United Kingdom 1125
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United Kingdom of Great Britain and

Northern Ireland



The United Kingdom consists of a collection of islands which are located off the northwestern coast of Europe between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. Its total area of 244,820 square kilometers (94,525 square miles) is shared by 4 main territories. The largest is England, with an area of 130,373 square kilometers (50,337 square miles). To the west of England is Wales, with 20,767 square kilometers (8,018 square miles), and to England's north is Scotland, with an area of 78,775 square kilometers (30,415 square miles). Northern Ireland occupies 14,120 square kilometers (5,452 square miles) on the island of Ireland. England, Wales, and Scotland are collectively and commonly known as Great Britain. The United Kingdom also includes numerous small islands. These include the Orkney Islands, the Shetland Islands, the Outer Hebrides, Skye, Mull, Arran, the Isle of Man, the Isles of Scilly, and the Channel Islands. From the southern coast of England to the north of Scotland is a distance of some 1,000 kilometers (622 miles) and the widest part of Great Britain is under 500 kilometers (311 miles). The total boundary length of 8,352 kilometers (5,190 miles) includes a coastline of 7,918 kilometers (4,920 miles) and a land boundary with the Irish Republic of 434 kilometers (270 miles). London is the capital and it is located in southeastern England. London has a population of some 7,000,000, including its suburbs. Birmingham is the United Kingdom's second-largest city, with 934,000 people.


In July of 2001, the population of the United Kingdom was estimated to be 59,647,790. The nation has the third-largest population in Europe and the eighteenth-largest in the world. Currently, the population growth rate is 0.23 percent. A low birth rate and emigration will cause the population to decrease to under 57 million by 2030. The birth rate has remained low since the early 1970s. The current rate is 11.76 births per 1,000 people and the fertility rate is 1.76 children born for each woman. The infant mortality rate is 5.63 deaths per 1,000 live births. The overall mortality rate is 10.38 deaths per 1,000. About 75 percent of the population lives in urban areas and about 40 percent lives in the southeast region of the country. Many regions of Northern Ireland and areas of Scotland remain essentially rural. The United Kingdom has a large elderly population (nearly 16 percent of the total population is over age 65). The elderly are the fastest growing segment of the British population. Over time, this will put additional strains on the kingdom's social security and medical systems. The life expectancy for males is 74.97 years and 80.49 years for females.

The English make up 81.5 percent of the population, followed by the Scots at 9.6 percent, the Irish at 2.4 percent, the Welsh at 1.9 percent, and the Ulster Irish at 1.8 percent. Since the demise of the British Empire in the mid-1900s, many former colonial citizens have immigrated to the United Kingdom. There is a sizable community of immigrants and descendants of immigrants who combine to account for 2.8 percent of the population. The largest ethnic minority groups are Indian, West

Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi. About 40 percent of the ethnic community were born in the United Kingdom, and some 74 percent are of mixed ethnicity. One of the most significant differences between the English and minority communities is age. About 42 percent of the British and Irish population is under 30, while 60 percent of the West Indian population and 70 percent of those from the Indian subcontinent are under 30. Ethnic minorities are also geographically concentrated in the greater London area. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have very small ethnic minorities (less than 0.8 percent of the total population). English is the official language of the United Kingdom. About 26 percent of the people of Wales speak Welsh and about 60,000 Scots, mainly in western Scotland, still speak the Scottish dialect of Gaelic. A small number of the Northern Irish continue to speak the Irish form of Gaelic.

Christianity is the dominant religion of the United Kingdom. Anglicans and Roman Catholics are largest Christian groups. There are 27 million Anglicans, 9 million Roman Catholics, 800,000 Presbyterians and 760,000 Methodists. Immigration has resulted in a large non-Christian community. The Muslim community now numbers more than 1 million. In addition, there are some 400,000 Sikhs in the nation and 350,000 Hindus. The Jewish population is approximately 300,000. The United Kingdom has a history of religious strife between the Protestants and Catholics and while religious toleration is now widespread, conflict between the 2 groups continues in Northern Ireland.


The manufacturing sector in the United Kingdom is diverse and includes industries that range from aerospace to automobiles to chemicals. In 2000, there were 4.14 million Britons employed in manufacturing. There are 1,500 aerospace companies in the United Kingdom. British Aerospace manufacturers had revenues of US$12.8 billion, including exports of US$9.2 billion. About half of the British aerospace industry is geared toward the production of military aircraft and parts. Several British defense manufacturers, including British Aerospace (Bae), are the among the largest arms firms in the world. In 2000, the United Kingdom was the world's fourth-largest arms exporter. British weapons sales included missiles, ships, tanks, and aircraft. Most of the sales were concentrated to countries in the Middle East such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The United Kingdom is also one of the foremost publishing centers in the world, publishing more than 50,000 book titles per year. Several major British publishers, including Pearson and Palgrave, have moved into the American market by purchasing U.S. firms. Automobile manufacturers have a long and productive history in the United Kingdom. However, many British firms have recently been purchased by foreign companies. For example, Jaguar and Aston Martin are now owned by Ford, while Rover is owned by BMW. The world-renowned Bentley is now owned by the German firm Volkswagen, and after 2003, BMW will own Rolls Royce automobiles. Japanese automobile manufacturers such as Nissan, Honda, and Toyota have plants in the United Kingdom, and produce a combined 700,000 cars per year. Automobile manufacturers and car part makers employ some 850,000 British workers. In 2000, UK firms produced 1.629 million cars. Of this number, 1.138 million were exported. British manufacturers also produced 185,905 commercial vehicles, mainly trucks. Unlike cars, most commercial vehicles are made for the domestic market (only 74,922 were exported in 2000).

The British chemical industry has averaged 5 percent annual growth since the early 1990s. Most of this growth has been concentrated in the pharmaceutical sector, where demand for new medical products has risen dramatically. The increased demand for prescription and over-the-counter drugs has led to a drug store market that includes some 12,000 pharmacies. The chemical sector was worth US$56 billion, of which US$12.6 billion was pharmaceuticals.

After several years of decline, the construction industry rebounded in 1999 because of dramatic increases in the housing market. After several years of strong economic growth and increases in wages, many workers began to purchase new homes, or add expansions to their existing homes in 1999. Government spending on new projects, including hospitals, public housing, and government buildings, has also helped stabilize the market. In 2000 there were 1.8 million Britons employed in construction.


The British telecommunications sector is currently worth US$34 billion. This equates to 2 percent of GDP and 1.7 percent of consumer spending. About 96 percent of British homes have a telephone, and there is an increasing demand for second telephone lines for computer or fax access. The market is adding about 500,000 new telephone land-lines per year. British Telecom is no longer a state monopoly, but it still dominates the British telecommunications sector with about 80 percent of the business market and 64 percent of the consumer market. Many U.S. companies have had success in the United Kingdom's long distance market, including Sprint, MCI, and AT&T. There are 4 companies with licenses to offer cellular service. These include the British Telecom-owned BT Cellnet, Vodafone, One-2-One and Orange.

The United Kingdom has an expanding e-commerce market. In 1999, the market was worth US$3 billion. There are about 9,000 companies primarily involved in e-commerce, and 72,000 that do some business over the Internet. E-commerce companies range from booksellers to food delivery services. Meanwhile, the computer software market was worth US$10.3 billion. Personal computer use is expected to increase by 15 percent over the next few years. Computer software sales and supplies totaled US$39 billion in 2000.


. British insurance firms dominate the maritime insurance market and provide insurance for about 25 percent of the world's merchant ships. London is a major international center for buying and selling currencies from around the world; almost one-third of all foreign exchange transactions in the world take place in London. In addition, 25 percent of all banking assets in the EU are located in the United Kingdom and the kingdom's banks accounted for 21 percent of all cross-border lending. The prominence of the United Kingdom as an international financial center is reflected by the number of banks and financial institutions in the country. There are 420 different banks in the United Kingdom. Of these, 190 are incorporated in the kingdom, 103 are banks from the EU, and 127 are from other countries in the world. The British banking sector is worth £2.66 trillion. Banking employs 415,000 people, or about 1.7 percent of the workforce. The British banking sector is dominated by banking groups or consortia of several different individual banks. The largest of these is Lloyds TSB. Lloyds TSB is made up of 8 banks with 2,529 branches. The second largest bank group is Barclays, with 1,899 branches in the United Kingdom. There are 37 different American banks with branches in the United Kingdom, including branches of Citibank, Bank of America, American Express, and Bank Boston.


. Franchises account for a significant share (one-third) of the British retail sector. This includes about 40 American franchises that employ about 30,000 workers in 3,000 stores and have revenues of US$1.65 billion. American specialty clothing stores such as The Gap, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger have done especially well in the US$40 billion United Kingdom clothing and apparel market. Retail food sales in the kingdom in 1998 were US$81.5 billion. Five major supermarkets control about 70 percent of the retail food market. These 5 companies are Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda/Wal-Mart, Safeway, and Somerfield. Restaurant sales in 2000 were US$25 billion and bar sales (which include food since many British citizens eat at pubs that serve both food and alcohol) were US$30 billion. There are 12 American restaurant franchisers in the United Kingdom, ranging from Denny's to Subway to Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). McDonald's alone operates 750 restaurants in the United Kingdom.


The hotel industry in the United Kingdom is worth US$10 billion alone. There are 22,000 economy hotels in the country and 10,000 medium to high-class hotels. One demonstration of the strength of the hotel sector is the fact that occupancy rates average 80 percent nationwide. Travel Inn and Travelodge account for 75 percent of the low-budget hotels in the kingdom while international firms such as Holiday Inn and Sheraton constitute a significant percentage of the upper scale lodgings. In 1997, about 25.5 million tourists visited the United Kingdom. This represented a 28 percent increase since 1993. In 1997, tourist revenues amounted to US$20 billion.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): United Kingdom
Exports Imports
1975 43.423 53.343
1980 110.134 115.545
1985 101.252 108.957
1990 185.172 222.977
1995 242.042 263.719
1998 271.865 314.106
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.



The United Kingdom has a number of territories that are known as British Crown Dependencies. These areas were once directly owned by the British monarch. The main Crown Dependencies include the Isle of Man and the islands of Jersey and Guernsey (which are known as the Channel Islands). These regions are part of the United Kingdom, but they enjoy a significant amount of political and economic freedom. The Queen is the head of state of these dependencies and appoints the head of the government. The Channel Islands each have an appointed lieutenant-governor, while the Isle of Man is led by a chief minister chosen by the Queen. Each dependency has its own elected assembly, which may enact legislation that does not conflict with the laws of the United Kingdom. These laws are subject to approval by the head of government. The kingdom has responsibility for the defense and foreign policy of the dependency, and judges are appointed by the Lord Chancellor of England (who is the chief justice of both England and Wales). In the Channel Islands, the Queen also appoints the bailiff, who is the chief law-enforcement officer.

The Isle of Man has a total area of 572 square kilometers (221 square miles). It is located in the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland. It is 3 times the size of Washington, D.C. In 2001, the population of the Isle of Man was 73,489. The Channel Islands are located in the English Channel between France and the United Kingdom. Jersey is a single island with a size of 116 square kilometers (45 square miles) and a population of 89,361. Guernsey consists of 4 main islands and a number of smaller islands. It has an area of 194 square kilometers (75 square miles) and a population of 64,342. On the Isle of Man, the Manx dialect of the Celtic language is spoken alongside English. In the Channel Islands, some people still use a Norman French dialect, while French is still used in Jersey for official ceremonies.

Because of their degree of independence in local economic matters, each of the dependencies has enacted legislation which has made the particular territory attractive to international banking and financial firms. Incorporation fees are low, as are corporate taxes. Individual taxation is also lower, mainly in the case of estate taxes . This has led many Britons to transfer funds to bank accounts in the dependencies.

In 1998, the GDP of the Isle of Man was US$1.2 billion. The GDP per capita was US$16,000. Agriculture accounts for 1 percent of GDP and employs 3 percent of the population. Industry comprises 10 percent of the GDP and 21 percent of the workforce. Services account for 89 percent of GDP and 76 percent of workers. The dominant forces in the economy are offshore banking and tourism. The main exports are clothing, herring, shellfish and livestock. The island has an astoundingly low unemployment rate of 0.7 percent. The currency of the Island is the Manx pound, which is fixed at a one-for-one exchange rate with the British pound. The dependency's main trade partner is the United Kingdom

The GDP of Jersey in 1999 was US$2.2 billion. Its GDP per capita was US$24,800. Agriculture makes up 5 percent of GDP, while industry accounts for 2 percent and services make up 93 percent. The service sector also dominates employment with over 90 percent of the work-force. Financial services account for 60 percent of GDP, while tourism accounts for 24 percent. Dairy production is also significant. Exports include dairy products, electrical goods, foodstuffs and textiles. Jersey's unemployment rate is also extremely low at 0.7 percent. The Jersey pound is the currency of the island, with an exchange rate of one-to-one with the British pound. The area's main trade partners are the EU and the United Kingdom

In 1999, Guernsey's GDP was US$1.3 billion. Guernsey's GDP per capita was US$20,000. Financial services tower over other sectors of the economy and provide about 53 percent of GDP. In overall terms, agriculture accounts for 3 percent of the economy, industry 10 percent, and services 87 percent. The islands have full employment with an unemployment rate of only 0.5 percent. The main exports of the islands include tomatoes, flowers and ferns, sweet peppers, eggplants, and fruit. The Guernsey pound is the currency of the islands. It is fixed to the British pound at a one-to-one exchange rate. The main trading partners of Guernsey are the EU and the United Kingdom.


At its height in the early 1900s, the British Empire controlled one-fourth of the world's territory and one-third of its people. Following World War II, most of the British colonies became independent. Some of the few remaining colonial possessions are in the Caribbean and North Atlantic. These areas are known as Overseas Territories and include Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. In each of the Territories, the Queen is the head of state and she appoints a governor-general to represent her. In turn, the governor general appoints the head of the government from the largest political party or group in the area's elected assembly. The Territories have a high degree of independence on local matters, but the United Kingdom remains responsible for foreign policy and defense matters. The United Kingdom also provides economic assistance to the territories, mainly in the form of aid for infrastructure projects such as roads and ports. This political connection between the Territories and the United Kingdom has proven to be very popular. In 1995, the residents of Bermuda soundly rejected a referendum that would have granted the islands independence. After signing an agreement for independence that was supposed to go into effect in 1982, the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands worked out an arrangement to remain a Territory and forego independence.

Tourism is the mainstay of the economies of all of the islands, although in recent years, several Territories have developed significant financial sectors by adopting very liberal banking laws. These rules imposed low incorporation fees and low taxes on financial gains and allowed citizens of other countries to keep large accounts in international banks with little scrutiny.

Bermuda consists of a series of small islands in the Atlantic Ocean, east of North Carolina. It has an area of just 58 square kilometers (22 square miles) and is about 0.3 the size of Washington, D.C. In 2001, the islands had a population of 63,503. Its 2000 GDP was US$2.1 billion. This gives Bermuda one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world (US$33,000). Bermuda's economy is concentrated on tourism and international banking. Each year, Bermuda receives about 360,000 tourists and that sector accounts for about 28 percent of GDP. Financial services account for 45 percent of GDP. About 1 percent of GDP is based on agriculture, 10 percent on industry, and 89 percent on services. The Territories' main trade partners are the United Kingdom, the United States, and Mexico. In 1995, Bermuda received US$27.9 million in foreign aid, most of it from the United States and the United Kingdom. The currency is the Bermudan dollar which is fixed to the U.S. dollar at a one-for-one exchange rate.

The British Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean, just east of Puerto Rico. The islands are 150 square kilometers (58 square miles) in size and had a population of 20,812 in 2001. The GDP of the Territory was US$311 million in 2000, and its GDP per capita was US$16,000. The economy is dependent on tourism, which contributed 45 percent of GDP in 1999. About 350,000 tourists, mostly Americans, visit the islands each year. Reforms enacted in 1997 have made the region a haven for international insurance companies, and some 200,000 insurance companies are registered in the islands because of their low incorporation fees and liberal insurance regulations. Agriculture accounts for 1.8 percent of GDP, while industry, mainly construction, accounts for 6.2 percent, and services account for 92 percent. The nation uses the American dollar as its official currency and its main trade partners are Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the United States. The nation receives about US$3 million per year in economic aid, mainly from the United Kingdom.

The Cayman Islands were part of Jamaica until 1962. When Jamaica became independent, the Cayman Islands decided to remain part of the United Kingdom. The Islands are located in the Caribbean between Cuba and Central America. There are 3 main islands that have a total area of 259 square kilometers (100 square miles). Unlike the other territories, the Cayman Islands have an appointed governor who acts as the head of government. The islands have no direct taxation and, as a result, have become a major center for international companies and banks. In 1999, the islands had 600 international banks and over 44,000 corporations. Nonetheless, tourism provides 70 percent of GDP. Total GDP in 1997 was US$930 million and per capita GDP was US$24,500. The Cayman's main trading partners are the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan. The territory has its own currency, the Caymanian dollar, which in 1999 had an exchange rate of 1 Caymanian dollar to 0.89 U.S. dollars.

The Turks and Caicos Islands were under the jurisdiction of Jamaica until that colony became independent in 1962. The islands were then administered by the British governor of the Bahamas. Full independence for the Turks and Caicos was set for 1982, but popular pressure led to the Territories remaining part of the United Kingdom. The Territory consists of 30 small islands with a total area of 430 square kilometers (166 square miles). In 2001, their population was 18,122. The Turks and Caicos had a GDP of US$128 million in 1999. Its GDP per capita was US$7,300. Tourism is the dominant factor in the economy, although government employs about one-third of the population. In 1998, 93,000 tourists visited the islands. Most of these were Americans. The Territory uses the American dollar as its currency and the United States and the United Kingdom are its main trade partners. The Turks and Caicos receive about US$6 million annually in foreign aid, most of it from the United Kingdom.


Darian-Smith, Eve. Bridging Divides: The Channel Tunnel and English Legal Identity in the New Europe. Berkeley: University of California, 1999.

Holden, Ken, Kent Mathews, and John Thompson. The UK Economy Today. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995.

Gowland, David, and Arthur Turner. Reluctant Europeans: Britain and European Integration, 1945-1998. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Lowe, Rodney. The Welfare State in Britain Since 1945 . New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Middleton, Roger. The British Economy Since 1945: Engaging With the Debate . New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000: United Kingdom. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/uk.html> . Accessed February 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: United Kingdom. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/index.cfm?docid=3846> . Accessed February 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2000 Country Commercial Guide: United Kingdom. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2000/europe/index.html> . Accessed February 2001.

U.S. Department of State. The United Kingdom: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 1999. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/1999/index.cfm?docid=368> . Accessed February 2001.

—Tom Lansford




Pound sterling (£). One pound equals 100 pence. Coins are in denominations of £2 and 1, as well as 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 pence. Currency comes in denominations of £50, 20, 10, and 5.


Manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, food, beverages, and tobacco.


Manufactured goods, machinery, fuels, and foodstuffs.


US$1.36 trillion (2000 est.).


Exports: US$282 billion (2000 est.). Imports: US$324 billion (2000 est.).

User Contributions:

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Mar 5, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
What is the textile and apparel marketing industry like in the United kingdom in 2011?
Mira Soheir
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Apr 25, 2011 @ 5:05 am
please I need more data about religion,more precisely about wether the anglican church was the main reason that led to the accurate relationship between UK and Europe in terms of religion? thank you
Bou Da
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Nov 30, 2011 @ 9:21 pm
I would like to know about the total land of English? how many kilometers are there?
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Apr 5, 2014 @ 3:03 am
Agreed. They should try entering into emerging markets like China so that they cater to the masses and the population is also in a huge amount. The GDP growth of China is more than double as compared to US because of their population size of the economy.
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Jan 25, 2016 @ 10:22 pm
This article is SO informational! i care about sweet tea and the south and its culture y'all
Brian Pickrell
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Jun 28, 2016 @ 6:06 am
The population density at the moment is 410 people for every square kilometer of England ,obtained by dividing the population of 53.75 million by the area of 0.130580 square kilometers . This is the number one problem of England. since we cannot feed ourselves in England as we have to import over 30% of the food we eat . The second problem we have is that the road system is overloaded by too many vehicles ,the rail system has too many passengers ,the housing system is collapsing do to excessive demand and higher prices and a growing number of people cannot now afford to pay for rented property and have nowhere else to go . Lastly the NHS has now long waiting lists for people awaiting operations .All of the above caused by chronic over population of the country we can now no longer support the EU because we have now no control of our borders. Note :- Existing figures for Germany and French density are 230 and 114 . The EU does not understand the problem for England .

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