Anthony Charles Lynton Blair
(pronounced "AN-thah-nee CHAR-els LIN-ton BLARE")
"The progressive parties of today are the parties of fiscal responsibility and prudence."
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as it is officially called, is situated across the English Channel in northwest Europe and is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom (UK) has a total area of 244,820 sq km (94,525 sq mi) and an estimated population of 59.8 million in 2002. England, accounting for half the total area, is the political and economic center of the United Kingdom. With 83% of the total British population, England is one of the most urbanized and densely populated regions in Europe. Scotland accounts for 9% of the population while Wales and Northern Ireland together only account for 8%. London, located on the Thames River in Southeast England, is the capital of the United Kingdom and its largest city, with 7.6 million inhabitants. Regional capitals are Edinburgh, Scotland; Cardiff, Wales; and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The four regions of the United Kingdom have distinct ethnic and cultural identities. While English is the official and predominant language, Gaelic is spoken in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Welsh is spoken in parts of Wales. There are two established churches, the larger Church of England (Anglican) and the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian). Other practiced religions include Roman Catholicism, Methodist, and Islam. Since the 1950s and 1960s, a greater influx of immigrants from former British colonies—primarily from India, Pakistan, and the Caribbean/West Indies—have expanded the cultural and ethnic diversity of the British Isles. The inflow and concentration of nonwhite immigrants in urban centers have occasionally resulted in the swelling of racial tensions. About 5% of the current population is nonwhite.
The United Kingdom has one of the larger economies in Europe and has had average annual growth rates estimated at1.6% in 2002. The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $25,300 in 2002. The Unemployment in 2002 was up to 5.2%, from 4% in 1998 (which was the lowest rate in 20 years). A majority of the labor force is engaged in the service sector of the economy (74%) while a smaller proportion of workers are engaged in manufacturing and construction (25%). Women comprise 49% of the labor force and are concentrated in retail, clerical, and human services. Major exports include machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum, and manufactured goods. Major imports include foodstuffs, machinery, manufactured goods, and consumer goods. The United Kingdom's major trading partners are other West European countries as well as the United States. The British unit of currency is the British pound .
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