office announced the introduction of a ban on entry into the country for violators of human rights. The Foreign Ministry report says:
The ban on entry into the UK will generally apply to persons for whom there is independent, reliable and credible information about their involvement in human rights violations
- BBC: "Britain closes entry to human rights violators"

The 2011 State of Democracy and Human Rights Report contains a separate article on Russia. It refers, in particular, to the case of Sergei Magnitsky. The report emphasizes that none of those responsible for the arrest and death of Magnitsky in the pre-trial detention center, as well as the officials accused by him of corruption, have ever been punished.

Relations with the European Union
During the 2016 referendum, 51.9% of those who voted for the UK to leave the European Union, respectively, 48.1% of voters supported the continuation of EU membership. In the various constituent parts of the UK, the voting results differed: for example, the inhabitants of Scotland and Northern Ireland were predominantly against leaving, while the representatives of England (not counting the capital) and Wales were in favor. The first reaction of the world community was somewhat surprised - the results of the referendum even shocked some, as many political scientists predicted a different outcome of the vote.

On January 31, 2020 at 23:00 (London time), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, after 47 years of membership, formally withdrew from the European Union, and on December 31, 2020 - from the European Economic Area.

 

British Armed Forces
The UK has one of the most technologically advanced and well-trained armies in the world and as of 2008 had about 20 military bases around the world. According to various sources, Britain has the third or fourth military spending in the world, although it ranks only 27th in terms of the number of troops. General military spending is approximately 2.5% of the country's GDP. The British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy together make up the British Armed Forces, officially known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces. All three types of armies are controlled by the Ministry of Defense and controlled by a special Defense Council headed by the Secretary of State for Defense. The Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces is the British monarch, Charles III.

The UK has the largest air force and navy in the EU and the second largest in NATO. The Department of Defense signed contracts worth £3.2 billion for two new Queen Elizabeth-class supercarriers on 3 July 2008. At the start of 2009, the British Army had 105,750 troops, the Air Force 43,300 and the Navy 38,160. UK Special Forces such as the Special Air Service and the Special Boat Service have dedicated troops for the rapid mobile conduct of military counter-terrorism operations on land, water and in the air, usually in cases where secrecy is needed. There is also a reserve force called upon in case of need, numbering 404,090.

The primary mission of the British Armed Forces is to protect the United Kingdom and its overseas territories, advance the UK's security interests and support international peacekeeping efforts. They are active and regular members of NATO. Foreign garrisons and bases are located on Ascension Island, Belize, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Diego Garcia, Germany, the Falklands, Gibraltar, Kenya and Qatar.

Despite the military capabilities of the UK, in recent times the country's military policy is based on the fact that the "most resource-intensive operations" are carried out as part of a coalition. Apart from the intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000, British military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and most recently in Libya, follow this statement. The last war the UK fought alone was the Falklands War in 1982, which ended in victory.

 

Economy

General review
Great Britain is a highly developed post-industrial state. The UK has a partially regulated market economy. Based on market exchange rates, the UK is the sixth largest economy in the world and the second largest in Europe after Germany. Her Majesty's Treasury, headed by the Chancellor, is responsible for the development and execution of the British Government's public financial and economic policies. The Bank of England is the central bank of Great Britain and is responsible for issuing the national currency pounds sterling. The Banks of Scotland and Northern Ireland also have the right to issue their own notes, but are required to hold sufficient Bank of England notes to cover their entire issue. The pound sterling is the third largest reserve currency in the world (after the US dollar and the euro). Since 1997, the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England has been responsible for setting the interest rate at the level necessary to meet the inflation target set by the Chancellor each year.

The British service industry is the main sector of the country's economy, accounting for approximately 75% of GDP. London, one of the three "control centers" of the world economy (along with New York and Tokyo), is the largest financial center on a par with New York and the largest urban GDP in Europe. Edinburgh is also a major European financial centre.

The contribution of tourism to the country's economy is significant: in 2014, the industry was estimated at £ 121.1 billion, which amounted to 7.1% of British GDP, the country ranked eighth among the world's tourist destinations by number of visitors, and London is visited by the largest number of visitors of all cities of the world.

The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain with an initial focus on the textile industry, followed by heavy industries such as shipbuilding, coal mining and steelmaking. The empire created overseas markets for British products, allowing Britain to dominate international trade in the 19th century. As other countries industrialized, along with the two world wars, Great Britain began to lose competitive advantages and heavy industry began to fade. Today, manufacturing still plays an important role in the economy, but accounted for only one-sixth of GDP in 2003.

The automotive industry is one of the main industries in the UK; it employs over 800,000 with a total turnover of £52 billion and generates £26.6 billion of exports. The UK aviation industry is the second or third largest in the world (depending on the calculation methods) and has a total turnover of £20 billion. The pharmaceutical industry in the UK also plays an important role and has the third largest research spending in the world (after the US and Japan).

The UK is known for its low labor productivity rates compared to other developed countries; in one working hour, a British worker produces about 20% less output than workers in other G7 countries.

The poverty rate is usually defined as 60% of the average household income. In 2007-2008, 13.5 million people in the UK (22% of the population) lived below the poverty line. This is the highest relative figure in the EU apart from four countries. An independent review prepared by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2017 noted that 14 million people live below the poverty line.

In the last quarter of 2008, the British economy entered a recession for the first time since 1991. The unemployment rate rose from 5.2% in May 2008 to 7.6% in May 2009, and by January 2011, unemployment among young people aged 18 to 24 had risen from 11.9% to 20.3%, the highest indicator for the history of calculations of this indicator since 1992. The UK's total government debt rose from 44.5% of GDP in December 2007 to 76.1% of GDP in December 2010; in 2016, the public debt was estimated at £ 1.6 trillion, amounting to a record for a hundred years in peacetime in 2015, 89.20% of GDP. GDP growth in 2015 was 2.2% against 2.9% in 2014.

A well-developed banking sector and comparatively liberal regulation make the country, above all the City of London, a global center for laundering criminal proceeds from around the world, according to a number of studies and publications from the mid-2010s, as well as tax avoidance of wealthy individuals, including Russian citizens, permanent residents in Britain, which the British government provides preferential tax treatment. Publications about the Panama Papers, made public in April 2016, singled out the UK as a country "at the heart of a tax-avoidance network for the super-rich". After the referendum on leaving the EU, many of the world's leading banks, as well as some Russian banks, decided to transfer their headquarters from London to other EU countries.

 

Transport

The road network comprises 3,497 kilometers of main roads, 3,497 kilometers of motorways and 344,000 kilometers of secondary roads. The largest highway in the country is called A1. In 2009 there were 34 million registered cars in the UK. The rail network has 16,116 km on the British Isle and 303 km in Northern Ireland, carrying 18,000 passengers and 1,000 freight wagons daily.

For the year from October 2009 to September 2010, British airports served a total of 211.4 million passengers. During this period, the largest airports were London Heathrow (65.6 million passengers), Gatwick (31.5 million passengers) and Stansted (18.9 million passengers). Heathrow, located 24 kilometers west of the capital, serves the largest number of international passengers in the world and is a hub for the country's main carrier - British Airways, as well as for BMI and Virgin Atlantic.

Energy
In 2006, the UK was the world's ninth energy consumer and fifteenth producer. In 2007, the country's total energy consumption was 9.5 quadrillion BTU, which consisted of oil (38%), natural gas (36%), coal (13%), nuclear (11%) and other renewable sources (2%). In 2009, the United Kingdom produced 1.5 million barrels of oil per day and consumed 1.7 million barrels. Recently, the volume of oil production began to decline, and since 2005 the UK has been an importer of oil. As of 2010, Britain had about 3.1 billion barrels of proven reserves of crude oil, the largest among EU members.

In 2009, the UK was also the 13th largest producer of natural gas in the world and the largest in the EU. As well as with oil, recently production volumes began to decline and since 2004 the country began to import gas. The UK is one of the largest importers of liquefied natural gas in Europe and is forecast to grow rapidly over the next decade.

In the same 2009, the United Kingdom produced 19.7 million tons of coal and consumed 60.2 million tons. In 2005, the total reserves of coal available for mining were 171 million tons, but the vast coastal zone allows for potential reserves of 7 to 16 billion tons thanks to underground coal gasification technology. If calculated from the country's current coal consumption, these reserves of Britain will last for a period of 200 to 400 years.

Several large energy companies are based in the UK, including two of the six largest private energy companies, BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

 

Science and technology

England and Scotland have been the leading centers of the scientific revolution since the 17th century, and Great Britain led the industrial revolution in the 18th century and has been producing renowned scientists and engineers ever since. Among the main scientists of the XVII-XVIII centuries, one can single out Isaac Newton, whose laws of motion are one of the foundations of modern science, in the XIX century it is worth remembering Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution by natural selection is the basis of all modern biological science, and James Clerk Maxwell, who formulated the classical electromagnetic theory, as well as more modern Stephen Hawking, who developed the main theories in cosmology, quantum gravity and the study of black holes. Major discoveries in the 18th century include hydrogen discovered by Henry Cavendish, penicillin discovered by Alexander Fleming in the 20th century, and the structure of DNA discovered by Francis Crick. Major British engineering projects and inventions include the steam locomotive developed by Richard Trevithick and Andrew Vivian in the 18th century, the electric motor by Michael Faraday in the 19th century, the incandescent lamp by Joseph Swan, and the first used telephone patented by Alexander Graham Bell, and the first used telephone invented in the 20th century. John Logie Baird's working TV, Frank Whittle's jet engine, Alan Turing's modern computer, and Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web. Don't forget about the Royal Society of London, one of the oldest scientific societies in the world, founded in 1660.

Modern Britain plays one of the leading roles in the aviation industry, including Rolls-Royce, the market leader in aircraft engines; BAE Systems, Britain's largest military supplier and sixth for the Pentagon; as well as other supplier companies for Airbus projects. Two British companies, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, are among the five largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, and in general, more drugs are discovered and developed by British companies than in any other country except the United States. Britain also remains one of the leaders in the automotive industry, in particular engines, with about 2,600 component manufacturers. Research is also one of the main activities of British universities, many of which create technoparks to simplify production and work with companies. Between 2004 and 2008, 7% of the world's scientific research was created in the UK, third in the world after the US and China. British scientific journals include Nature, British Medical Journal and The Lancet.

 

Culture

The culture of the United Kingdom is rich and varied. It was influenced by many factors: the island character of the state, the history of the country as one of the leaders of Western democracy and a prominent military-political player, as well as the fact that the country was formed as a result of the union of four separate states, each of which retained its own traditions and habits. and symbols. Through the British Empire, the influence of British culture can in turn be seen in the language, culture and legal system of many of the countries of the former colonies, including Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and Singapore.

Literature
The term British Literature refers to both Great Britain itself and the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and the literature of England, Wales and Scotland before their unification. The bulk of British literature is written in English. Approximately 260,000 books were printed in the UK in 2005, and in 2006 the country was the world's leader in the number of published titles.

The English playwright and poet William Shakespeare is considered one of the greatest in history in his field, but his contemporaries Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson are also well known. Later playwrights such as Alan Ayckbourn, Harold Pinter, Michael Frain and Tom Stoppard combined elements of surrealism, realism and other cultural movements.

Notable English authors of the Middle Ages include Geoffrey Chaucer (14th century), Thomas Malory (15th century), Thomas More (16th century) and John Milton (17th century). In the 18th century, Daniel Defoe (author of Robinson Crusoe) and Samuel Richardson pioneered the modern novel. Further developments followed in the 19th century in Jane Austen, the gothic writer Mary Shelley, the children's writer Lewis Carroll, the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, the naturalist Thomas Hardy, the realist George Eliot, and the poets William Blake and William Wordsworth. English writers of the 20th century include: science fiction writer HG Wells; children's writers Rudyard Kipling, Alan Milne (creator of Winnie the Pooh) and Enid Blyton; the controversial David Lawrence, the modernist Virginia Woolf; satirist Evelyn Waugh; prophetic novelist George Orwell; the popular Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene; detective writer Agatha Christie; Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond); poets Thomas Eliot, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes; fantasy writers John Tolkien, Clive Lewis and JK Rowling.

Scotland's contributions include detective writer Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes), romantic literature by Walter Scott, children's writer James Barry, adventure stories by Robert Louis Stevenson and the celebrated poet Robert Burns. Contemporary Scottish writers include Ian Rankin and Ian Banks.

The oldest poem in Great Britain is considered to be Y Gododdin, written around the end of the 6th century in Yr Hen Ogledd (Ancient North). It was written in Cumbrian or Old Welsh and has the first mention of King Arthur.

Starting around the 17th century, the connection between Wales and the Ancient North was lost, and the center of Welsh culture moved to modern Wales, where the Arthurian legend was developed by Geoffrey of Monmouth.

The most famous Welsh medieval poet is David ap Gwilym (1320-1370), who wrote about nature, religion and love. He is also called one of the greatest poets of Europe at that time.

Until the end of the 19th century, Welsh literature was predominantly in the Welsh language, and most of the prose was of a religious nature. Swansea native Dylan Thomas became world famous in the mid-twentieth century. The influential priest and nationalist Ronald Thomas was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996.

Contributors from other countries, mainly from the Commonwealth countries, Ireland and the US, have lived and worked in the UK. The most notable include Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Bernard Shaw, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Eliot, Ezra Pound, as well as contemporary foreign-born British writers Kazuo Ishiguro and Salman Rushdie.

 

Music

A variety of musical styles are popular in the UK, ranging from the local folk music of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to heavy metal and trip hop. Among the classical composers of Great Britain and its predecessors are such persons as William Byrd, Henry Purcell, Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, Arthur Sullivan (best known for his work with librettist William Gilbert), Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, a pioneer of modern British opera. Peter Maxwell Davies is one of the most distinguished living composers and is the current Master of the Royal Music. The UK is also home to the world-renowned BBC Symphony Orchestra. Famous British conductors include such names as Simon Rattle, John Barbirolli and Malcolm Sargent. Notable film composers include John Barry, Clint Mansell, Mike Oldfield, John Powell, Craig Armstrong, David Arnold, John Murphy and Harry Gregson-Williams. Georg Friedrich Handel, although born in Germany, was a naturalized British citizen, and some of his works, including the Messiah, are written in English.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has achieved significant worldwide success and is a composer of musical scores, and his work has dominated London's West End for many years and has been featured frequently on Broadway in New York.

With over a billion sales, The Beatles are the best-selling songs in the history of music and have had a huge impact on the development of popular music. Other well-known representatives of British popular music of the last 50 years include Queen, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, The Who, Cliff Richard, Bee Gees, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones, all of whom have overcome the mark 200 million copies sold.

According to a study by Guinness World Records, 8 of the 10 bands and singers with the most UK chart wins come from the UK: Status Quo, Queen, The Rolling Stones, UB40, Depeche Mode, Bee Gees, Pet Shop Boys and Manic Street Preacher.

art
The history of British art is an integral part of the history of European art. Notable British artists include: the Romanticists William Blake, John Constable, Samuel Palmer and William Turner; portrait painters Joshua Reynolds and Lucian Freud; landscape painter Thomas Gainsborough; arts and crafts pioneer William Morris; figurative Francis Bacon; pop artists Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton and David Hockney; duet Gilbert and George; abstractionist Howard Hodgkin; sculptors Anthony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Henry Moore. British art is characterized by a wide range of styles and genres. In the second half of the 19th century, there simultaneously existed such radical currents as Victorian fairy-tale painting (John Anster Fitzgerald and John Simmons) and naturalism (George Clausen and William Stott). In the late 1980s and 1990s, the Saatchi Gallery in London helped bring attention to a group of multi-genre artists who would become known as the Young British Artists: Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, Rachel Whiteread, Tracey Emin, Mark Wallinger, Sam Taylor -Wood and the Chapman Brothers.

The Royal Academy of Arts in London is the main organization for the development of the arts in the UK. Among the largest galleries are London's National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, the most visited modern art museum with approximately 4.7 million visitors a year.

Cinema
Great Britain has had a great influence on the history of cinema. British directors Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean are considered among the most popular directors in history, while other famous directors include Charlie Chaplin, Michael Powell, Carol Reed and Ridley Scott. Many British actors have achieved worldwide fame and recognition including Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Vivien Leigh, David Niven, Laurence Olivier, Peter Sellers, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins, Hugh Grant. Some of the world's most commercially successful films have also been made in the UK, including the world's most profitable film series (Harry Potter and James Bond). Ealing Studios claims to be the oldest working film studio in the world.

Despite a long and successful history, the British industry is often characterized by controversy over its identity and its American and European influences. Many British films are co-produced with American producers, they often feature American actors as well as British ones, and British actors are often filmed in Hollywood. Many successful Hollywood films are based on British people, literature or events, such as Titanic, The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean.

 

In 2009, British films grossed $2 billion worldwide, with a 7% market share globally and 17% domestically. In total, UK box office grossed around £944 million in 2009 with 173 million cinema admissions.

The British Film Institute has compiled a ranking of the 100 best, in their opinion, British films. The annual BAFTA awards are the British equivalent of the Oscars.

Sport
Many popular sports, including football, rugby league, rugby-15, rowing, boxing, badminton, cricket, tennis, darts and golf, appeared and were developed in Great Britain and the countries that preceded it. In most competitions, individual teams play for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including the Commonwealth Games. However, there are also cases when a single team plays for Great Britain, including the Olympic Games, where it is represented by a single team. London hosted the Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948, and in 2012 became the first city to host the Olympic Games three times.

Each part of the country has its own football association, national team and championship system, although some clubs, for various historical and logistical reasons, play in different associations to which they should belong on a territorial basis (for example, Swansea City). England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland compete on the international stage as separate teams, which kept the UK out of Olympic football until the 2012 London Olympics.

In connection with the victory of the application for the Games in 2012, there were proposals to revive a single team to participate in them, but the football associations of Scotland, Wales and Ireland refused to participate in this project, fearing that this would undermine their independent status. The England team is the most successful team, having won the World Cup at home in 1966, although historically there has been a close rivalry between England and Scotland.

Cricket was invented in England and is very popular throughout the country and former colonies. Wales does not have its own national team and plays jointly with England, as well as the representatives of Scotland and Ireland, whose cricket teams have only recently begun to develop. Rugby league is popular in parts of the UK. It originated in Huddersfield and is mainly played in Northern England. The British Lions have previously competed in the World Cup and Test matches, but since 2008 England, Scotland and Ireland have competed as separate countries. In Rugby 15, the teams of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are very strong in their own right. The Six Nations Cup, played between the above teams, as well as Italy and France, is considered the unofficial European Championship.

The game of tennis appeared in the city of Birmingham sometime between 1859 and 1865. The Wimbledon Tournament is an international tournament held at Wimbledon in south London every summer and is considered one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world. Snooker is very popular in the UK and the annual World Championship is held in Sheffield. Team sports such as Gaelic football and Hurling are also popular in Northern Ireland, with large crowds of spectators. The game of Shinty is popular in the Scottish Highlands.

The UK is also represented in motorsport. Many Formula One teams and drivers are based here, and British drivers have won more titles than any other country. In the UK, the very first Grand Prix of the World Championships was held in 1950 at Silverstone, where the British Grand Prix is ​​now held almost annually. The country also hosts the stages of the World Rally Championship.

For all the time of the Olympic Games, the British team has won the most medals in sailing.

 

Mass media

London dominates the media sector in the UK, with national newspapers, TV channels and radio mostly based there, although Manchester is also an important media centre. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff are important centers for newspapers and broadcasters in Scotland and Wales. In 2009, it was estimated that every person in the UK spent 3.75 hours a day watching television and 2.81 hours listening to the radio. In the same year, BBC public channels accounted for 28.4% of television viewing; three independent channels had a total share of 29.5%, while the remaining 42.1% was occupied by satellite and digital channels. Since the 1970s, newspaper sales have declined sharply, and by 2009, 42% of the population read daily newspapers.

Television and radio broadcasting in the UK is divided into public and commercial. Public broadcasting is represented by the BBC broadcaster, broadcasting on Channel 1 (BBC One) and Channel 2 (BBC Two) and 4 radio stations (BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4).

Commercial broadcasting is represented by ITV broadcasting on Channel 3, Channel 4 broadcasting on Channel 4 (like the BBC, which is a national treasure, but fully funded by advertising) and Channel 5 broadcasting on Channel 5 on a permanent basis. licenses.

 

Embassies:

US:
24 Grosvenor sq, London
Tel. 020- 7499 9000
www.usembassy.co.uk

 

Canadian High Commission:
Canada House, Trafalgar sq, London
Tel. 020- 7258 6600
www.canada.gc.ca

 

Australian High Commission:
Australia House, Strand, London
Tel. 020- 7379 4334
www.australia.org.uk

   

Tourist Information while travelling to United Kingdom

Visit Britain

www.visitbritain.com

 

VisitBritain United States

Suite 701, 551 Fifth Ave

New York, NY 10176

Tel. 800-462 2748

www.travelbritain.org

 

VisitBritain Canada

5915 Airport Rd, Suite 120

Mississauga, Ontario, LU4 1T1

Tel. 888-847 4885

www.visitbritain.com/ca

 

VisitBritain Ireland

18-19 College Green, Dublin

Tel. 01- 670 8000

www.visitbritain.com/ie

 

VisitBritain New Zealand

17th Floor, 151 Queen St.

Auckland 1

Tel. 09- 303 1446

www.visitbritain.com/nz

 

VisitBritain Australia

Level 2, 15 Blue Street

North Sydney, NSW 2060

Tel. 029- 021 4400

www.visitbritain.com/au

Emergency:

Police, Ambulance, Fire, Coastguard: 999

 

Facilities for the Disabled

The Disability Helpline

Tel. 01302- 310 123

 

Holiday Care Service

Tel. 0845- 124 9971

 

Mobility International

North America

Tel. 541- 343 1284

 

RADAR

Tel. 020- 7250 3200