- Country name : United Kingdom
- Official name : United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- System of government : Constitutional monarchy.
- National anthem :
- Area : 244 820 km².
- Capital : London.
- Border countries : The United Kingdom groups all together the island of Great Britain (England, Wales & Scotland) and the north of the Ireland island. It has one border with the Ireland Republic, and for the rest is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.
- Population : 59,7 millions (2002).
- Language(s) : English (official), Welch & Scottish Gaelic.
- Religions : Anglican (47%), Roman Catholic (9%), Presbyterian (4%), Muslim (3%), Methodist (1%), others (36%).
>World leader in the 19th century, the British economy is still very powerful, in the image of its capital, London, the first financial place in Europe.
>In the meanwhile, Great Britain has faced an important crisis in its manufacturing sector, balanced with the growth of the industry of services. Banking and other industrial services represent now about the two third of the GDP and the workforce of the country.
>The government plays an important role in the economy. It's a major employer and has a central role in some sectors like health, part of the welfare system.
>The British economy has changed a lot since the mid-1970s : it was boosted by the discovery of oil reserves in the North Sea. The country is now self-sufficient in petroleum. Inflation and balance of trade have also been improved.
>The agriculture is highly intensive and productive. Thanks to innovations in mechanization and biological engineering, the country is now less dependent than in the past.
>The United Kingdom is a member of the European Union, but is not part of the Euro zone.
>The famous Stonehenge stones circles and other dolmens are evidences about the degree of development of the prehistoric Britons, although very few is known about them.
>Until the 10th century, the history of the country is a succession of invasions, due to Romans, and then to hordes of Angles, Saxons and Jutes. In 1066, the Duke of Normandy, William, defeated the Saxon king at the Battle of Hastings and introduced the Norman French law and its political and military feudalism.
>The English civil war in 1642 and the Revolution in 1688 set the primacy of the Parliament over the Royal prerogatives.
>In 1707, the Act of Union created the Great Britain, an union between England and Scotland.
>In the 18th and 19th centuries, the British Empire grew all over the globe, to become, under the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), the first power in the world. Under the Victorian area, the political system was reformed (Reform Bill - 1932) to become a democratic system.
>During World War I, Great Britain lost several hundred thousands men in Belgium and France, fighting against Germany.
>In 1921, the United Kingdom agreed the constitution of the Republic of Ireland, except for the North of the island, that remained part of UK.
>In 1939, despite the efforts of Prime Minister Chamberlain to avoid the war against Germany, the UK declared war two days after the Poland invasion. Great Britain paid an heavy tribute to World War II, suffering the "Blitz", the massive destructions due to bombing raids, and the fights in France and Germany, from the D-Day (June 6, 1944) to the end of the war (May 8, 1945).
>In 1945, Prime Minister Atlee (Labour) started the welfare state, a light socialist programme.
>After World War II, UK played a major part in the international scene, being a permanent member of the UN Security Council (1945) and a founder member of NATO (1949).
>In 1947, India became independent. During the next years nearly all British colonies won their freedom and remained linked to UK thanks to the Commonwealth.
>By the end of the 60's clashes started between Protestants and Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland.
>In the 70's, UK became an EEC member (1973), faced and economic crisis with strong conflicts against trade unions, and discovered oil in the North Sea.
>The 80's were marked by the Margaret Thatcher's era (Conservative), her strong policy against unions, her privatisation programme and the Falklands War after the Argentine invasion of the islands in 1982.
>Since 1997, Tony Blair (Labour) is the Prime Minister. He has produced constitutional changes, as the creation of two separate assemblies for Scotland and Wales and the Good Friday Agreement -1998- starting a peace process in Northern Ireland. In foreign policy, UK forces played an important role in the Kosovo and the Sierra Leone crisis. After september 2001, Tony Blair became the strongest US ally supporting Bush decisions about Afghanistan and Iraq.