The total area of the United Kingdom is 242,500 square kilometres (93,628 sq mi), with an estimated population in 2020 of 68 million. The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 1952.
Species of humans have lived in Britain, for almost a million years. The occupation was not continuous, probably because the climatewas too extreme at times for people to live there. Archaeological remains show that the first group of modern people to live in the British Isles were hunter-gatherers after the last ice age ended. The date is not known: perhaps as early as 8000BC but certainly by 5000BC. They built mesolithic wood and stone monuments. Stonehenge was built between 3000 and 1600BC. Celtic tribes arrived from mainland Europe. Britain was a changing collection of tribal areas, with no overall leader. Julius Caesar tried to invade (take over) the island in 55BC but was not able to do so. The Romans successfully invaded in 43AD.
Written history began in Britain when writing was brought to Britain by the Romans. Rome ruled in Britain from 44AD to 410AD. They ruled the southern two-thirds of Great Britain. The Romans never took over Ireland and never fully controlled Caledonia, the land north of the valleys of the River Forth and River Clyde. Their northern border varied from time to time, and was marked sometimes at Hadrian's Wall (in modern England), sometimes at the Antonine Wall(in modern Scotland). After the Romans, waves of immigrants came to Britain. Some were German tribes: the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. Others were Celts, like the Scoti, who came to Great Britain from Ireland. English and Scots are Germanic languages. They developed from Old English, the language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons of Anglo-Saxon England, an area stretching from the River Forth to the River Tamar.
The UK is north-west off the coast of mainland Europe. Around the UK are the North Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. The UK also rules, usually indirectly, a number of smaller places (mostly islands) around the world, which are known as British Overseas Territories. They were once part of the British Empire. Examples are Gibraltar (on the Iberian Peninsula next to the Strait of Gibraltar) and the Falkland Islands(in the south Atlantic Ocean). In the British Isles, the UK is made up of four different countries: Wales, England and Scotland and Northern Ireland. The capital city of Wales is Cardiff. The capital city of England is London. The capital city of Scotland is Edinburgh and the capital city of Northern Ireland is Belfast. Other large cities in the UK are Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle upon Tyne, Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, Southampton, Leicester, Coventry, Bradford and Nottingham. The physical geography of the UK varies greatly. England con...
The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy based on a constitutional monarchy. The people of the United Kingdom vote for a members of Parliament to speak for them and to make laws for them. Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is the head of state. The government, led by the Prime Minister, governs the country and appoints cabinet ministers. Today, the Prime Minister is Boris Johnson, who is the leader of the centre-right Conservative Party. Parliament is where laws are made. It has three parts: the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the Queen. The House of Commons is the most powerful part. It is where Members of Parliament sit. The Prime Minister sits here as well, because they are a Member of Parliament. Scotland has its own devolved Parliament with power to make laws on things like education, health and Scottish law. Northern Ireland and Wales have their own devolved legislatures which have some powers but le...
The United Kingdom has one of the most advanced militaries in the world, alongside such countries such as the USA and France, and operates a large navy (Royal Navy), a sizable army, (British Army) and an air force (Royal Air Force). From the 18th century to the early 20th century, the United Kingdom was one of the most powerful nations in the world, with a large and powerful navy (due to the fact it was surrounded by sea, so a large navy was the most practical option). This status has faded in recent times, but it remains a member of various military groups such as the UN Security Council and NATO. It is also still seen as a great military power.
The United Kingdom is a developed country with the sixth largest economy in the world. It was a superpowerduring the 18th, 19th and early 20th century and was considered since the early 1800s to be the most powerful and influential nation in the world, in politics, economics (For it was the wealthiest country at the time.) and in military strength. Britain continued to be the biggest manufacturing economy in the world until 1908 and the largest economy until the 1920s. The economic cost of two world wars and the decline of the British Empire in the 1950s and 1960s reduced its leading role in global affairs. The United Kingdom has strong economic, cultural, military and political influence and is a nuclear power. The United Kingdom holds a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, and is a member of the G8, NATO, World Trade Organization and the Commonwealth of Nations. The City of London, in the capital, is famous as being the largest centre of financein the world.
William Shakespeare was an English playwright. He wrote plays in the late 16th century. Some of his plays were Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. In the 19th century, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens were novelists. Twentieth century writers include the science fiction novelist H. G. Wells and J. R. R. Tolkien. The children's fantasy Harry Potter series was written by J. K. Rowling. Aldous Huxleywas also from the United Kingdom. English language literature is written by authors from many countries. Eight people from the United Kingdom have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Seamus Heaney is a writer who was born in Northern Ireland. Arthur Conan Doyle from Scotland wrote the Sherlock Holmes detective novels. He was from Edinburgh. The poet Dylan Thomasbrought Welsh culture to international attention.
The nature of education is a devolved matter in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They, and England, have separate, but similar, systems of education. They all have laws that a broad education is required from ages five to eighteen, except for in Scotland where school departure is allowed from the age of sixteen. Pupils attend state funded schools (academy schools, faith schools, grammar schools, city technology colleges, studio schools) and other children attend independent schools (known as public schools). There have been universities in Britain since the Middle Ages. The "ancient universities" started in this time and in the Renaissance. They are: the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of St Andrews, the University of Glasgow, the University of Aberdeen, and the University of Edinburgh. These are the oldest universities in the English-speaking world. The University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, and London universities (University Coll...
The BBC is an organisation in the United Kingdom. It broadcasts in the United Kingdom and other countries on television, radio and the Internet. The BBC also sells its programmes to other broadcasting companies around world. The organisation is run by a group of twelve governors who have been given the job by the Queen, on the advice of government ministers.
Road traffic in the United Kingdom drives on the left hand side of the road (unlike the Americas and most of Europe), and the driver steers from the right hand side of the vehicle. The road network on the island of Great Britain is extensive, with most local and rural roads having evolved from Roman and Medieval times. Major routes developed in the mid 20th Century were made to the needs of the motor car. The high speed motorway(freeway) network was mostly constructed in the 1960s and 1970s and links together major towns and cities. The system of rail transport was invented in England and Wales, so the United Kingdom has the oldest railway network in the world. It was built mostly during the Victorian era. At the heart of the network are five long distance main lines which radiate from London to the major cities and secondary population centres with dense commuter networks within the regions. The newest part of the network connects London to the Channel Tunnel from St Pancras statio...
The history of the United Kingdom began in the early eighteenth century with the Treaty of Union and Acts of Union.The core of the United Kingdom as a unified state came into being in 1707 with the political union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland, into a new unitary state called Great Britain.
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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK), since 1922, comprises four constituent countries: England, Scotland, and Wales (which collectively make up Great Britain), as well as Northern Ireland (variously described as a country, province or region).
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Acts of Union 1707
The first step towards political unification were taken on 1 May 1707, when the parliaments of Scotland and England approved Acts of Unionwhich combined the two parliaments and the two royal titles. Perhaps the greatest single benefit to Scotland of the Union was that Scotland could enjoy free tradewith England and her colonies overseas. For England's part, a possible ally for European states that were hostile to England had been neutralized. Certain aspect of the former independent kingdoms...
Ireland joins with the Act of Union
The second stage in the development of the United Kingdom took effect on 1 January 1801, when Great Britain merged with the Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland was completed under the Act of Union 1800. The country's name was changed to "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland". The Act was passed in the British and therefore unrepresentative Irish Parliament with substantial majorities achieved in part (accor...
Hostilities between Great Britain and France recommenced on 18 May 1803. The Coalition war-aims changed over the course of the conflict: a general desire to restore the French monarchy became closely linked to the struggle to stop Napoleon.The Napoleonic conflict had reached the point at which subsequent historians could talk of a "world war". Only the Seven Years' Waroffered a precedent for widespread conflict on such a scale.
The Victorian era marked the height of the British Industrial Revolution and the apex of the British Empire. Although commonly used to refer to the period of Queen Victoria's rule between 1837 and 1901, scholars debate whether the Victorian period–as defined by a variety of sensibilities and political concerns that have come to be associated with the Victorians–actually begins with the passage of Reform Act 1832. The era was preceded by the Regency era and succeeded by the Edwardian period. T...
In the 2001 General Election, the Labour Party won a second successive victory. Despite huge anti-war marches being held in London and Glasgow, Tony Blair gave strong support to the United State's invasion of Iraqin 2003. Forty-six thousand British troops, one-third of the total strength of the British Army (land forces), were active to assist with the invasion of Iraq and after that British armed forces were responsible for security in southern Iraq in the time before the Iraqi elections of January 2005. 2007 saw the conclusion of the premiership of Tony Blair, followed by that of Gordon Brown. The next prime minister, David Cameron, was elected in 2010. During his first term, the Scottish National Party (SNP) won the 2011 election to the Scottish Parliament. On 18 September 2014, the SNP held a referendum that asked the people of Scotland whether they want to be independent from the UK. 55% of voters wanted to remain in the UK. David Cameron was re-elected in 2015 on promises to h...
¹ The term "United Kingdom" was first used in the Union with Scotland Act 1706. However it is generally seen as a descriptive term, indicating that the kingdoms were freely united rather than through conquest. It is not seen as being actual nameof the new United Kingdom, which was (by article one) "Great Britain". The "United Kingdom" as a name is taken to refer to the kingdom that emerged when the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland merged on 1 January 1801. ² The name "Great Britain" (then spelt "Great Brittaine") was first used by James VI/I in October 1604, who indicated that henceforth he and his successors would be viewed as Kings of Great Britain, not Kings of England and Scotland. However the name was not applied to the state as a unit; both England and Scotland continued to be governed independently. Its validity as a name of the Crown is also questioned, given that monarchs continued using separate ordinals (e.g., James VI/I, James VII/II) in England and Scotla...
- Baronage evolution
- Peerage divisions
- Form of title
- Types of peers
The peerage in the United Kingdom is a legal system comprising both hereditary and lifetime titles, composed of various noble ranks, and forming a constituent part of the British honours system. The term peerage can be used both collectively to refer to the entire body of nobles, and individually to refer to a specific title. British peerage title holders are termed peers of the Realm. The peerage's fundamental roles are ones of government, peers being eligible to a seat in the House of Lords, a
The modern-day parliamentary peerage is a continuation of the renamed medieval baronage system which existed in feudal times. The requirement of attending Parliament was both a liability and a privilege for those who held land as a tenant-in-chief from the King per baroniam – that is to say, under the feudal contract wherein a King's Baron was responsible for raising knights and troops for the royal military service. Certain other office-holders such as senior clerics and Freemen of the ...
In the UK, five peerages co-exist, namely: 1. The Peerage of England – titles created by the Kings and Queens of England before the Act of Union in 1707. 2. The Peerage of Scotland – titles created by the Kings and Queens of Scotland before 1707. 3. The Peerage of Ireland – titles created for the Kingdom of Ireland before the Act of Union of 1801, and some titles created later. 4. The Peerage of Great Britain – titles created for the Kingdom of Great Britain between 1707 and 1801. 5 ...
Peers are of five ranks, in descending order of hierarchy: 1. Duke comes from the Latin dux, meaning 'leader'. The first duke in a peerage of the British Isles was created in 1337. The feminine form is Duchess. 2. Marquess comes from the French marquis, which is a derivative of marche or march. This is a reference to the borders between England, Scotland, and Wales, a relationship more evident in the feminine form, Marchioness. The first marquess in a peerage of the British Isles was created in
The titles of peers are in the form of " " or " of ". The name of the title can either be a place name or a surname or a combination of both. The precise usage depends on the rank of the peerage and on certain other general considerations. For instance, Dukes always use "of". Marquesses and Earls whose titles are based on place names normally use "of", while those whose titles are based on surnames normally do not. Viscounts, Barons and Lords of Parliament generally do not use "of". However, the
A hereditary peer is a peer of the realm whose dignity may be inherited; those able to inherit it are said to be "in remainder". Hereditary peerage dignities may be created with writs of summons or by letters patent; the former method is now obsolete. Writs of summons summon an i
From 1707 until 1963, Scottish peers elected 16 representative peers to sit in the House of Lords. Since 1963, they have had the same rights as Peers of the United Kingdom. From 1801 until 1922, Irish peers elected 28 representative peers to sit in the House of Lords. Since 1922,
Apart from hereditary peerages, there exist peerages that may be held for life and whose title cannot be passed onto someone else by inheritance. The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 and the Life Peerages Act 1958 authorise the regular creation of life peerages, with the right to