Facts and Figures about the UK
The United Kingdom comprises the whole of the island of Great Britain which contains England, Wales, and Scotland as well as the northern portion of the island of Ireland. The name Britain is sometimes used to refer to the United Kingdom as a whole. The capital is London, which is among the world’s leading commercial, financial, and cultural centres. Other major cities include Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester in England, Belfast and Londonderry in Northern Ireland, Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, and Swansea and Cardiff in Wales.
As of 2020, the United Kingdom has a population over 67.3 million people, with the population projection to be around 70.3 million by year 2030.
The United Kingdom comprises four geographic and historical parts—England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Together England, Wales, and Scotland constitute Great Britain, the larger of the two principal islands, while Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland constitute the second largest island, Ireland. The total land area in Square per distance is 93,630 (SQ MI) and 242,500 (SQ KM).
Apart from the land border with the Irish republic, the United Kingdom is surrounded by sea. To the south of England and between the United Kingdom and France is the English Channel. The North Sea lies to the east. To the west of Wales and northern England and to the southeast of Northern Ireland, the Irish Sea separates Great Britain from Ireland, while southwestern England, the northwestern coast of Northern Ireland, and western Scotland face the Atlantic Ocean. At its widest the United Kingdom is 300 miles (500 km) across. From the northern tip of Scotland to the southern coast of England, it is about 600 miles (1,000 km). No part is more than 75 miles (120 km) from the sea. The capital, London, is situated on the tidal River Thames in southeastern England.
Government and Political System
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. The country’s head of state is the reigning king or queen, and the head of government is the prime minister, who is the leader of the majority political party in the House of Commons. The current head of state is Queen Elizabeth II while the head of Government is currently Mr. Boris Johnson (PM).
The local currency is the Pound Sterling (£).
The official language is English although people also speak both English and Scots Gaelic in Scotland, and both English and Welsh in Wales.
While the UK is predominantly a Christian country, all religions are represented and respected in our multicultural society. Churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues are in most major cities. Other religions practiced in the UK includes Islam and Hindu religion.
Economy of the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has a fiercely independent, developed, and international trading economy that was at the forefront of the 19th-century Industrial Revolution.
During the 1980s and ’90s, income disparity also increased. Unemployment and inflation rates were gradually reduced but remained high until the late 1990s. The country’s role as a major world financial centre remained a source of economic strength. Moreover, its exploitation of offshore natural gas since 1967 and oil since 1975 in the North Sea has reduced dependence on coal and imported oil and provided a further economic boost.
Economic growth rates in the 1990s compared favourably with those of other top industrial countries. Manufacturing’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) has declined to about one-fifth of the total, with services providing the source of greatest growth. The United Kingdom’s chief trading ties shifted from its former empire to other members of the EU, which came to account for more than half its trade in tangible goods. The United States remained a major investment and trading partner, and Japan also became a significant investor in local production. American and Japanese companies have often chosen the United Kingdom as their European base. In addition, other fast-developing East Asian countries with export-oriented economies included the United Kingdom’s open market among their important outlets.
Resources and power
The United Kingdom has relatively limited supplies of economically valuable mineral resources. The once-important extraction of iron ore has dwindled to almost nothing. Other important metals that are mined include tin, which supplies about half the domestic demand, and zinc. There are adequate supplies of non-metallic minerals, including sand and gravel, limestone, dolomite, chalk, slate, barite, talc, clay and clay shale, kaolin (China clay), ball clay, fuller’s earth, celestine, and gypsum. Sand, gravel, limestone, and other crushed rocks are quarried for use in construction.
The United Kingdom has relatively large energy resources including oil, natural gas, and coal. Coal, the fuel once vital to the British economy, has continued to decrease in importance. Compared with its peak year of 1913, when more than one million workers produced more than 300 million tons, current output has fallen by more than four-fifths, with an even greater reduction in the labour force. Power stations are the major customers for coal, but, with growth in the use of other fuels and the increasing closing of pits that have become uneconomical to operate, the industry remains under considerable pressure.
The discovery of oil in the North Sea and the apportionment of its area to surrounding countries led to the rapid development of oil exploitation, and the United Kingdom became virtually self-sufficient in oil and even an exporter. With an average output of nearly three million barrels per day at the beginning of the 21st century, the country was one of the world’s largest producers. The balance of payments has benefited considerably from oil revenues, and a substantial proportion has been invested abroad to offset diminishing oil income in the future. Proven reserves were estimated at around 700 million tons in the late 1990s.
Self-sufficiency in oil and natural gas and the decline of coal mining has transformed Britain’s energy sector. Nuclear fuel has slightly expanded its contribution to electricity generation, and hydroelectric power contributes a small proportion (mainly in Scotland), but conventional steam power stations provide most of the country’s electricity.
The United Kingdom’s cultural traditions are reflective of the country’s heterogeneity and its central importance in world affairs over the past several centuries. Each constituent part of the United Kingdom—England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—maintains its own unique customs, traditions, cuisine, and festivals. Moreover, as Britain’s empire spanned the globe, it became a focal point of immigration, especially after the independence of its colonies, from its colonial possessions. As a result, immigrants from all corners of the world have entered the United Kingdom and settled throughout the country, leaving indelible imprints on British culture. Thus, at the beginning of the 21st century, age-old English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh customs stood alongside the rich traditions of Afro-Caribbean, Asian, and Muslim immigrants, placing the United Kingdom among the world’s most cosmopolitan and diverse countries.