Portal:United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain) is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The United Kingdom 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. The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are three devolved national administrations, each with varying powers, based 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 third 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 an MEDC and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and seventh-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It was the world's first industrialised state 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 European Union, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G8, the G20, NATO, the OECD and the World Trade Organization.

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Brick Lane

The East End of London is the area of London, England, east of the medieval walled City of London and north of the River Thames. Starting in the 19th century, the area experienced extreme overcrowding and a concentration of poor people and immigrants. Successive waves of immigration began with Huguenot refugees creating a new extramural suburb in Spitalfields in the 17th century. They were followed by Irish weavers, Ashkenazi Jews and, in the 20th century, Bangladeshis. Many of these immigrants worked in the clothing industry. The abundance of semi- and unskilled labour led to low wages and poor conditions throughout the East End. This brought the attentions of social reformers during the mid-18th century and led to the formation of unions and workers associations at the end of the century. The radicalism of the East End contributed to the formation of the Labour Party and demands for the enfranchisement of women. Official attempts to address the overcrowded housing began at the beginning of the 20th century under the London County Council. World War II devastated much of the East End, with its docks, railways and industry forming a continual target, leading to dispersal of the population to new suburbs, and new housing being built in the 1950s. The final closure of the London docks in 1980 created further challenges and led to attempts at regeneration and the formation of the London Docklands Development Corporation. The Canary Wharf development, improved infrastructure, and the Olympic Park mean that the East End is undergoing further change, but some of its parts continue to contain some of the worst poverty in Britain. (more...)

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Bruno Maddox is a British literary novelist and journalist who is best known for his critically acclaimed novel My Little Blue Dress (2001) and for his satirical magazine essays. After graduating from Harvard University in 1992, Maddox began his career reviewing books for The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post Book World. In early 1996, he was appointed to an editorship at SPY magazine and within a few months he was promoted to editor-in-chief, a position he held until the magazine shut down in 1998. Maddox wrote My Little Blue Dress between 1999 and 2001. Since its publication, he has focused on writing satirical essays for magazines such as GEAR and Travel + Leisure; he also contributes a monthly humor column to Discover magazine called "Blinded by Science", drawing on his early exposure to science and technology. Maddox is likewise a contributing editor to the American edition of The Week magazine. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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The Felbrigge Psalter
Artist: Unknown

The Felbrigge Psalter is the oldest book from England to have an embroidered bookbinding. The needlework on this mid-thirteenth century manuscript probably dates from the early fourteenth century, which puts it more than a century earlier than the next oldest embroidered binding to have survived. Both the design and execution depicting the annunciation are of exceptionally high quality.

In the newsedit

  • January 17: Irish rock band The Cranberries' lead singer Dolores O'Riordan dies at 46
  • January 15: BBC newsreader Alagiah to undergo treatment for bowel cancer
  • January 15: British surfers catch more than waves: Scientists find antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • January 4: Tennis: Andy Murray withdraws from Australian Open
  • January 3: England: Multi-storey carpark in Liverpool gutted by fire, 1,300 vehicles destroyed
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