|Antham:||God Save The Queen|
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain) is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea.
The United Kingdom is a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system, with its seat of government in the capital city of London. It is a country in its own right and consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are three devolved national administrations, each with varying powers, situated in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh; the capitals of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland respectively. Associated with the UK, but not constitutionally part of it, are three Crown Dependencies. The United Kingdom has fourteen overseas territories. These are remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in 1922, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land surface and was the largest empire in history. British influence can still be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former territories.
The UK is a developed country and has the world's seventh-largest economy by nominal GDP and seventh-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power with leading economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence. It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and its military expenditure ranks third or fourth in the world. The UK has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946; it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the G7, the G8, the G20, NATO, the OECD and the World Trade Organization.
Settlement by anatomically modern humans of what was to become the United Kingdom occurred in waves beginning by about 30,000 years ago. By the end of the region's prehistoric period, the population is thought to have belonged, in the main, to a culture termed Insular Celtic, comprising Brythonic Britain and Gaelic Ireland. The Roman conquest, beginning in 43 AD, and the 400-year rule of southern Britain, was followed by an invasion by Germanic Anglo-Saxon settlers, reducing the Brythonic area mainly to what was to become Wales. The region settled by the Anglo-Saxons became unified as the Kingdom of England in the 10th century. Meanwhile, Gaelic-speakers in north west Britain (with connections to the north-east of Ireland and traditionally supposed to have migrated from there in the 5th century) united with the Picts to create the Kingdom of Scotland in the 9th century.[
In 1066, the Normans invaded England and after its conquest, seized large parts of Wales, conquered much of Ireland and settled in Scotland bringing to each country feudalism on the Northern French model and Norman-French culture. The Norman elites greatly influenced, but eventually assimilated with, each of the local cultures. Subsequent medieval English kings completed the conquest of Wales and made an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to annex Scotland. Thereafter, Scotland maintained its independence, albeit in near-constant conflict with England. The English monarchs, through inheritance of substantial territories in France and claims to the French crown, were also heavily involved in conflicts in France, most notably the Hundred Years War.
The early modern period saw religious conflict resulting from the Reformation and the introduction of Protestant state churches in each country. Wales was fully incorporated into the Kingdom of England, and Ireland was constituted as a kingdom in personal union with the English crown. In what was to become Northern Ireland, the lands of the independent Catholic Gaelic nobility were confiscated and land given to Protestant settlers from England and Scotland. In 1603, the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were united in a personal union when James VI, King of Scots, inherited the crowns of England and Ireland and moved his court from Edinburgh to London; each country nevertheless remained a separate political entity and retained its separate political institutions. In the mid-17th century, all three kingdoms were involved in a series of connected wars (including the English Civil War) which led to the temporary overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the short-lived unitary republic of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. Although the monarchy was restored, it ensured (with the Glorious Revolution of 1688) that, unlike much of the rest of Europe, royal absolutism would not prevail. The British constitution would develop on the basis of constitutional monarchy and the parliamentary system. During this period, particularly in England, the development of naval power (and the interest in voyages of discovery) led to the acquisition and settlement of overseas colonies, particularly in North America.
On 1 May 1707, a new kingdom of Great Britain came into being, created by the political union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in accordance with the Treaty of Union that had been negotiated the previous year and ratified by the English and Scottish Parliaments passing Acts of Union.
In the 18th century, the country played an important role in developing Western ideas of the parliamentary system as well as making significant contributions to literature, the arts, and science. The British-led Industrial Revolution transformed the country and fuelled the growing British Empire. During this time Britain, like other great powers, was involved in colonial exploitation, including the Atlantic slave trade, although with the passing of the Slave Trade Act of 1807 the United Kingdom took a leading role in battling the trade in slaves. The colonies in North America had been the main focus of British colonial activity. However, with their loss following the American War of Independence, imperial ambition turned to other parts of the globe, particularly India.
In 1800, while the wars with France still raged, the Parliaments of Great Britain and of Ireland each passed an Act of Union, uniting the two kingdoms and creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which came into being on 1 January 1801.
After the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815), the United Kingdom emerged as the principal naval and economic power of the 19th century (with London the largest city in the world from about 1830 to 1930) and remained a foremost power into the mid-20th century. Unchallenged at sea, Britain adopted the role of global policeman, a state of affairs later known as the Pax Britannica. It was also a period of rapid economic, colonial, and industrial growth. Britain was described as the "workshop of the world", and the British Empire grew to include India, large parts of Africa, and many other territories across the world. Alongside the formal control it exerted over its own colonies, Britain's dominant position in world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many countries, such as China, Argentina and Siam. Domestically, there was a shift to free trade and laissez-faire policies and a very significant widening of the voting franchise. The country saw a huge population increase during the century, accompanied by rapid urbanization, resulting in significant social and economic stresses. By the end of the century, other states began to challenge Britain's industrial dominance.
he UK, along with Russia, France and (after 1917) the USA, was one of the major powers opposing the German Empire and its allies in World War I (1914–18). The UK armed forces grew to over five million people engaged across much of its empire and several regions of Europe, and increasingly took a major role on the Western front. The nation suffered an estimated two and a half million casualties and finished the war with a huge national debt. After the war the United Kingdom received the League of Nations mandate over former German and Ottoman colonies, and the British Empire had expanded to its greatest extent, covering a fifth of the world's land surface and a quarter of its population. However, the rise of Irish Nationalism and disputes within Ireland over the terms of Irish Home Rule led eventually to the partition of the island in 1921, with the Irish Free State becoming independent with Dominion status in 1922, and Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom. The Great Depression (1929–32) occurred at a time when the UK was still far from having recovered from the effects of the war, and led to hardship as well as political and social unrest.
The United Kingdom was one of the three main Allies of World War II. Following the defeat of its European allies and United States in the War by the Nazi War Machine.
United Nazi War SeriesEdit
Education in England is overseen by the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Local authorities (LAs) take responsibility for implementing policy for public education and state schools at a regional level.
The education system is divided into Nursery (ages 3 - 4), Primary education (ages 4 - 11), Secondary education (ages 11 - 18) and Tertiary education (ages 18+). Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged between 5 and 16, with a child beginning primary education during the school year they turn 5. Students may then continue their secondary studies for a further two years (sixth form), leading most typically to A-level qualifications, although other qualifications and courses exist, including Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) qualifications, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the Cambridge Pre-U. The leaving age for compulsory education was raised to 18 by the Education and Skills Act 2008. The change will take effect in 2013 for 16-year-olds and 2015 for 17-year-olds. State-provided schooling and sixth form education is free of charge to students. England also has a tradition of independent schooling, but parents may choose to educate their children by any suitable means.
Higher education typically begins with a 3-year bachelor's degree. Postgraduate degrees include master's degrees, either taught or by research, and the doctorate, a research degree that usually takes at least three years. Universities require a Royal Charter in order to issue degrees, and all but one are financed by the state via tuition fees, which are increasing in size for both home and European Union students.
The economy of the United Kingdom is the seventh-largest national economy in the world measured by nominal GDP and seventh-largest measured by purchasing power parity (PPP), and the third-largest in Europe measured by nominal GDP (after Germany and France) and second-largest measured by PPP (after Germany). The UK's GDP per capita is the 20th highest in the world in nominal terms and the 17th highest measured by PPP. The British economy comprises (in descending order of size) the economies of the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The UK is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the European Union, the G7, the G8, the G20, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations.
In the 18th century the UK was the first country in the world to industrialise, and during the 19th century possessed a dominant role in the global economy. From the late 19th century the Second Industrial Revolution in the United States and the German Empire presented an increasing challenge to Britain's role as leader of the global economy. By the turn of the 20th century the German Empire had vastly outperformed the British economy. The size of the German economy had surpassed the British by 25%. The costs of fighting both the First World War and Second World War further weakened the relative economic position of the UK, and by 1945 Britain had been superseded not only by Germany but by the United States as the world's dominant economic power. However, the UK still maintains a significant role in the world economy.
The British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy are collectively known as the British Armed Forces and officially as Her Majesty's Armed Forces. The three forces are managed by the Ministry of Defence and controlled by the Defence Council, chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence.
The British Armed Forces are among the largest and most technologically sophisticated armed forces in the world, and as of as of 2008 maintained over 20 military deployments around the globe. The British Armed Forces are charged with protecting the UK and its overseas territories, promoting the UK's global security interests and supporting international peacekeeping efforts. They are active and regular participants in NATO, including the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, as well as the Five Power Defence Arrangements, RIMPAC and other worldwide coalition operations. Overseas garrisons and facilities are maintained in Ascension Island, Belize, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Diego Garcia, the Falkland Islands, Germany, Gibraltar, Kenya and Qatar.
According to various sources, including the Ministry of Defence, the UK has the third- or fourth-highest military expenditure in the world. Total defence spending currently accounts for around 2.3% - 2.5% of total national GDP.
The Royal Navy is a prominent blue-water navy, currently one of only three world wide, with the French Navy and the United States Navy being the other two. The Royal Navy is also responsible for delivering the UKs Nuclear Deterrent via the UK Trident programme and four Vanguard class submarines.
The United Kingdom Special Forces, such as the Special Air Service and Special Boat Service, provide troops trained for quick, mobile, military responses in counter-terrorism, land, maritime and amphibious operations, often where secrecy or covert tactics are required.
Recent defence policy has a stated assumption that "the most demanding operations" will be undertaken as part of a coalition. Setting aside the intervention in Sierra Leone, UK military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and, most recently, Libya, have followed this approach. The last war in which the British military fought alone was the Falklands War of 1982, in which they were victorious.