History: the United Kingdom (UK) constitutes the greater part of the British Isles. Great Britain is the largest of the islands forming the United Kingdom. It comprises England, Scotland, and Wales. The next largest is Ireland, comprising Northern Ireland, which s part of the UK, and the Irish Republic. Western Scotland is fringed by the large island chains known the inner and outer Hebrides, and to the north of the Scottish mainland are the Orkney and Shetland islands. All these, along with the Isle of Wight, Anglesey and the Isles of Sicily, have administrative ties with the Mainland, but the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea and the Channel Island between Great Britain and France are largely self-governing, and are not part of the UK. The UK is one of the 25 member states of the European Union (UN).
The United Kingdom’s system of government is known as constitutional monarchy, though its constitution is not contained in any one document; instead it has evolved over many years. Ministers of the Crown govern in the name of the Sovereign, who is both head of state and head of the government. Actual power is vested in parliament which is the supreme legislative body in Great Britain. The parliament consist of two houses-the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
Economy: Britain s one of the world’s leading industrial and exporting countries. Chief industries are iron and steel, engineering, chemicals, electronic,motor vehicles, metals, machinery, ship building, aircraft, textiles, cloth, other consumer goods and banking. Metals and metal using industries contribute more than 50% of the exports. Britian’s coal mines yield about 128 milion tons annually. Although Britain’s agriculture and trawler-fishing are highly mechanized, half of the country’s food supplies and most of its raw materials are imported. Chief crops: Grains, sugar, fruits, vegetables.
Severn and Thames are the largest rivers. The most famous church is Westminster Abbey. The most celebrated universities are Oxford and Cambridge. There are about 40 other universities.
England: Population: 49m. a large overseas empire was established. United with wales (1536), with Scotland (1707) and with Ireland (1801; partition in 1921) to form United Kingdom.
Wales: The principality of Wales in Western Britain has a population of 2,899,000. Cardiff is the capital. English and Welsh are spoken.
Scotland: Scotland occupies the northern 37% of the main British island, and the Herbrides, Orkney, Shetland, and smaller islands. Population: 5,111,000. Edinburgh is the capital.
Northern Ireland is situated in the northeast of Ireland and forms part of the United kingdom. It comprises six Ulster counties of antrim, Down, Armagh, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. The rest of the island forms the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland has been rocked by bloody agitation for union with Catholic Irish Republic. 1985 saw an Anglo-Irish agreement which for the first time gave Dublin a say in the running of the province. Population: 1,610,000 and Capital: Belfast.
Agriculture is the main occupation in Northern Ireland. Cattle, sheep, hogs, eggs, poultry, potatoes and milk are the important products. Linen, ropes, twines, rayon, clothing, tobacco, aircraft and shipping form the main branches of industry.
Recent Events: Prince Charles, 56, and Camilla parker-Bowles, 57, got married. Labour party secured a third historic term, but majority was drastically reduced amidst public anger over Iraq war. London won the bid to host 2012 Olympics. The G8 summit was held in Glenceagles in Scotland in July. London was rocked by a series of explonsions on its transport network during the morning rush hour on July 7th, killing more than 40 people and induring several hundreds. AI Qaeda suspected to be behind the explosions. An innocent 27-year-old Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes, was shot by police on the mistaken assumption that he was about to explode a bomb. The Irish Republican Army made a formal declaration that it was ending its armed campaign to pursue peaceful polities, ending more than 30 years of vloence. Robin cook, the former Foreign Secretary, died in August.