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Introduction

Background: Great Britain, the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the earth's surface. The first half of the 20th century saw the UK's strength seriously depleted in two World Wars. The second half witnessed the dismantling of the Empire and the UK rebuilding itself into a modern and prosperous European nation. The UK currently is weighing the degree of its integration with continental Europe. A member of the EU, it chose to remain outside of the EMU for the time being. Constitutional reform is also a significant issue in the UK. Regional assemblies with varying degrees of power opened in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 1999.

Geography

Location: Western Europe, islands including the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, northwest of France

Geographic coordinates: 54 00 N, 2 00 W

Map references: Europe

Area
  total: 244,820 sq km
  land: 241,590 sq km
  water: 3,230 sq km (Note: includes Rockall and Shetland Islands)

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon

Land boundaries
  total: 360 km
  border countries: Ireland 360 km

Coastline: 12,429 km

Maritime claims
  continental shelf: as defined in continental shelf orders or in accordance with agreed upon boundaries
  exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
  territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast

Terrain: mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast

Elevation extremes
  lowest point: Fenland -4 m
  highest point: Ben Nevis 1,343 m

Natural resources: coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, silica, arable land

Land use
  arable land: 25%
  permanent crops: 0%
  permanent pastures: 46%
  forests and woodland: 10%
  other: 19% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,080 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: NA

Environment - current issues: sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants contribute to air pollution; some rivers polluted by agricultural wastes; and coastal waters polluted because of large-scale disposal of sewage at sea

Environment - international agreements
  party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
  signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Geography - note: lies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from France and now linked by tunnel under the English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters

People

Population: 59,511,464 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 19% (male 5,816,313; female 5,519,479)
  15-64 years: 65% (male 19,622,152; female 19,228,938)
  65 years and over: 16% (male 3,864,612; female 5,459,970) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.25% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 11.76 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 10.38 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 1.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio
  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
  under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
  15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
  65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
  total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 5.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 77.66 years
  male: 74.97 years
  female: 80.49 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.74 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality
  noun: Briton(s), British (collective plural)
  adjective: British

Ethnic groups: English 81.5%, Scottish 9.6%, Irish 2.4%, Welsh 1.9%, Ulster 1.8%, West Indian, Indian, Pakistani, and other 2.8%

Religions: Anglican 27 million, Roman Catholic 9 million, Muslim 1 million, Presbyterian 800,000, Methodist 760,000, Sikh 400,000, Hindu 350,000, Jewish 300,000 (1991 est.)

Languages: English, Welsh (about 26% of the population of Wales), Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland)

Literacy
  definition: age 15 and over has completed five or more years of schooling
  total population: 99% (1978 est.)
  male: NA%
  female: NA%

Government

Country name
  conventional long form: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  conventional short form: United Kingdom
  abbreviation: UK

Data code: UK

Government type: constitutional monarchy

Capital: London

Administrative divisions: 47 counties, 7 metropolitan counties, 26 districts, 9 regions, and 3 islands areas; England - 39 counties, 7 metropolitan counties*; Avon, Bedford, Berkshire, Buckingham, Cambridge, Cheshire, Cleveland, Cornwall, Cumbria, Derby, Devon, Dorset, Durham, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucester, Greater London*, Greater Manchester*, Hampshire, Hereford and Worcester, Hertford, Humberside, Isle of Wight, Kent, Lancashire, Leicester, Lincoln, Merseyside*, Norfolk, Northampton, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Nottingham, Oxford, Shropshire, Somerset, South Yorkshire*, Stafford, Suffolk, Surrey, Tyne and Wear*, Warwick, West Midlands*, West Sussex, West Yorkshire*, Wiltshire; Northern Ireland - 26 districts; Antrim, Ards, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Belfast, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Coleraine, Cookstown, Craigavon, Down, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Larne, Limavady, Lisburn, Londonderry, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newry and Mourne, Newtownabbey, North Down, Omagh, Strabane; Scotland - 9 regions, 3 islands areas*; Borders, Central, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Grampian, Highland, Lothian, Orkney*, Shetland*, Strathclyde, Tayside, Western Isles*; Wales - 8 counties; Clwyd, Dyfed, Gwent, Gwynedd, Mid Glamorgan, Powys, South Glamorgan, West Glamorgan (Note: England may now have 35 counties and Wales 9 counties)

Dependent areas: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands

Independence: England has existed as a unified entity since the 10th century; the union between England and Wales was enacted under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284; in the Act of Union of 1707, England and Scotland agreed to permanent union as Great Britain; the legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland was implemented in 1801, with the adoption of the name the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 formalized a partition of Ireland; six northern Irish counties remained part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland and the current name of the country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was adopted in 1927

National holiday: Celebration of the Birthday of the Queen (second Saturday in June)

Constitution: unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice

Legal system: common law tradition with early Roman and modern continental influences; no judicial review of Acts of Parliament; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations; British courts and legislation are increasingly subject to review by European Union courts

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
  chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); Heir Apparent Prince CHARLES (son of the queen, born 14 November 1948)
  head of government: Prime Minister Anthony C. L. (Tony) BLAIR (since 2 May 1997)
  cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
  elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the prime minister is the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons (assuming there is no majority party, a prime minister would have a majority coalition or at least a coalition that was not rejected by the majority)

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of House of Lords (the old House of Lords has been disbanded, and the new one is still being formed; the most likely plan calls for 500 members, one-fifth elected and the rest appointed) and House of Commons (659 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms unless the House is dissolved earlier)
  elections: House of Lords - no elections; note - the newly-forming House of Lords may call for some elected seats; House of Commons - last held 1 May 1997 (next to be held by NA May 2002); note - in 1998 elections were held for a Northern Ireland Parliament (because of unresolved disputes among existing parties, the transfer of power from London to Northern Ireland came only at the end of 1999 and was rescinded in February 2000); in 1999 there were elections for a new Scottish Parliament and a new Welsh Assembly
  election results: House of Commons - percent of vote by party - Labor 45%, Conservative and Unionist 31%, Liberal Democratic 17%, other 7%; seats by party - Labor 418, Conservative and Unionist 165, Liberal Democrat 46, other 30 (Note: in 1999, the government ended the right of most hereditary members, except for life members and 92 hereditary members, to sit in the House of Lords; they will sit until final reforms are made)

Judicial branch: House of Lords, several Lords of Appeal in Ordinary are appointed by the monarch for life

Political parties and leaders: Alliance Party (Northern Ireland) [Seamus CLOSE]; Conservative and Unionist Party [William HAGUE]; Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [Rev. Ian PAISLEY]; Labor Party [Anthony (Tony) Blair]; Liberal Democrats [Charles KENNEDY]; Scottish National Party [Alex SALMOND]; Sinn Fein (Northern Ireland) [Gerry ADAMS]; Social Democratic and Labor Party or SDLP (Northern Ireland) [John HUME]; Ulster Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [David TRIMBLE]; Welsh National Party (Plaid Cymru) [Dafydd Iwan WIGLEY]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Confederation of British Industry; National Farmers' Union; Trades Union Congress

International organization participation: AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, C, CCC, CDB (non-regional), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECA (associate), ECE, ECLAC, EIB, ESA, ESCAP, EU, FAO, G- 5, G- 7, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, MONUC, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNAMSIL, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNTAET, UNU, UPU, WCL, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Sir Christopher J. R. MEYER
  chancery: 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
  telephone: [1] (202) 588-6500
  FAX: [1] (202) 588-7870
  consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
  consulate(s): Dallas, Miami, and Seattle

Diplomatic representation from the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Philip LADER
  embassy: 24/31 Grosvenor Square, London, W. 1A1AE
  mailing address: PSC 801, Box 40, FPO AE 09498-4040
  telephone: [44] (171) 499-9000
  FAX: [44] (171) 409-1637
  consulate(s) general: Belfast, Edinburgh

Flag description: blue with the red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England) edged in white superimposed on the diagonal red cross of Saint Patrick (patron saint of Ireland) and which is superimposed on the diagonal white cross of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland); known as the Union Flag or Union Jack; the design and colors (especially the Blue Ensign) have been the basis for a number of other flags including other Commonwealth countries and their constituent states or provinces, as well as British overseas territories

Economy

Economy - overview: The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, deploys an essentially capitalistic economy, one of the quartet of trillion dollar economies of Western Europe. Over the past two decades the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP, one of the highest shares of any industrial nation. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance. Economic growth has been slowed in 1999; recovery to 3% is in prospect for 2000, based on a rise in exports and domestic demand. The BLAIR government has put off the question of participation in the euro system until after the next election, not expected until 2001; Chancellor of the Exchequer BROWN has identified some key economic tests to determine whether the UK should join the common currency system.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.29 trillion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 1.9% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $21,800 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 1.7%
  industry: 25.3%
  services: 73% (1998)

Population below poverty line: 17%

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: 2.4%
  highest 10%: 24.7% (1986)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.3% (1999)

Labor force: 29.2 million (1999)

Labor force - by occupation: services 68.9%, manufacturing and construction 17.5%, government 11.3%, energy 1.2%, agriculture 1.1% (1996)

Unemployment rate: 6% (1999)

Budget
  revenues: $541 billion
  expenditures: $507.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $35.1 billion (FY98/99)

Industries: production machinery including machine tools, electric power equipment, automation equipment, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, electronics and communications equipment, metals, chemicals, coal, petroleum, paper and paper products, food processing, textiles, clothing, and other consumer goods

Industrial production growth rate: -0.3% (1999)

Electricity - production: 343.099 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 68.24%
  hydro: 1.49%
  nuclear: 28.48%
  other: 1.79% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 331.482 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 200 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 12.6 billion kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, poultry; fish

Exports: $271 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

Exports - commodities: manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco

Exports - partners: EU 58% (Germany 12%, France 10%, Netherlands 8%), US 13% (1998)

Imports: $305.9 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

Imports - commodities: manufactured goods, machinery, fuels; foodstuffs

Imports - partners: EU 53% (Germany 13%, France 9%, Netherlands 7%, Italy 5%), US 14% (1998)

Debt - external: $NA

Economic aid - donor: ODA, $3.4 billion (1997)

Currency: 1 British pound = 100 pence

Exchange rates: British pounds per US$1 - 0.6092 (January 2000), 0.6180 (1999), 0.6037 (1998), 0.6106 (1997), 0.6403 (1996), 0.6335 (1995)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 29.41 million (1995)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 13 million (yearend 1998)

Telephone system: technologically advanced domestic and international system
  domestic: equal mix of buried cables, microwave radio relay, and fiber-optic systems
  international: 40 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 10 Intelsat (7 Atlantic Ocean and 3 Indian Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean region), and 1 Eutelsat; at least 8 large international switching centers

Radio broadcast stations: AM 219, FM 431, shortwave 3 (1998)

Radios: 84.5 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 78 (plus 869 repeaters) (1997)

Televisions: 30.5 million (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 364 (1999)

Transportation

Railways
  total: 16,878 km
  broad gauge: 342 km 1.600-m gauge (190 km double track); note - all 1.600-m gauge track, of which 342 km is in common carrier use, and is in Northern Ireland
  standard gauge: 16,536 km 1.435-m gauge (4,928 km electrified; 12,591 km double or multiple track) (1996)

Highways
  total: 371,603 km
  paved: 371,603 km (including 3,303 km of expressways)
  unpaved: 0 km (1998 est.)

Waterways: 3,200 km

Pipelines: crude oil (almost all insignificant) 933 km; petroleum products 2,993 km; natural gas 12,800 km

Ports and harbors: Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Dover, Falmouth, Felixstowe, Glasgow, Grangemouth, Hull, Leith, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Peterhead, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Scapa Flow, Southampton, Sullom Voe, Tees, Tyne

Merchant marine
  total: 173 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,917,708 GRT/3,063,113 DWT
  ships by type: bulk 4, cargo 33, chemical tanker 5, combination ore/oil 1, container 39, liquified gas 2, passenger 8, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 50, roll-on/roll-off 18, short-sea passenger 10, specialized tanker 1, vehicle carrier 1 (1999 est.)

Airports: 498 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 357
  over 3,047 m: 10
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 33
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 166
  914 to 1,523 m: 93
  under 914 m: 55 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 141
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
  914 to 1,523 m: 23
  under 914 m: 117 (1999 est.)

Heliports: 12 (1999 est.)

Military

Military branches: Army, Royal Navy (includes Royal Marines), Royal Air Force

Military manpower - availability
  males age 15-49: 14,574,955 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service
  males age 15-49: 12,134,272 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $36.884 billion (FY97/98)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.7% (FY97/98)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: Northern Ireland issue with Ireland (historic peace agreement signed 10 April 1998); Gibraltar issue with Spain; Argentina claims Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas); Argentina claims South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Mauritius claims island of Diego Garcia in British Indian Ocean Territory; Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark, Iceland, and Ireland (Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area); territorial claim in Antarctica (British Antarctic Territory); Seychelles claims Chagos Archipelago in British Indian Ocean Territory

Illicit drugs: gateway country for Latin American cocaine entering the European market; producer and major consumer of synthetic drugs, synthetic precursor chemicals; major consumer of Southwest Asian heroin; money-laundering center

 

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