United Kingdom country profile28 August 2006
by eub2 -- last modified 14 August 2012
The United Kingdom consists of England, Wales, Scotland (who together make up Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. Great Britain entered the European Community in 1973, but London has opted out of EMU and the European single currency.
The United Kingdom consists of England, Wales, Scotland (who together make up Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. The highest mountain is Ben Nevis in Scotland which reaches a height of 1 343m.
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The main chamber of parliament is the lower house, the House of Commons, which has 646 members elected by universal suffrage. About 700 people are eligible to sit in the upper house, the House of Lords, including life peers, hereditary peers, and bishops. There is a Scottish parliament in Edinburgh with wide-ranging local powers, and a Welsh Assembly in Cardiff with more limited authority for Welsh affairs.
The English account for more than 80% of the population. The Scots make up nearly 10% and the Welsh and Irish most of the rest. The UK is also home to diverse immigrant communities, mainly from its former colonies in the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Africa.
The economy - one of the largest in the EU - is increasingly services-based although it maintains industrial capacity in high-tech and other sectors. The City of London is a world centre for financial services.
Home to the industrial revolution, the United Kingdom has produced many great scientists and engineers including Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. The father of modern economics, Adam Smith, was a Scot. English literature has produced an endless stream of poets, dramatists, essayists and novelists from Geoffrey Chaucer via Shakespeare and his contemporaries to a plethora of modern writers.
Official name: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Area (km2): 244 820
Population: 63.05 million (estimate for July 2012)
Currency: Pound Sterling
Date of joining: 01 January 1973
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II
Head of government: Prime Minister David Cameron; since May 2010
GDP (millions €): 1.6 million (2008); 1.7 million (forecast for 2009)
GDP per capita in PPS: € 29 500 (2008); € 28 200 (forecast for 2009)
Real growth rate of GDP: 0.7% (2011 est.)
Unemployment rate: 8.1% (2011 est.)
National debt as % of GDP: 79.5% (2011 est.)
Inflation: 4.5% (2011 est.)
Public deficit/surplus as % of GDP: -8.3% (2011 est.)
Map of the United Kingdom
Source: European Commission, Spanish EU Presidency, World Factbook