The United Kingdom (full title: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but usually shortened to the United Kingdom, the UK, or Britain) is a country and sovereign state to the northwest of Europe. It comprises the island of Great Britain, the north-east part of the island of Ireland and many small local islands. The UK is surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, and the Irish Sea. It is linked to France by the Channel Tunnel.
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy comprising four constituent countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II who is also Queen and Head of State of fifteen other Commonwealth Realms including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica.
The UK has been an important political, economic and nuclear military power for many years; it holds a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and is a member of the G8, NATO, the European Union and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Most of the UK consists of lowland terrain, with some mountainous terrain in the north-west (the Cumbrian Mountains), north ( the Penmnes and limestone hillsof the Peak District) and south-west ( Exmoorand Dartmooi, the highestmountain in the BritishIslesisBen Hevis ( 1,344 m or 4,406 ft ) it is located in Scotland. Scotlandisalso known as a territory of islands - there are nearly eight hundred islands in Scotland. The main risers are the Thames. Severn and the Humber Estuary.
The UK has a temperate climate, with plentiful rainfall all sear round, though the seasons are quite variable in temperature. However, temperatures rarely fall below -4 °C and will only rise above 32 °C in the height of the summer. Snowfall can occur in winter and early spring, though it is not very common away from high ground.
The United Kingdom's population has been estimated up to 60.2 million, it is i the third largest in the European Union (behind Germany and France) and the twenty-first largest in the world. About a quarter of the population lives in England's prosperous southeast and is predominantly urban and suburban, with an estimated 7,517,700 in the capital of London. The United Kingdom's high literacy rate (99%) is explained by universal state education which is obligatory from ages 'l five to sixteen.
The UK is today a predominantly secular state with only 38% of the
population believing in a God.The UK is traditionally a Christian state. Muslims in
the United Kingdom are believed to number over 1.8 million, and mosques are a
common sight in some regions. The biggest groups are of Pakistani and
Bangladeshi origin. Religions of Indian origin, such as Hinduism and Sikhism, also
enjoy an increased following in Britain.
Based on market exchange rates, the United Kingdom is the fifth largest economy in the world, and the second largest in Europe after Germany. Initially it concentrated on heavy industries such as shipbuilding, coal mining, steel production and textiles. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves, although the natural gas and oil reserves are diminishing.
The British manufacturing sector is still a significant part of the economy, but only accounted for one-sixth of national output in 2003. The United Kingdom's civil and defence aircraft production holds a major share of the global aerospace engines market. The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is also strong in the UK, with the world's second and sixth largest pharmaceutical firms being based in the UK. The United Kingdom's agriculture sector accounts for only 0.9% of the country's GDP.
The service sector of the United Kingdom is dominated by financial services, especially in banking and insurance. London 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 The City.It also has the largest concentration of foreign bank branches in the world.
Tourism is very important to the British economy. With over 27 million tourists a year. the United Kingdom is ranked as the sixth major tourist destination in the world.