The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, commonly known as United Kingdom or UK or Britain or England, is a unitary state with a constitutional monarchy. It comprises of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is known as the home of both modern parliamentary democracy and the industrial revolution.
The UK has sovereignty over 17 territories which do not form part of the United Kingdom. These include –
- 14 British Overseas Territories, and
- 3 Crown Dependencies
The 14 British Overseas Territories are Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos Islands, Pitcairn Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and Akrotiri & Dhekelia on the island of Cyprus.
The 3 Crown Dependencies are Channel Island of Jersey and Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
The UK has an advanced capitalist economy, which is largely private, apart from a few sectors such as health and education. The capital, London, is one of the world’s leading cultural and commercial centers. Being one of the world’s foremost cities, together with its world-leading industries in finance, commerce, marketing, technology, music and the arts, it has attracted investors from around the globe. What adds to its attractiveness amongst investors is its apt geographical location between different time zones, its cosmopolitan identity and the fact that it is English-speaking.
British culture has its roots in the United Kingdom’s rich history, the people and the four countries England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – each of which have given their own unique traditions and customs.
Public healthcare is free in the UK. The whole population is covered by the National Health System (NHS), which is financed through general taxation and run by the Department of Health. Despite this coverage, there is an increasing trend towards private care and coverage.
Hosting about 422,000 international students, UK is the world’s second leading study destination after the US.
In the UK, schools are either state schools funded by the government and free for all pupils, or they are independent schools charging fees. Independent schools in the UK have an excellent reputation for high standards of teaching and learning. There are also many excellent state schools.
An impressive 76 UK Universities feature in the “QS World University Rankings 2019”, with 4 being in the top 10 – University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College of London and University College London (UCL). The strength of all UK universities has led to the country being ranked second in the “QS Higher Education System Strength Ranking 2018”.
Though it is culturally diverse, UK has lately been struggling with issues revolving around multi culturalism, immigration and national identity. Lately, there has been considerable debate about immigration. While some have advocated tough policies for limiting immigration, others have argued for its positive impact on the country. A recent trend in UK immigration has been arrival of workers in large numbers from the EU member countries in Eastern Europe, which has played a major role in driving the campaign to leave the European Union (EU).
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