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United Kingdom UK Country Profile
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UK Country Profile


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At a glance:

  1. Location: Most of the British Isles, north-west Europe
  2. Neighbours: Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands
  3. Size: 93,628 square miles
  4. Population: 60,975,400 (22nd)
  5. Density: 651.3 people per square mile
  6. Capital city: London (population 7,557,000)
  7. Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II
    Head of government: Prime minister Gordon Brown
  8. Currency: Pound sterling
  9. Time zone: GMT
  10. International dialling code: +44

Potted history of the country: Consisting of Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom once headed the largest empire in history, ruling one-quarter of the world's population. The two world wars changed the global landscape and led to the end of the empire. The UK still wields significant military, cultural and economic influence worldwide.

Political pressure points: The Labour government is under pressure to alleviate the effects of the global credit crisis. Pensions, education and the National Health Service remain much-debated issues.

Population mix: White 92.1%, mixed 1.2%, Indian 1.8%, Pakistani 1.3%, Bangladeshi 0.5%, other Asian 0.4%, black Caribbean 1%, black African 0.8%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%

Religious makeup: Protestant 43%, Catholic 10%, Muslim 3%

Main languages: English, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish

Living national icons: Judi Dench, Sean Connery (actors), Alan Bennett (dramatist), Martin Amis (writer), Paul McCartney (musician), David Hockney (artist), Bobby Charlton, David Beckham (footballers), Andy Murray (tennis), Paula Radcliffe (athlete), Monty Panesar (cricketer)

Landscape and climate: Lowland terrain in the south and a mountainous north characterise the landscapes of both England and Scotland, which is also home to numerous islands. Wales is mainly mountainous with 750 miles of coastline; Northern Ireland is primarily hilly. Temperatures are largely temperate with year-round rainfall.

Highest point: Ben Nevis 1,343 metres

Area covered by water: 1,247.1 square miles

Healthcare and disease: The UK has a comprehensive, tax-funded National Health Service, free at the point of use. Health concerns include MRSA, smoking, obesity, drug and alcohol misuse and sexual health.

Average life expectancy (m/f): 77/81

Average number of children per mother: 1.8

Maternal deaths per 100,000 live births: 8

Infant deaths per 1,000 births: 6

Adults HIV/Aids rate: 0.2%

Doctors per 1,000 head of population: 2.3

Adult literacy rate: 99%

Economic outlook: Statistics in January 2009 confirmed the UK was in recession for the first time since 1991. New measures are hoped to boost the economy and encourage banks to lend money.

Main industries: Financial services, tourism, arts and creative sector, hi-tech industries, transport equipment, foodstuffs, machinery, chemical products, armament and defence equipment, metals and metal products

Key crops/livestock: Poultry, cattle, fish, wheat, sugar beet, potatoes, barley

Key exports: Petroleum, chemicals, machinery, motor vehicles, manufactured goods

GDP: £1,213,893m (5th)

GDP per head: £20,048

Unemployment rate: 5.3%

Proportion of global carbon emissions: 2.01%

Most popular tourist attractions: Scottish Highlands, Yorkshire Dales, cities of Bath, Edinburgh and London, Jurassic coast of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Pembrokeshire coast, Giants Causeway and glens of Antrim.

Local recommendation: Snowdonia's mountain ranges, in north Wales, offers spectacular views of the peaks and across the Menai Straits.

Traditional dish: Fish and chips, laverbread, haggis, Ulster fry

Foreign tourist visitors: 32,558,000

Media freedom index (ranked out of 173): 23

Did you know ... The UK is slightly smaller than the US state of Oregon, just under half the size of France and 30 times smaller than Australia.

National anthem:
God save our gracious Queen
Long live our noble Queen
God save the Queen
Send her victorious
Happy and glorious
Long to reign over us
God save the Queen


(Source: guardian.co.uk)

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