Portal:United Kingdom

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Flag of the United Kingdom
Flag of the United Kingdom
Coat of Arms for the United Kingdom
Coat of Arms for the United Kingdom
Map of the United Kingdom in the British Isles.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, simply known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Northwestern Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and smaller islands within the British Isles. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland; otherwise, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea. The total area of the United Kingdom is 242,495 square kilometres (93,628 sq mi), with an estimated 2023 population of over 68 million people.

The United Kingdom has evolved from a series of annexations, unions and separations of constituent countries over several hundred years. The Treaty of Union between the Kingdom of England (which also included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland in 1707 resulted in their unification to become the Kingdom of Great Britain. Its union in 1801 with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Most of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which formally adopted its name in 1927. The nearby Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown Dependencies, but the British government is responsible for their defence and international representation.

The UK became the world's first industrialised country and was the foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries, a period of unchallenged global hegemony known as "Pax Britannica". The 14 British Overseas Territories are the last remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's landmass and population, and was the largest empire in history. A part of the core Anglophonic world, British influence can be observed in the language, culture, legal and political systems of many of its former colonies.

The UK has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), and the tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. It is a recognised nuclear state and is ranked fourth globally in military expenditure. The UK has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the OECD, Five Eyes, NATO and AUKUS. The UK is set to join the CPTPP, a major trade bloc in the Indo-Pacific, after negotiations regarding its accession concluded in March 2023. It was a member state of the European Communities (EC) and its successor, the European Union (EU), from its accession in 1973 until its withdrawal in 2020 with a limited free trade deal. (Full article...)

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from original manuscript, artist unknown)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from original manuscript, artist unknown)

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative chivalric romance outlining an adventure of Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table. In this Arthurian tale, Sir Gawain accepts a challenge from a mysterious warrior who is completely green, from his clothes and hair to his beard and skin. The "Green Knight" offers to allow anyone to strike him with his axe if the challenger will take a return blow in a year and a day. Gawain accepts, and beheads him in one blow, only to have the Green Knight stand up, pick up his head, and remind Gawain to meet him at the appointed time. The story of Gawain's struggle to meet the appointment and his adventures along the way demonstrate chivalry and loyalty. The poem survives on a single manuscript, the Cotton Nero A.x., on which are also written three religious pieces. These works are thought to have been written by the same unknown author, dubbed the "Pearl Poet" or "Gawain poet". All four narrative poems are written in a North West Midland dialect of Middle English. Everything from the Green Knight, to the beheading game, to the girdle given to Gawain as protection from the axe, is richly symbolic and steeped in Celtic, Germanic, and other folklore and cultural traditions. (Full article...)

John Michael Wright (May 1617 – July 1694) was an English or Scottish (he signed as both at times) portrait painter in the Baroque style. Wright trained in Edinburgh under the Scots painter George Jamesone, and acquired a considerable reputation as an artist and scholar during a long sojourn in Rome. There he was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca and was associated with some of the leading artists of his generation. He was engaged by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, the governor of the Spanish Netherlands, to acquire artworks in Oliver Cromwell's England in 1655. He took up permanent residence in England from 1656 and served as court painter before and after the English Restoration. A convert to Roman Catholicism, he was a favourite of the restored Stuart court, a client of both Charles II and James II, and was a witness to many of the political manoeuvrings of the era. In the final years of the Stuart monarchy he returned to Rome as part of an embassy to Pope Innocent XI.

Wright is currently rated as one of the leading indigenous British painters of his generation, largely for the distinctive realism in his portraiture. Perhaps due to the unusually cosmopolitan nature of his experience, he was favoured by patrons at the highest level of society in an age in which foreign artists were usually preferred. Wright's paintings of royalty and aristocracy are included amongst the collections of many leading galleries today. (Full article...)

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In the news

Wikinews UK

31 May 2023 – Cannich wildfire
A wildfire which had been burning for four days in the Scottish Highlands is brought under control after affecting about 30 sq mi (78 km2) of land, making it the largest ever recorded in the United Kingdom. (BBC News)
31 May 2023 – 2023 Bournemouth beach incident
Two people die and eight others are injured during an incident at a beach in Bournemouth, Dorset, United Kingdom. A man has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, according to Dorset Police. (BBC News)
25 May 2023 – Modern immigration to the United Kingdom
Net migration to the United Kingdom reaches a record of 606,000, mostly due to non-EU arrivals, according to the Office for National Statistics. In response, Minister of State for Immigration Robert Jenrick reaffirmed the governments commitment "to reducing overall net migration to sustainable levels". (Sky News)
25 May 2023 –
Police arrest a man after he crashed his car into the gates outside Downing Street in London, which houses the official residences and offices of the prime minister Rishi Sunak. (BBC News)
23 May 2023 – 2023 Cardiff riot
Rioting occurs in Ely, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, after two teenage boys were killed when their e-bike collided with a bus as they were being pursued by police. (BBC News)
16 May 2023 –
Meta Platforms begins introducing paid verification on Facebook and Instagram for users in the United Kingdom. (BBC News)


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