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Map of the United Kingdom in the British Isles.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands within the British Isles. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland; otherwise, the United Kingdom 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 242,495 square kilometres (93,628 sq mi), with an estimated 2020 population of more than 67 million people.

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with a metropolitan area population of over 14 million. Other major cities include Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and Leeds. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers.

The United Kingdom has evolved from a series of annexations, unions and separations of constituent countries over several hundred years. The Treaty of Union between the Kingdom of England (which included Wales, annexed in 1542) and the Kingdom of Scotland in 1707 formed the Kingdom of Great Britain. Its union in 1801 with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Most of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which formally adopted that name in 1927. The UK became the world's first industrialised country and was the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 21st century, the UK retains considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific, technological and political influence.

The United Kingdom has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), and the eighth-largest by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and a very high Human Development Index rating, ranking 18th in the world. It also performs well in international rankings of education, healthcare, life expectancy and human development. It is a recognised nuclear state and is ranked fourth globally in military expenditure. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations 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, the Group of Ten, the G20, Five Eyes, the United Nations, NATO, AUKUS, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Interpol, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). It was a member state of the European Communities (EC) and its successor, the European Union (EU), from its accession in 1973 until its withdrawal in 2020 following a referendum held in 2016. (Full article...)

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Medieval plowing with oxen

Carucage was a medieval English land tax introduced by King Richard I in 1194, based on the size of the estate owned by the taxpayer. It was a replacement for the danegeld, last imposed in 1162, which had become difficult to collect because of an increasing number of exemptions. Carucage was levied just six times: by Richard in 1194 and 1198; John, his brother and successor, in 1200; and John's son, Henry III, in 1217, 1220, and 1224, after which it was replaced by taxes on income and personal property. The taxable value of an estate was initially assessed from the Domesday Survey, but other methods were later employed, such as valuations based on the sworn testimony of neighbours or on the number of plough-teams the taxpayer used. Carucage never raised as much as other taxes, but nevertheless helped to fund several projects dear to the kings' hearts. It paid the ransom for Richard's release in 1194, after he was taken prisoner by Leopold V, Duke of Austria; it covered the tax John had to pay Philip II of France in 1200 on land he inherited in that country; and it helped to finance Henry III's military campaigns in England and on the European continent. Carucage was an attempt to secure new sources of revenue to supplement and increase royal income in a time when new demands were being made on royal finances. (Full article...)

Featured biography

David I of Scotland

David I (1083–1153) was a 12th-century ruler who was Prince of the Cumbrians and later King of the Scots. The youngest son of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada and Margaret, David spent most of his childhood in Scotland, but was exiled to England in 1093. At some point, perhaps after 1100, he became a hanger-on at the court of King Henry I and experienced long exposure to Norman and Anglo-French culture. When David's brother Alexander I of Scotland died in 1124, David chose, with the backing of Henry I, to take the Kingdom of Scotland (Alba) for himself. He was forced to engage in warfare against his rival and nephew, Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair. Subduing the latter took David ten years, and involved the destruction of Óengus, Mormaer of Moray. David's victory allowed him to expand his control over more distant regions theoretically part of his Kingdom. After the death of his former patron Henry I, David supported the claims of Henry's daughter and his own niece, the former Empress-consort, Matilda, to the throne of England; in the process, he came into conflict with King Stephen and was able to expand his power in northern England, despite his defeat at the Battle of the Standard in 1138. The term "Davidian Revolution" is used by many scholars to summarise the changes which took place in the Kingdom of Scotland during his reign. (Full article...)

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UK geography · UK politics · UK subdivisions
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Baronetcies · Clans of Scotland · Cricket · Terry Pratchett's Discworld · Football clubs · Sherlock Holmes · British military history · Peerage

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29 November 2022 – China–United Kingdom relations
2022 COVID-19 protests in China
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom summons Chinese ambassador Zheng Zeguang over the arrest of BBC News journalist Edward Lawrence while covering the protests in Shanghai. (AFP via CNA)
29 November 2022 – November 2021 English Channel disaster
The Gloucestershire Constabulary arrest a man near Cheltenham, Cotswolds, England, as a prime suspect in conspiring to transport 30 illegal immigrants from France to the United Kingdom on an inflatable boat, of which all but three died when the boat capsized in transit along the English Channel in 2021. (AFP via The Star)
24 November 2022 – Modern immigration to the United Kingdom
Net migration to the United Kingdom reaches a record of 504,000 in 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics. The record increase is primarily due to non-EU migration, the resumption of post-pandemic travel, the arrival of Afghan and Ukrainian refugees, and immigration from Hong Kong. (BBC News)
24 November 2022 – China–United Kingdom relations
The Government of the United Kingdom orders its departments to remove and refrain from installing closed-circuit television systems manufactured by companies that are under China's national intelligence law at "sensitive" buildings, citing security concerns. (CNBC)
23 November 2022 – Russo-Ukrainian War
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announces that the United Kingdom will send three Sea King helicopters to the Ukrainian Air Force as part of a new £50 million support package to Ukraine. (The Telegraph)

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This page was last updated at 2022-12-07 18:12 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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