This article is about the country. It is not to be confused with Great Britain, its largest island whose name is also loosely applied to the whole country.
"UK" redirects here. For other uses of "UK", see UK (disambiguation). For other uses of "United Kingdom", see United Kingdom (disambiguation).
United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland

In the final quarter of 2008, as a result of the Great Recession, the UK economy officially entered recession for the first time since 1991.[247] Unemployment increased from 5.2% in May 2008 to 7.6% in May 2009 and by January 2012 the unemployment rate among 18- to 24-year-olds had risen from 11.9% to 22.5%, the highest since current records began in 1992, although it had fallen to 14.2% by November 2015.[248][249][250] Total UK government debt rose quickly from 44.4% of GDP in 2007 to 82.9% of GDP in 2011, then increased more slowly to 87.5% of GDP in 2015.[251][252] Following the likes of the United States, France and many major economies, in February 2013, the UK lost its top AAA credit rating for the first time since 1978 with Moodys and Fitch credit agency while, unlike the other major economies retained their triple A rating with the largest agency Standard & Poor's.[253][254] However, by the end of 2014, UK growth was the fastest in both the G7 and in Europe,[255][256] and by September 2015, the unemployment rate was down to a seven-year low of 5.3%.[257]

As a direct result of the Great Recession between 2010 and the third quarter of 2012 wages in the UK fell by 3.2%,[258] but by 2015 real wages were growing by 3%, having grown faster than inflation since 2014.[259] Since the 1980s, UK economic inequality, like Canada, Australia and the United States has grown faster than in other developed countries.[260][261]

The poverty line in the UK is commonly defined as being 60% of the median household income.[note 10] In 2007–2008 13.5 million people, or 22% of the population, lived below this line. This is a higher level of relative poverty than all but four other EU members.[262] In the same year 4.0 million children, 31% of the total, lived in households below the poverty line after housing costs were taken into account. This is a decrease of 400,000 children since 1998–1999.[263] The UK imports 40% of its food supplies.[264] The Office for National Statistics has estimated that in 2011, 14 million people were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, and that one person in 20 (5.1%) was now experiencing "severe material depression",[265] up from 3 million people in 1977.[266][267]

The UK has an external debt of $9.6 trillion dollars which is second highest in the world after the US which has an external debt of 18.5 trillion dollars. As a percentage of GDP, external debt is 408% which is third highest in the world after Luxembourg and Iceland.[268][269][270][271][272]

The combination of the UK's relatively lax regulatory regime and London's financial institutions providing sophisticated methods to launder proceeds from criminal activity around the world, including those from drug trade, makes the City of London a global hub for illicit finance and the UK a safe haven for the world's major-league tax dodgers, according to research papers and reports published in the mid-2010s.[273][274][275][276][277] The reports on the Panama papers published in April 2016 singled out the UK as being "at the heart of super-rich tax-avoidance network."[278]

Science and technologyEdit

File:Darwin restored2.jpg

England and Scotland were leading centres of the Scientific Revolution from the 17th century[279] and the United Kingdom led the Industrial Revolution from the 18th century,[228] and has continued to produce scientists and engineers credited with important advances.[280] Major theorists from the 17th and 18th centuries include Isaac Newton, whose laws of motion and illumination of gravity have been seen as a keystone of modern science;[281] from the 19th century Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution by natural selection was fundamental to the development of modern biology, and James Clerk Maxwell, who formulated classical electromagnetic theory; and more recently Stephen Hawking, who has advanced major theories in the fields of cosmology, quantum gravity and the investigation of black holes.[282]

Major scientific discoveries from the 18th century include hydrogen by Henry Cavendish;[283] from the 20th century penicillin by Alexander Fleming,[284] and the structure of DNA, by Francis Crick and others.[285] Famous British engineers and inventors of the Industrial Revolution include James Watt, George Stephenson, Richard Arkwright, Robert Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel.[286] Other major engineering projects and applications by people from the UK include the steam locomotive, developed by Richard Trevithick and Andrew Vivian;[287] from the 19th century the electric motor by Michael Faraday, the incandescent light bulb by Joseph Swan,[288] and the first practical telephone, patented by Alexander Graham Bell;[289] and in the 20th century the world's first working television system by John Logie Baird and others,[290] the jet engine by Frank Whittle, the basis of the modern computer by Alan Turing, and the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee.[291]

Scientific research and development remains important in British universities, with many establishing science parks to facilitate production and co-operation with industry.[292] Between 2004 and 2008 the UK produced 7% of the world's scientific research papers and had an 8% share of scientific citations, the third and second highest in the world (after the United States and China, respectively).[293] Scientific journals produced in the UK include Nature, the British Medical Journal and The Lancet.[294]


File:Heathrow T5.jpg

A radial road network totals Template:Convert/mi of main roads, Template:Convert/mi of motorways and Template:Convert/mi of paved roads.[123] The M25, encircling London, is the largest and busiest bypass in the world.[297] In 2009 there were a total of 34 million licensed vehicles in Great Britain.[298]

File:St Pancras Railway Station 2012-06-23.jpg

The UK has a railway network of Template:Convert/miTemplate:Convert/test/Aout in Great Britain and Template:Convert/miTemplate:Convert/test/Aout in Northern Ireland. Railways in Northern Ireland are operated by NI Railways, a subsidiary of state-owned Translink. In Great Britain, the British Rail network was privatised between 1994 and 1997, which was followed by a rapid rise in passenger numbers following years of decline, although the factors behind this are disputed. Network Rail owns and manages most of the fixed assets (tracks, signals etc.). About 20 privately owned Train Operating Companies operate passenger trains, which carried 1.68 billion passengers in 2015.[299][300] There are also some 1,000 freight trains in daily operation.Template:When[123] The British Government is to spend £30 billion on a new high-speed railway line, HS2, to be operational by 2026.[301] Crossrail, under construction in London, is Europe's largest construction project with a £15 billion projected cost.[302][303]

In the year from October 2009 to September 2010 UK airports handled a total of 211.4 million passengers.[304] In that period the three largest airports were London Heathrow Airport (65.6 million passengers), Gatwick Airport (31.5 million passengers) and London Stansted Airport (18.9 million passengers).[304] London Heathrow Airport, located Template:Convert/mi west of the capital, has the most international passenger traffic of any airport in the world[295][296] and is the hub for the UK flag carrier British Airways, as well as Virgin Atlantic.[305]


File:Oil platform in the North SeaPros.jpg

In 2006, the UK was the world's ninth-largest consumer of energy and the 15th-largest producer.[306] The UK is home to a number of large energy companies, including two of the six oil and gas "supermajors"—BP and Royal Dutch Shell—and BG Group.[307][308] In 2011, 40% of the UK's electricity was produced by gas, 30% by coal, 19% by nuclear power and 4.2% by wind, hydro, biofuels and wastes.[309]

In 2013, the UK produced 914 thousand barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil and consumed 1,507 thousand bbl/d.[310][311] Production is now in decline and the UK has been a net importer of oil since 2005.[312] In 2010[update] the UK had around 3.1 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves, the largest of any EU member state.[312] In 2009, 66.5% of the UK's oil supply was imported.[313]

In 2009, the UK was the 13th-largest producer of natural gas in the world and the largest producer in the EU.[314] Production is now in decline and the UK has been a net importer of natural gas since 2004.[314] In 2009, half of British gas was supplied from imports as domestic reserves are depleted.[309]

Coal production played a key role in the UK economy in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the mid-1970s, 130 million tonnes of coal was being produced annually, not falling below 100 million tonnes until the early 1980s. During the 1980s and 1990s the industry was scaled back considerably. In 2011, the UK produced 18.3 million tonnes of coal.[315] In 2005 it had proven recoverable coal reserves of 171 million tons.[315] The UK Coal Authority has stated there is a potential to produce between 7 billion tonnes and 16 billion tonnes of coal through underground coal gasification (UCG) or 'fracking',[316] and that, based on current UK coal consumption, such reserves could last between 200 and 400 years.[317] However, environmental and social concerns have been raised over chemicals getting into the water table and minor earthquakes damaging homes.[318][319]

In the late 1990s, nuclear power plants contributed around 25% of total annual electricity generation in the UK, but this has gradually declined as old plants have been shut down and ageing-related problems affect plant availability. In 2012, the UK had 16 reactors normally generating about 19% of its electricity. All but one of the reactors will be retired by 2023. Unlike Germany and Japan, the UK intends to build a new generation of nuclear plants from about 2018.[309]

The total of all renewable electricity sources provided for 14.9% of the electricity generated in the United Kingdom in 2013,[320] reaching 53.7 TWh of electricity generated. The UK is one of the best sites in Europe for wind energy, and wind power production is its fastest growing supply, in 2014 it generated 9.3% of the UK's total electricity.[321][322][323]

Water supply and sanitationEdit

Access to improved water supply and sanitation in the UK is universal. It is estimated that 96.7% of households are connected to the sewer network.[324] According to the Environment Agency, total water abstraction for public water supply in the UK was 16,406 megalitres per day in 2007.[325] In England and Wales the economic regulator of water companies is the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat). The Environment Agency is responsible for environmental regulation, and the Drinking Water Inspectorate for regulating drinking water quality. The economic water industry regulator in Scotland is the Water Industry Commission for Scotland and the environmental regulator is the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Drinking water standards and wastewater discharge standards in the UK, as in other countries of the European Union, are determined by the EU (see Water supply and sanitation in the European Union).

In England and Wales water and sewerage services are provided by 10 private regional water and sewerage companies and 13 mostly smaller private "water only" companies. In Scotland water and sewerage services are provided by a single public company, Scottish Water. In Northern Ireland water and sewerage services are also provided by a single public entity, Northern Ireland Water.


File:Population density UK 2011 census.png

A census is taken simultaneously in all parts of the UK every ten years.[326] The Office for National Statistics is responsible for collecting data for England and Wales, the General Register Office for Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency each being responsible for censuses in their respective countries.[327] In the 2011 census the total population of the United Kingdom was 63,181,775.[328] It is the third-largest in the European Union, the fifth-largest in the Commonwealth and the 22nd-largest in the world. In mid-2014 and mid-2015 net long-term international migration contributed more to population growth. In mid-2012 and mid-2013 natural change contributed the most to population growth.[329] Between 2001 and 2011 the population increased by an average annual rate of approximately 0.7%.[328] This compares to 0.3% per year in the period 1991 to 2001 and 0.2% in the decade 1981 to 1991.[330] The 2011 census also confirmed that the proportion of the population aged 0–14 has nearly halved (31% in 1911 compared to 18 in 2011) and the proportion of older people aged 65 and over has more than tripled (from 5 to 16%).[328] It has been estimated that the number of people aged 100 or over will rise steeply to reach over 626,000 by 2080.[331]

England's population in 2011 was found to be 53 million.[332] It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with 420 people resident per square kilometre in mid-2015.[329] with a particular concentration in London and the south-east.[333] The 2011 census put Scotland's population at 5.3 million,[334] Wales at 3.06 million and Northern Ireland at 1.81 million.[332] In percentage terms England has had the fastest growing population of any country of the UK in the period from 2001 to 2011, with an increase of 7.9%.

In 2012 the average total fertility rate (TFR) across the UK was 1.92 children per woman.[335] While a rising birth rate is contributing to current population growth, it remains considerably below the 'baby boom' peak of 2.95 children per woman in 1964,[336] below the replacement rate of 2.1, but higher than the 2001 record low of 1.63.[335] In 2012, Scotland had the lowest TFR at only 1.67, followed by Wales at 1.88, England at 1.94, and Northern Ireland at 2.03.[335] In 2011, 47.3% of births in the UK were to unmarried women.[337] The Office for National Statistics published an "Experimental Official Statistics" bulletin in 2015 showing that, out of the UK population aged 16 and over, 1.7% identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (2.0% of males and 1.5% of females). 4.5% of respondents responded with "other", "I don't know", or did not respond.[338]

Template:Largest Urban Areas of the United Kingdom

Ethnic groupsEdit

File:Non-white in the 2011 census.png

Historically, indigenous British people were thought to be descended from the various ethnic groups that settled there before the 11th century: the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Norse and the Normans. Welsh people could be the oldest ethnic group in the UK.[339] A 2006 genetic study shows that more than 50% of England's gene pool contains Germanic Y chromosomes.[340] Another 2005 genetic analysis indicates that "about 75% of the traceable ancestors of the modern British population had arrived in the British isles by about 6,200 years ago, at the start of the British Neolithic or Stone Age", and that the British broadly share a common ancestry with the Basque people.[341][342][343]

The UK has a history of small-scale non-white immigration, with Liverpool having the oldest Black population in the country dating back to at least the 1730s during the period of the African slave trade. During this period it is estimated the Afro-Caribbean population of Great Britain was 10,000 to 15,000[344] which later declined due to the abolition of slavery.[345][346] The UK also has the oldest Chinese community in Europe, dating to the arrival of Chinese seamen in the 19th century.[347] In 1950 there were probably fewer than 20,000 non-white residents in Britain, almost all born overseas.[348] In 1951 there were an estimated 94,500 people living in Britain who had been born in South Asia, China, Africa and the Caribbean, just under 0.2% of the UK population. By 1961 this number had more than quadrupled to 384,000, just over 0.7% of the United Kingdom population.[349]

Since 1948 substantial immigration from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia has been a legacy of ties forged by the British Empire.[350] Migration from new EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe since 2004 has resulted in growth in these population groups, although some of this migration has been temporary.[351] Since the 1990s, there has been substantial diversification of the immigrant population, with migrants to the UK coming from a much wider range of countries than previous waves, which tended to involve larger numbers of migrants coming from a relatively small number of countries.[352][353][354]

Academics have argued that the ethnicity categories employed in British national statistics, which were first introduced in the 1991 census, involve confusion between the concepts of ethnicity and race.[355][356] In 2011[update], 87.2% of the UK population identified themselves as white, meaning 12.8% of the UK population identify themselves as of one of number of ethnic minority groups.[357] In the 2001 census, this figure was 7.9% of the UK population.[358]

Because of differences in the wording of the census forms used in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, data on the Other White group is not available for the UK as a whole, but in England and Wales this was the fastest growing group between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, increasing by 1.1 million (1.8 percentage points).[359] Amongst groups for which comparable data is available for all parts of the UK level, there was considerable growth in the size of the Other Asian category, which increased from 0.4 to 1.4% of the population between 2001 and 2011.[357][358] There was also considerable growth in the Mixed category. In 2001, people in this category accounted for 1.2% of the UK population;[358] by 2011, the proportion was 2%.[357]

Ethnic diversity varies significantly across the UK. 30.4% of London's population and 37.4% of Leicester's was estimated to be non-white in 2005[update],[360][361] whereas less than 5% of the populations of North East England, Wales and the South West were from ethnic minorities, according to the 2001 census.[362] In 2016[update], 31.4% of primary and 27.9% of secondary pupils at state schools in England were members of an ethnic minority.[363]

Ethnic group Population (absolute) Population (%)
2001[364] 2011 2011[357]
White 54,153,898 55,010,359 087.1 %
White: Gypsy / Traveller /
Irish Traveller[note 11]
63,193 000.1 %
Asian /
Asian British
Indian 1,053,411 1,451,862 002.3 %
Pakistani 747,285 1,174,983 001.9 %
Bangladeshi 283,063 451,529 000.7 %
Chinese 247,403 433,150 000.7 %
other Asian 247,664 861,815 001.4 %
Black / African / Caribbean /
Black British
[note 12]
003.0 %
mixed / multiple ethnic groups 677,117 1,250,229 002.0 %
other ethnic group 230,615 580,374 000.9 %
Total 58,789,194 63,182,178 100.0 %



The UK's de facto official language is English.[369][370] It is estimated that 95% of the UK's population are monolingual English speakers.[371] 5.5% of the population are estimated to speak languages brought to the UK as a result of relatively recent immigration.[371] South Asian languages, including Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Gujarati, are the largest grouping and are spoken by 2.7% of the UK population.[371] According to the 2011 census, Polish has become the second-largest language spoken in England and has 546,000 speakers.[372]

Four Celtic languages are spoken in the UK: Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Cornish. All are recognised as regional or minority languages, subject to specific measures of protection and promotion under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages[3][373] and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.[374] In the 2001 Census over a fifth (21%) of the population of Wales said they could speak Welsh,[375] an increase from the 1991 Census (18%).[376] In addition it is estimated that about 200,000 Welsh speakers live in England.[377] In the same census in Northern Ireland 167,487 people (10.4%) stated that they had "some knowledge of Irish" (see Irish language in Northern Ireland), almost exclusively in the nationalist (mainly Catholic) population. Over 92,000 people in Scotland (just under 2% of the population) had some Gaelic language ability, including 72% of those living in the Outer Hebrides.[378] The number of schoolchildren being taught through Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish is increasing.[379] Among emigrant-descended populations some Scottish Gaelic is still spoken in Canada (principally Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island),[380] and Welsh in Patagonia, Argentina.[381]

Scots, a language descended from early northern Middle English, has limited recognition alongside its regional variant, Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland, without specific commitments to protection and promotion.[3][382]

It is compulsory for pupils to study a second language up to the age of 14 in England.[383] French and German are the two most commonly taught second languages in England and Scotland. All pupils in Wales are taught Welsh as a second language up to age 16, or are taught in Welsh.[384]


File:West Side of Westminster Abbey, London - - 1406999.jpg

Forms of Christianity have dominated religious life in what is now the United Kingdom for over 1400 years.[385] Although a majority of citizens still identify with Christianity in many surveys, regular church attendance has fallen dramatically since the middle of the 20th century,[386] while immigration and demographic change have contributed to the growth of other faiths, most notably Islam.[387] This has led some commentators to variously describe the UK as a multi-faith,[388] secularised,[389] or post-Christian society.[390]

In the 2001 census 71.6% of all respondents indicated that they were Christians, with the next largest faiths being Islam (2.8%), Hinduism (1.0%), Sikhism (0.6%), Judaism (0.5%), Buddhism (0.3%) and all other religions (0.3%).[391] 15% of respondents stated that they had no religion, with a further 7% not stating a religious preference.[392] A Tearfund survey in 2007 showed only one in ten Britons actually attend church weekly.[393] Between the 2001 and 2011 census there was a decrease in the number of people who identified as Christian by 12%, whilst the percentage of those reporting no religious affiliation doubled. This contrasted with growth in the other main religious group categories, with the number of Muslims increasing by the most substantial margin to a total of about 5%.[1] The Muslim population has increased from 1.6 million in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2011,[394] making it the second-largest religious group in the United Kingdom.[395]

In a 2016 survey conducted by BSA (British Social Attitudes) on religious affiliation; 53% of respondents indicated 'no religion', while 41% indicated they were Christians, followed by 6% who affiliated with other religions (e.g. Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, etc.).[396] Among Christians, adherents to the Church of England constituted 15%, Roman Catholic Church – 9%, other Christians (including Presbyterians, Methodists, other Protestants, as well as Eastern Orthodox) – 17%.[396] 71% of young people aged 18–24 said they had no religion.[396]

The Church of England is the established church in England.[397] It retains a representation in the UK Parliament and the British monarch is its Supreme Governor.[398] In Scotland, the Church of Scotland is recognised as the national church. It is not subject to state control, and the British monarch is an ordinary member, required to swear an oath to "maintain and preserve the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government" upon his or her accession.[399][400] The Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920 and, as the Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1870 before the partition of Ireland, there is no established church in Northern Ireland.[401] Although there are no UK-wide data in the 2001 census on adherence to individual Christian denominations, it has been estimated that 62% of Christians are Anglican, 13.5% Catholic, 6% Presbyterian, 3.4% Methodist with small numbers of other Protestant denominations such as Open Brethren, and Orthodox churches.[402]


File:United Kingdom foreign born population by country of birth.png

The United Kingdom has experienced successive waves of migration. The Great Famine in Ireland, then part of the United Kingdom, resulted in perhaps a million people migrating to Great Britain.[403] Throughout the 19th century a small population of German immigrants built up, numbering 28,644 in England and Wales in 1861. London held around half of this population, and other small communities existed in Manchester, Bradford and elsewhere. The German immigrant community was the largest group until 1891, when it became second only to Russian Jews.[404] England has had small Jewish communities for many centuries, subject to occasional expulsions, but British Jews numbered fewer than 10,000 at the start of the 19th century. After 1881 Russian Jews suffered bitter persecutions, and, out of some 2,000,000 who left Russia by 1914, around 120,000 settled permanently in Britain, overtaking the Germans to be the largest ethnic minority from outside the British Isles.[405][406] The population increasing to 370,000 in 1938.[407][408][409] Unable to return to Poland at the end of World War II, over 120,000 Polish veterans remained in the UK permanently.[410] After World War II, there was significant immigration from the colonies and newly independent former colonies, partly as a legacy of empire and partly driven by labour shortages. Many of these migrants came from the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent.[411] In 1841, 0.25% of the population of England and Wales was born in a foreign country. In 1901, 1.5% of the population was foreign born.[412] By 1931, this figure had risen to 2.6%, and by 1951 it was 4.4%.[413]

In 2014 the net increase was 318,000: immigration was 641,000, up from 526,000 in 2013, while the number of people emigrating (for more than 12 months) was 323,000.[414] One of the more recent trends in migration has been the arrival of workers from the new EU member states in Eastern Europe, known as the A8 countries.[351] In 2010, there were 7.0 million foreign-born residents in the UK, corresponding to 11.3% of the total population. Of these, 4.76 million (7.7%) were born outside the EU and 2.24 million (3.6%) were born in another EU Member State.[415] The proportion of foreign-born people in the UK remains slightly below that of many other European countries.[416] However, immigration is now contributing to a rising population[417] with arrivals and UK-born children of migrants accounting for about half of the population increase between 1991 and 2001. Analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that a net total of 2.3 million migrants moved to the UK in the 15 years from 1991 to 2006.[418] In 2008 it was predicted that migration would add 7 million to the UK population by 2031,[419] though these figures are disputed.[420] The ONS reported that net migration rose from 2009 to 2010 by 21% to 239,000.[421]

In 2013, approximately 208,000 foreign citizens were naturalised as British citizens, the highest number since records began in 1962. This figure fell to around 125,800 in 2014. Between 2009 and 2013, the average number of people granted British citizenship per year was 195,800. The main countries of previous nationality of those naturalised in 2014 were India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Nepal, China, South Africa, Poland and Somalia.[422] The total number of grants of settlement, which confers permanent residence in the UK without granting British citizenship,[423] was approximately 154,700 in 2013, compared to 241,200 in 2010 and 129,800 in 2012.[422]

Over a quarter (27.0%) of live births in 2014 were to mothers born outside the UK, according to official statistics released in 2015.[424]

Year Foreign born population of England and Wales Total population
Irish born population Percentage of total population that was born abroad
1851 100,000 17,900,000 520,000 0.6
1861 150,000 20,100,000 600,000 0.7
1871 200,000 22,700,000 565,000 0.9
1881 275,000 26,000,000 560,000 1.1
1891 350,000 29,000,000 460,000 1.2
1901 475,000 32,500,000 425,000 1.5
1911 900,000 32,500,000 375,000 2.5
1921 750,000 37,900,000 365,000 2
1931 1,080,000 40,000,000 380,000 2.7
1951 1,875,000 43,700,000 470,000 4.3
1961 2,290,000 46,000,000 645,000 5.0
1971 3,100,000 48,700,000 585,000 6.4
1981 3,220,000 48,500,000 580,000 6.6
1991 3,625,000 49,900,000 570,000 7.3
2001 4,600,000 52,500,000 475,000 8.8
2011 7,500,000 56,000,000 400,000 13.4

Citizens of the European Union, including those of the UK, have the right to live and work in any EU member state.[430] The UK applied temporary restrictions to citizens of Romania and Bulgaria, which joined the EU in January 2007.[431] Research conducted by the Migration Policy Institute for the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggests that, between May 2004 and September 2009, 1.5 million workers migrated from the new EU member states to the UK, two-thirds of them Polish, but that many subsequently returned home, resulting in a net increase in the number of nationals of the new member states in the UK of some 700,000 over that period.[432][433] The late-2000s recession in the UK reduced the economic incentive for Poles to migrate to the UK,[434] the migration becoming temporary and circular.[435] In 2009, for the first time since enlargement, more nationals of the eight central and eastern European states that had joined the EU in 2004 left the UK than arrived.[436] In 2011, citizens of the new EU member states made up 13% of the immigrants entering the country.[437]

File:British expats countrymap.svg

The British Government has introduced a points-based immigration system for immigration from outside the European Economic Area to replace former schemes, including the Scottish Government's Fresh Talent Initiative.[438] In June 2010 the government introduced a temporary limit of 24,000 on immigration from outside the EU, aiming to discourage applications before a permanent cap was imposed in April 2011.[439]

Emigration was an important feature of British society in the 19th century. Between 1815 and 1930 around 11.4 million people emigrated from Britain and 7.3 million from Ireland. Estimates show that by the end of the 20th century some 300 million people of British and Irish descent were permanently settled around the globe.[440] Today, at least 5.5 million UK-born people live abroad,[441][442][443] mainly in Australia, Spain, the United States and Canada.[441][444]


Education in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter, with each country having a separate education system.

Considering the four systems together, about 38 percent of the United Kingdom population has a university or college degree, which is the highest percentage in Europe, and among the highest percentages in the world.[445][446] The United Kingdom trails only the United States in terms of representation on lists of top 100 universities.[447][448][449][450]

A government commission's report in 2014 found that privately educated people comprise 7% of the general population of the UK but much larger percentages of the top professions, the most extreme case quoted being 71% of senior judges.[451][452]


Main article: Education in England
File:Tom Quad, Christ Church 2004-01-21.jpg

Whilst education in England is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Education, the day-to-day administration and funding of state schools is the responsibility of local authorities.[453] Universally free of charge state education was introduced piecemeal between 1870 and 1944.[454][455] Education is now mandatory from ages five to sixteen, and in England youngsters must stay in education or training until they are 18.[456] In 2011, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) rated 13–14-year-old pupils in England and Wales 10th in the world for maths and 9th for science.[457] The majority of children are educated in state-sector schools, a small proportion of which select on the grounds of academic ability. Two of the top ten performing schools in terms of GCSE results in 2006 were state-run grammar schools. In 2010, over half of places at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge were taken by students from state schools,[458] while the proportion of children in England attending private schools is around 7% which rises to 18% of those over 16.[459][460] England has the two oldest universities in English-speaking world, Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (jointly known as "Oxbridge") with history of over eight centuries.



Main article: Education in Scotland

Education in Scotland is the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, with day-to-day administration and funding of state schools the responsibility of Local Authorities. Two non-departmental public bodies have key roles in Scottish education. The Scottish Qualifications Authority is responsible for the development, accreditation, assessment and certification of qualifications other than degrees which are delivered at secondary schools, post-secondary colleges of further education and other centres.[461] Learning and Teaching Scotland provides advice, resources and staff development to education professionals.[462] Scotland first legislated for compulsory education in 1496.[463] The proportion of children in Scotland attending private schools is just over 4% in 2016, but it has been falling slowly in recent years.[464] Scottish students who attend Scottish universities pay neither tuition fees nor graduate endowment charges, as fees were abolished in 2001 and the graduate endowment scheme was abolished in 2008.[465]


Main article: Education in Wales

The Welsh Government has responsibility for education in Wales. A significant number of Welsh students are taught either wholly or largely in the Welsh language; lessons in Welsh are compulsory for all until the age of 16.[466] There are plans to increase the provision of Welsh-medium schools as part of the policy of creating a fully bilingual Wales.

Northern Ireland

Education in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Minister of Education, although responsibility at a local level is administered by the Education Authority which is further sub-divided into five geographical areas. The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) is the body responsible for advising the government on what should be taught in Northern Ireland's schools, monitoring standards and awarding qualifications.[467]


File:15th Sep 2012-Abdn Children's Hosp & Emergency Care Centre 10.JPG

Healthcare in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter and each country has its own system of private and publicly funded health care, together with alternative, holistic and complementary treatments. Public healthcare is provided to all UK permanent residents and is mostly free at the point of need, being paid for from general taxation. The World Health Organization, in 2000, ranked the provision of healthcare in the United Kingdom as fifteenth best in Europe and eighteenth in the world.[468][469] Since 1979 expenditure on healthcare has been increased significantly to bring it closer to the European Union average.[470] The UK spends around 8.4% of its gross domestic product on healthcare, which is 0.5 percentage points below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average and about one percentage point below the average of the European Union.[471]

Regulatory bodies are organised on a UK-wide basis such as the General Medical Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and non-governmental-based, such as the Royal Colleges. However, political and operational responsibility for healthcare lies with four national executives; healthcare in England is the responsibility of the UK Government; healthcare in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Executive; healthcare in Scotland is the responsibility of the Scottish Government; and healthcare in Wales is the responsibility of the Welsh Government. Each National Health Service has different policies and priorities, resulting in contrasts.[472][473]


The culture of the United Kingdom has been influenced by many factors including: the nation's island status; its history as a western liberal democracy and a major power; as well as being a political union of four countries with each preserving elements of distinctive traditions, customs and symbolism. As a result of the British Empire, British influence can be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former colonies including Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and the United States. The substantial cultural influence of the United Kingdom has led it to be described as a "cultural superpower".[105][106]


Main article: British literature
File:William Shakespeare Chandos Portrait.jpg

'British literature' refers to literature associated with the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Most British literature is in the English language. In 2005, some 206,000 books were published in the United Kingdom and in 2006 it was the largest publisher of books in the world.[474]

The English playwright and poet William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest dramatist of all time,[475][476][477] and his contemporaries Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson have also been held in continuous high esteem. More recently the playwrights Alan Ayckbourn, Harold Pinter, Michael Frayn, Tom Stoppard and David Edgar have combined elements of surrealism, realism and radicalism.

Notable pre-modern and early-modern English writers include Geoffrey Chaucer (14th century), Thomas Malory (15th century), Sir Thomas More (16th century), John Bunyan (17th century) and John Milton (17th century). In the 18th century Daniel Defoe (author of Robinson Crusoe) and Samuel Richardson were pioneers of the modern novel. In the 19th century there followed further innovation by Jane Austen, the gothic novelist Mary Shelley, the children's writer Lewis Carroll, the Brontë sisters, the social campaigner Charles Dickens, the naturalist Thomas Hardy, the realist George Eliot, the visionary poet William Blake and romantic poet William Wordsworth. 20th century English writers include the science-fiction novelist H. G. Wells; the writers of children's classics Rudyard Kipling, A. A. Milne (the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh), Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton; the controversial D. H. Lawrence; the modernist Virginia Woolf; the satirist Evelyn Waugh; the prophetic novelist George Orwell; the popular novelists W. Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene; the crime writer Agatha Christie (the best-selling novelist of all time);[478] Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond); the poets T.S. Eliot, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes; the fantasy writers J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling; the graphic novelists Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman.

File:Dickens by Watkins 1858.png

Scotland's contributions include the detective writer Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes), romantic literature by Sir Walter Scott, the children's writer J. M. Barrie, the epic adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson and the celebrated poet Robert Burns. More recently the modernist and nationalist Hugh MacDiarmid and Neil M. Gunn contributed to the Scottish Renaissance. A more grim outlook is found in Ian Rankin's stories and the psychological horror-comedy of Iain Banks. Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, was UNESCO's first worldwide City of Literature.[479]

Britain's oldest known poem, Y Gododdin, was composed in Yr Hen Ogledd (The Old North), most likely in the late 6th century. It was written in Cumbric or Old Welsh and contains the earliest known reference to King Arthur.[480] From around the seventh century, the connection between Wales and the Old North was lost, and the focus of Welsh-language culture shifted to Wales, where Arthurian legend was further developed by Geoffrey of Monmouth.[481] Wales's most celebrated medieval poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym (fl.1320–1370), composed poetry on themes including nature, religion and especially love. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest European poets of his age.[482] Until the late 19th century the majority of Welsh literature was in Welsh and much of the prose was religious in character. Daniel Owen is credited as the first Welsh-language novelist, publishing Rhys Lewis in 1885. The best-known of the Anglo-Welsh poets are both Thomases. Dylan Thomas became famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the mid-20th century. He is remembered for his poetry—his "Do not go gentle into that good night; Rage, rage against the dying of the light" is one of the most quoted couplets of English language verse—and for his "play for voices", Under Milk Wood. The influential Church in Wales "poet-priest" and Welsh nationalist R. S. Thomas was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. Leading Welsh novelists of the twentieth century include Richard Llewellyn and Kate Roberts.[483][484]

Authors of other nationalities, particularly from Commonwealth countries, the Republic of Ireland and the United States, have lived and worked in the UK. Significant examples through the centuries include Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, George Bernard Shaw, Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and more recently British authors born abroad such as Kazuo Ishiguro and Sir Salman Rushdie.[485][486]


File:The Fabs.JPG

Various styles of music are popular in the UK from the indigenous folk music of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to heavy metal. Notable composers of classical music from the United Kingdom and the countries that preceded it include William Byrd, Henry Purcell, Sir Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, Sir Arthur Sullivan (most famous for working with the librettist Sir W. S. Gilbert), Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, pioneer of modern British opera. Sir Harrison Birtwistle is one of the foremost living composers. The UK is also home to world-renowned symphonic orchestras and choruses such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Chorus. Notable conductors include Sir Simon Rattle, Sir John Barbirolli and Sir Malcolm Sargent. Some of the notable film score composers include John Barry, Clint Mansell, Mike Oldfield, John Powell, Craig Armstrong, David Arnold, John Murphy, Monty Norman and Harry Gregson-Williams. George Frideric Handel became a naturalised British citizen and wrote the British coronation anthem, while some of his best works, such as Messiah, were written in the English language.[490][491] Andrew Lloyd Webber is a prolific composer of musical theatre. His works have dominated London's West End since the late 20th century and have also been a commercial success worldwide.[492]

The Beatles have international sales of over one billion units and are the biggest-selling and most influential band in the history of popular music.[487][488][489][493] Other prominent British contributors to have influenced popular music over the last 50 years include The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Queen, Led Zeppelin, the Bee Gees, and Elton John, all of whom have worldwide record sales of 200 million or more.[494][495][496][497][498][499] The Brit Awards are the BPI's annual music awards, and some of the British recipients of the Outstanding Contribution to Music award include; The Who, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and The Police.[500] More recent UK music acts that have had international success include Coldplay, Radiohead, Oasis, Spice Girls, Robbie Williams, Amy Winehouse and Adele.[501]

A number of UK cities are known for their music. Acts from Liverpool have had 54 UK chart number one hit singles, more per capita than any other city worldwide.[502] Glasgow's contribution to music was recognised in 2008 when it was named a UNESCO City of Music, one of only three cities in the world to have this honour.[503]

Visual artEdit

File:Turner selfportrait.jpg

The history of British visual art forms part of western art history. Major British artists include: the Romantics William Blake, John Constable, Samuel Palmer and J.M.W. Turner; the portrait painters Sir Joshua Reynolds and Lucian Freud; the landscape artists Thomas Gainsborough and L. S. Lowry; the pioneer of the Arts and Crafts Movement William Morris; the figurative painter Francis Bacon; the Pop artists Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton and David Hockney; the collaborative duo Gilbert and George; the abstract artist Howard Hodgkin; and the sculptors Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Henry Moore. During the late 1980s and 1990s the Saatchi Gallery in London helped to bring to public attention a group of multi-genre artists who would become known as the "Young British Artists": Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, Rachel Whiteread, Tracey Emin, Mark Wallinger, Steve McQueen, Sam Taylor-Wood and the Chapman Brothers are among the better-known members of this loosely affiliated movement.

The Royal Academy in London is a key organisation for the promotion of the visual arts in the United Kingdom. Major schools of art in the UK include: the six-school University of the Arts London, which includes the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and Chelsea College of Art and Design; Goldsmiths, University of London; the Slade School of Fine Art (part of University College London); the Glasgow School of Art; the Royal College of Art; and The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art (part of the University of Oxford). The Courtauld Institute of Art is a leading centre for the teaching of the history of art. Important art galleries in the United Kingdom include the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern (the most-visited modern art gallery in the world, with around 4.7 million visitors per year).[504]


File:Hitchcock, Alfred 02.jpg

The United Kingdom has had a considerable influence on the history of the cinema. The British directors Alfred Hitchcock, whose film Vertigo is considered by some critics as the best film of all time,[506] and David Lean are among the most critically acclaimed of all-time.[507] Other important directors including Charlie Chaplin,[508] Michael Powell,[509] Carol Reed,[510] Edgar Wright,[511] Christopher Nolan,[512] and Ridley Scott.[513] Many British actors have achieved international fame and critical success, including: Julie Andrews,[514] Richard Burton,[515] Michael Caine,[516] Colin Firth,[517] Gary Oldman,[518] Ben Kingsley,[519] Ian McKellen,[520] Liam Neeson,[521] Charlie Chaplin,[522] Sean Connery,[523] Vivien Leigh,[524] David Niven,[525] Laurence Olivier,[526] Peter Sellers,[527] Kate Winslet,[528] Anthony Hopkins,[529] and Daniel Day-Lewis.[530] Some of the most commercially successful films of all time have been produced in the United Kingdom, including two of the highest-grossing film franchises (Harry Potter and James Bond).[531] Ealing Studios has a claim to being the oldest continuously working film studio in the world.[532]

Despite a history of important and successful productions, the industry has often been characterised by a debate about its identity and the level of American and European influence. British producers are active in international co-productions and British actors, directors and crew feature regularly in American films. Many successful Hollywood films have been based on British people, stories or events, including Titanic, The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean.

In 2009, British films grossed around $2 billion worldwide and achieved a market share of around 7% globally and 17% in the United Kingdom.[533] UK box-office takings totalled £944 million in 2009, with around 173 million admissions.[533] The British Film Institute has produced a poll ranking of what it considers to be the 100 greatest British films of all time, the BFI Top 100 British films.[534] The annual British Academy Film Awards are hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.[535]


File:Bbc broadcasting house front.jpg

The BBC, founded in 1922, is the UK's publicly funded radio, television and Internet broadcasting corporation, and is the oldest and largest broadcaster in the world.[536][537][538] It operates numerous television and radio stations in the UK and abroad and its domestic services are funded by the television licence.[539][540] Other major players in the UK media include ITV plc, which operates 11 of the 15 regional television broadcasters that make up the ITV Network,[541] and News Corporation, which owns a number of national newspapers through News International such as the most popular tabloid The Sun and the longest-established daily "broadsheet" The Times,[542] as well as holding a large stake in satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting.[543] London dominates the media sector in the UK: national newspapers and television and radio are largely based there, although Manchester is also a significant national media centre. Edinburgh and Glasgow, and Cardiff, are important centres of newspaper and broadcasting production in Scotland and Wales respectively.[544] The UK publishing sector, including books, directories and databases, journals, magazines and business media, newspapers and news agencies, has a combined turnover of around £20 billion and employs around 167,000 people.[545]

In 2009, it was estimated that individuals viewed a mean of 3.75 hours of television per day and 2.81 hours of radio. In that year the main BBC public service broadcasting channels accounted for an estimated 28.4% of all television viewing; the three main independent channels accounted for 29.5% and the increasingly important other satellite and digital channels for the remaining 42.1%.[546] Sales of newspapers have fallen since the 1970s and in 2010 41% of people reported reading a daily national newspaper.[547] In 2010, 82.5% of the UK population were Internet users, the highest proportion amongst the 20 countries with the largest total number of users in that year.[548]


Main article: British philosophy

The United Kingdom is famous for the tradition of 'British Empiricism', a branch of the philosophy of knowledge that states that only knowledge verified by experience is valid, and 'Scottish Philosophy', sometimes referred to as the 'Scottish School of Common Sense'.[549] The most famous philosophers of British Empiricism are John Locke, George Berkeley[note 13] and David Hume; while Dugald Stewart, Thomas Reid and William Hamilton were major exponents of the Scottish "common sense" school. Two Britons are also notable for a theory of moral philosophy utilitarianism, first used by Jeremy Bentham and later by John Stuart Mill in his short work Utilitarianism.[550][551] Other eminent philosophers from the UK and the states and countries that preceded it include Duns Scotus, John Lilburne, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sir Francis Bacon, Adam Smith, Thomas Hobbes, William of Ockham, Bertrand Russell and A.J. "Freddie" Ayer. Foreign-born philosophers who settled in the UK include Isaiah Berlin, Karl Marx, Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein.


File:Wembley-STadion 2013.JPG

Major sports, including association football, tennis, rugby union, rugby league, golf, boxing, netball, rowing and cricket, originated or were substantially developed in the UK and the states that preceded it. With the rules and codes of many modern sports invented and codified in late 19th century Victorian Britain, in 2012, the President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge, stated; "This great, sports-loving country is widely recognized as the birthplace of modern sport. It was here that the concepts of sportsmanship and fair play were first codified into clear rules and regulations. It was here that sport was included as an educational tool in the school curriculum".[553][554]

In most international competitions, separate teams represent England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland usually field a single team representing all of Ireland, with notable exceptions being association football and the Commonwealth Games. In sporting contexts, the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish / Northern Irish teams are often referred to collectively as the Home Nations. There are some sports in which a single team represents the whole of United Kingdom, including the Olympics, where the UK is represented by the Great Britain team. The 1908, 1948 and 2012 Summer Olympics were held in London, making it the first city to host the games three times. Britain has participated in every modern Olympic Games to date and is third in the medal count.

A 2003 poll found that football is the most popular sport in the United Kingdom.[555] England is recognised by FIFA as the birthplace of club football, and The Football Association is the oldest of its kind, with the rules of football first drafted in 1863 by Ebenezer Cobb Morley.[556][557] Each of the Home Nations has its own football association, national team and league system. The English top division, the Premier League, is the most watched football league in the world.[558] The first-ever international football match was contested by England and Scotland on 30 November 1872.[559] England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland compete as separate countries in international competitions.[560] A Great Britain Olympic football team was assembled for the first time to compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games. However, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations declined to participate, fearing that it would undermine their independent status—a fear confirmed by FIFA.[561]

File:Inside the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.jpg

In 2003, rugby union was ranked the second most popular sport in the UK.[555] The sport was created in Rugby School, Warwickshire, and the first rugby international took place on 27 March 1871 between England and Scotland.[562][563] England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy compete in the Six Nations Championship; the premier international tournament in the northern hemisphere. Sport governing bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland organise and regulate the game separately.[564] If any of the British teams or the Irish team beat the other three in a tournament, then it is awarded the Triple Crown.[565]

Cricket was invented in England, and its laws were established by Marylebone Cricket Club in 1788.[566] The England cricket team, controlled by the England and Wales Cricket Board,[567] and the Irish cricket team, controlled by the Cricket Ireland are only national teams in the UK with Test status. Team members are drawn from the main county sides, and include both English and Welsh players. Cricket is distinct from football and rugby where Wales and England field separate national teams, although Wales had fielded its own team in the past. Irish and Scottish players have played for England because neither Scotland nor Ireland have Test status and have only recently started to play in One Day Internationals and Ireland is yet to play their first test match.[568][569] Scotland, England (and Wales), and Ireland (including Northern Ireland) have competed at the Cricket World Cup, with England reaching the finals on three occasions. There is a professional league championship in which clubs representing 17 English counties and 1 Welsh county compete.[570]

File:Saville vs Broady – Wimbledon Boys Singles Final 2011.jpg

The modern game of tennis originated in Birmingham, England, in the 1860s, before spreading around the world.[571] The world's oldest tennis tournament, the Wimbledon championships, first occurred in 1877, and today the event takes place over two weeks in late June and early July. [572]

Thoroughbred racing, which originated under Charles II of England as the "sport of kings", is popular throughout the UK with world-famous races including the Grand National, the Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival (including the Cheltenham Gold Cup). The UK has proved successful in the international sporting arena in rowing.

The UK is closely associated with motorsport. Many teams and drivers in Formula One (F1) are based in the UK, and the country has won more drivers' and constructors' titles than any other. The UK hosted the first F1 Grand Prix in 1950 at Silverstone, the current location of the British Grand Prix held each year in July.[573] The UK hosts legs of the Grand Prix motorcycle racing, World Rally Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship. The premier national auto racing event is the British Touring Car Championship. Motorcycle road racing has a long tradition with races such as the Isle of Man TT and the North West 200.

File:R&A Clubhouse, Old Course, Swilcan Burn bridge.jpg

Golf is the sixth most popular sport, by participation, in the UK. Although The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in Scotland is the sport's home course,[575] the world's oldest golf course is actually Musselburgh Links' Old Golf Course.[576] In 1764, the standard 18-hole golf course was created at St Andrews when members modified the course from 22 to 18 holes.[574] The oldest golf tournament in the world, and the first major championship in golf, The Open Championship, is played annually on the weekend of the third Friday in July.[577]

Rugby league originated in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in 1895 and is generally played in Northern England.[578] A single 'Great Britain Lions' team had competed in the Rugby League World Cup and Test match games, but this changed in 2008 when England, Scotland and Ireland competed as separate nations.[579] Great Britain is still retained as the full national team. Super League is the highest level of professional rugby league in the UK and Europe. It consists of 11 teams from Northern England, 1 from London, 1 from Wales and 1 from France.[580]

The 'Queensberry rules', the code of general rules in boxing, was named after John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry in 1867, that formed the basis of modern boxing.[581] Snooker is another of the UK's popular sporting exports, with the world championships held annually in Sheffield.[582] In Northern Ireland Gaelic football and hurling are popular team sports, both in terms of participation and spectating, and Irish expatriates in the UK and the US also play them.[583] Shinty (or camanachd) is popular in the Scottish Highlands.[584] Highland games are held in spring and summer in Scotland, celebrating Scottish and celtic culture and heritage, especially that of the Scottish Highlands.[585]



The flag of the United Kingdom is the Union Flag (also referred to as the Union Jack). It was created in 1606 by the superimposition of the Flag of England on the Flag of Scotland and updated in 1801 with the addition of Saint Patrick's Flag. Wales is not represented in the Union Flag, as Wales had been conquered and annexed to England prior to the formation of the United Kingdom. The possibility of redesigning the Union Flag to include representation of Wales has not been completely ruled out.[586] The national anthem of the United Kingdom is "God Save the Queen", with "Queen" replaced with "King" in the lyrics whenever the monarch is a man.

Britannia is a national personification of the United Kingdom, originating from Roman Britain.[587] Britannia is symbolised as a young woman with brown or golden hair, wearing a Corinthian helmet and white robes. She holds Poseidon's three-pronged trident and a shield, bearing the Union Flag. Sometimes she is depicted as riding on the back of a lion. Since the height of the British Empire in the late 19th century, Britannia has often been associated with British maritime dominance, as in the patriotic song "Rule, Britannia!". Up until 2008, the lion symbol was depicted behind Britannia on the British fifty pence coin and on the back of the British ten pence coin. It is also used as a symbol on the non-ceremonial flag of the British Army.

A second, less used, personification of the nation is the character John Bull. The bulldog is sometimes used as a symbol of the United Kingdom and has been associated with Winston Churchill's defiance of Nazi Germany.[588]

International rankingsEdit

The following are international rankings of the United Kingdom, including those measuring life quality, health care quality, stability, press freedom and income.

Index Rank Countries reviewed
Human Development Index 2015 14187
Inequality adjusted Human Development Index 2015 13150
OECD Better Life Index 2016 1638
Legatum Prosperity Index 2015[589] 10142
Index of Public Integrity 2016[590] 6105
Democracy Index 2016[591] 16167
Freedom House ranking of political rights 2016[592] 8195
Freedom House ranking of civil liberties 2016[592] 195
Save the Children State of the World's Mothers report 2015[593] 24179
Total health expenditure per capita 2015 17188
Fragile States Index (Reverse ranking) 2016[590] 17178
Gallup gross median household income 2013 19131
Median equivalent adult income 2009–2014 1935
International Property Rights Index 2015 13129
Euro health consumer index 2015[594] 14 (England) 16 (Scotland)35
Press Freedom Index 2016 38180
Global Gender Gap Report 2015 20144
World Happiness Report 2017[595] 19 Increase 4157
Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 10175
Networked Readiness Index 2014[596] 9144
Household final consumption expenditure per capita 2016[597] 6
Ease of doing business index 2017 7185
Global Peace Index 2016 47163
Globalization Index 2015 207
Logistics Performance Index 2014[592] 4160
Index of Economic Freedom 2016 10167
Merchant Navy 1039


See alsoEdit

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  1. This excludes some of the UK's dependencies. See Time in the United Kingdom#British territories
  2. Under the Council of Europe's European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Scots, Ulster Scots, Welsh, Cornish, Scottish Gaelic and Irish are officially recognised as regional or minority languages by the British Government for the purposes of the Charter.[3] See also Languages of the United Kingdom.
  3. An alternative variant of the Royal coat of arms is used in Scotland: [[:File:Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (Scotland).png[click to view image]]].
  4. Although Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state, two of its Overseas Territories also share land borders with other sovereign countries. Gibraltar shares a border with Spain, while the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia share borders with the Republic of Cyprus, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the UN buffer zone separating the two Cypriot polities.
  5. In the referendum of 23 June 2016, a majority voted for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union, but the process and date for Brexit have yet to be determined.
  6. The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed on 6 December 1921 to resolve the Irish War of Independence. When it took effect one year later, it established the Irish Free State as a separate dominion within the Commonwealth. The UK's current name was adopted to reflect the change.
  7. Compare to section 1 of both of the 1800 Acts of Union which reads: the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland united into one Kingdom, by the Name of "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland"
  8. Since the early twentieth century the prime minister has held the office of First Lord of the Treasury, and in recent decades has also held the office of Minister for the Civil Service.
  9. Sinn Féin, an Irish republican party, also contests elections in the Republic of Ireland.
  10. In 2007–2008, this was calculated to be £115 per week for single adults with no dependent children; £199 per week for couples with no dependent children; £195 per week for single adults with two dependent children under 14; and £279 per week for couples with two dependent children under 14.
  11. The 2011 Census recorded Gypsies/Travellers as a separate ethnic group for the first time.
  12. In the 2011 Census, for the purpose of harmonising results to make them comparable across the UK, the ONS includes individuals in Scotland who classified themselves in the "African" category (29,638 people), which in the Scottish version of the census is separate from "Caribbean or Black" (6,540 people),[365] in this "Black or Black British" category. The ONS note that "the African categories used in Scotland could potentially capture White/Asian/Other African in addition to Black identities".[366]
  13. Berkeley is in fact Irish but was called a 'British empiricist' due to the territory of what is now known as the Republic of Ireland being in the UK at the time


  1. 1.0 1.1 Philby, Charlotte (12 December 2012). "Less religious and more ethnically diverse: Census reveals a picture of Britain today". The Independent (London). 
  2. (PDF) Demographic Yearbook – Table 3: Population by sex, rate of population increase, surface area and density. United Nations Statistics Division. 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "List of declarations made with respect to treaty No. 148". Council of Europe. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  4. "Definition of Great Britain in English". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 October 2014. "Great Britain is the name for the island that comprises England, Scotland and Wales, although the term is also used loosely to refer to the United Kingdom." 
  5. "UK Perspectives 2016: The UK in a European context". Office for National Statistics. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016. 
  6. The British Monarchy, What is constitutional monarchy?. Retrieved 17 July 2013
  7. CIA, The World Factbook. Retrieved 17 July 2013
  8. The 30 Largest Urban Agglomerations Ranked by Population Size at Each Point in Time, 1950-2030, World Urbanization Prospects, the 2014 revision, Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Countries within a country". Prime Minister's Office. 10 January 2003. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  10. "Devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland". United Kingdom Government. Retrieved 17 April 2013. "In a similar way to how the government is formed from members from the two Houses of Parliament, members of the devolved legislatures nominate ministers from among themselves to comprise executives, known as the devolved administrations..." 
  11. "Fall in UK university students". BBC News. 29 January 2009. 
  12. "Country Overviews: United Kingdom". Transport Research Knowledge Centre. Archived from the original on 4 April 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  13. "Key facts about the United Kingdom". Directgov. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2015. "
    The full title of this country is 'the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'. Great Britain is made up of England, Scotland and Wales. The United Kingdom (UK) is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 'Britain' is used informally, usually meaning the United Kingdom.
    The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of the UK.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 "Supporting the Overseas Territories". Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  15. "Britain crashes out of world's top 5 economies". CNN. .
  16. Mathias, P. (2001). The First Industrial Nation: the Economic History of Britain, 1700–1914. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26672-6. 
  17. Ferguson, Niall (2004). Empire: The rise and demise of the British world order and the lessons for global power. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-02328-2. 
  18. T. V. Paul; James J. Wirtz; Michel Fortmann (2005). "Great+power" Balance of Power. State University of New York Press, 2005. pp. 59, 282. ISBN 0791464016."Great+power".  Accordingly, the great powers after the Cold War are Britain, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States p.59
  19. McCourt, David (28 May 2014). Britain and World Power Since 1945: Constructing a Nation's Role in International Politics. United States of America: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472072218. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2016" (PDF). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  21. "Treaty of Union, 1706". Scots History Online. Retrieved 23 August 2011. 
  22. Barnett, Hilaire; Jago, Robert (2011). Constitutional & Administrative Law (8th ed.). Abingdon: Routledge. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-415-56301-7. 
  23. See Article One of the Act of Union 1707.
  24. "After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", The American Pageant, Volume 1, Cengage Learning (2012)
  25. "From 1707 until 1801 Great Britain was the official designation of the kingdoms of England and Scotland". The Standard Reference Work: For the Home, School and Library, Volume 3, Harold Melvin Stanford (1921)
  26. "In 1707, on the union with Scotland, 'Great Britain' became the official name of the British Kingdom, and so continued until the union with Ireland in 1801". United States Congressional serial set, Issue 10; Issue 3265 (1895)
  27. Gascoigne, Bamber. "History of Great Britain (from 1707)". History World. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  28. Cottrell, P. (2008). The Irish Civil War 1922–23. p. 85. ISBN 1-84603-270-9. 
  29. S. Dunn; H. Dawson (2000), An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, "One specific problem—in both general and particular senses—is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state—although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change." 
  30. "Changes in the list of subdivision names and code elements". ISO 3166-2. International Organization for Standardization. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  31. Population Trends, Issues 75–82, p.38, 1994, UK Office of Population Censuses and Surveys
  32. Life in the United Kingdom: a journey to citizenship, p. 7, United Kingdom Home Office, 2007, ISBN 978-0-11-341313-3Script error.
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  • Hitchens, Peter (2000). The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana. Second ed. San Francisco, Calif.: Encounter Books. xi, 332 pp. {{Node-count limit exceeded|1-893554-18-X}}.
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