Nations of the World – United Kingdom – Europe

The nation known as the United Kingdom was born out of conquest. The Norman invaders consolidated their control of England beginning in 1066. Wales joined England in 1536, and both joined Scotland in 1707. In 1800, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was formed. Ireland remained uneasy, and by 1922 only the six northern counties remained in the United Kingdom.

The temperate maritime climate and extensive lowlands give the UK an excellent agricultural base. The country was richly endowed with minerals, but most of these have been depleted except for coal (much of which is now considered uneconomic) and North Sea oil and gas.

It was the sixteenth-century maritime power that put England on the world map as a trading and colonial power; cities like London, Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester grew rapidly in importance. This wealth, and that derived from agricultural improvements in the 17th and 18th centuries, paved the way for the Industrial Revolution that took place in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Iron and steel, engineering goods, textiles, ceramics and much more made the UK the ‘workshop of the world’. Cities like Sheffield, Glasgow or Belfast grew at a truly amazing rate, leaving a serious problem of urban improvement and renewal of the 20th century.

Since the mid-1940s, the UK has experienced increasing difficulty adjusting to the loss of empire and its diminished global role. The capital city, London, remains one of the world’s leading financial centers (the second largest after New York) and modern manufacturing has expanded at a rapid rate, especially in the south of England. The rich national heritage, culture and beautiful scenery attract a large number of visitors from all over the world.

The UK economy is the sixth largest in the world today. The service sector accounts for roughly around 73% of the gross domestic product. Typical popular industries within the UK service sector include telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, waste disposal, education, public health, legal services, tourism, UK cheap car hire and real estate.

UK key figures

  • Area: 241,752 square kilometers / 93,341 square miles
  • Capital City: London
  • State Memberships: EC, COMM, EBRD, ECE, EU, G7, NATO, OECD
  • Population: 58,395,000 (0.3% growth rate)
  • Life expectancy: 74 (male), 79 (female)
  • Languages: English, Welsh
  • Adult Literacy Rate: 99%
  • Currency: British Pound (£)
  • GNP: 1,069,457 (millions of US$)
  • GNP per capita: 18,410 (millions of US$).

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