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United kingdom

About United Kingdom

United Kingdom - The first industrialized nation

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, also commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK, or Britain, is a sovereign state consisting of Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland ) and  Northern Ireland. It is located in the southeast part of the British Isles between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, northwest of France.

The United Kingdom has historically played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith in the 19th century, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the earth\'s surface. The first half of the 20th century saw the UK\'s strength seriously depleted in two world wars and the Irish republic withdraw from the union. The second half witnessed the dismantling of the Empire and the UK rebuilding itself into a modern and prosperous European nation. Today UK remains a major economic and military power, with considerable political and cultural influence around the world.

As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a founding member of NATO, and of the Commonwealth of Nations, the UK pursues a global approach to foreign policy. The UK is also an active member of the EU, although it chose to remain outside the Economic and Monetary Union. It is also a member of the G8, G20,OECD, the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization.

The United Kingdom is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state of the UK . It has a parliamentary system of governance, with its seat of government in the capital city of London.

The UK does not have an official language but the predominant spoken language is English.

Presently, England\'s population is estimated to be approximately 51.5 million. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The UK is ethnically diverse, partly as a legacy of the empire. Lately, the country has been struggling with issues revolving around multiculturalism, immigration and national identity. One of the more recent trends in migration has been the arrival of workers from the new EU member states in Eastern Europe.

The United Kingdom was the world\'s first industrialised country. Today it has the sixth-largest economy in the world, is the third largest economy in the European Union, and is a major international trading power. It is one of the quintet of trillion dollar economies of Western Europe. The U.K. economy is a highly developed, diversified, market-based economy with extensive social welfare services which provide most residents with a high standard of living.

The UK has a partially regulated market economy which has for many years been based on service industries rather than on manufacturing. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance. Over the past two decades, the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil resources, but its oil and natural gas reserves are declining and the UK became a net importer of energy in 2005. In recent years, the UK economy has been managed in accordance with principles of market liberalization and low taxation and regulation. Since emerging from recession in 1992, Britain\'s economy has enjoyed the longest period of expansion on record during which time growth outpaced most of Western Europe.

London is a major centre for international business and commerce and is the leader of the three \"command centres\" for the global economy (along with New York City and Tokyo). It is the world\'s largest financial centre with the London Stock Exchange, the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange, and the Lloyd\'s of London insurance market all based in London. It is also a major legal centre, with four of the six largest law firms in the world headquartered there.  It has the largest concentration of foreign bank branches in the world. Many multinational companies that are not primarily UK-based have chosen London as the site of their European or rest-of-world headquarters. The Scottish capital, Edinburgh, is also one of the largest financial centres of Europe.

The currency of the UK is the pound sterling. The Bank of England and the Central Bank are responsible for issuing currency.  Pound sterling is also used as a reserve currency by other governments and institutions, and is the third-largest after the U.S. dollar and the euro.