[Country map of United Kingdom]

United Kingdom


Location: Western Europe, islands including the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, northwest of France

Map references: Europe

total area: 244,820 sq km
land area: 241,590 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Oregon
note: includes Rockall and Shetland Islands

Land boundaries: total 360 km, Ireland 360 km

Coastline: 12,429 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: as defined in continental shelf orders or in accordance with agreed upon boundaries
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: Northern Ireland question with Ireland; Gibraltar question with Spain; Argentina claims Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas); Argentina claims South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Mauritius claims island of Diego Garcia in British Indian Ocean Territory; Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark, Iceland, and Ireland (Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area); territorial claim in Antarctica (British Antarctic Territory)

Climate: temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than half of the days are overcast

Terrain: mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast

Natural resources: coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, silica

Land use:
arable land: 29%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 48%
forest and woodland: 9%
other: 14%

Irrigated land: 1,570 sq km (1989)

current issues: sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants contribute to air pollution; some rivers polluted by agricultural wastes and coastal waters polluted because of large-scale disposal of sewage at sea
natural hazards: NA
international agreements: party to - Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Desertification

Note: lies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from France and now linked by tunnel under the English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters


Population: 58,295,119 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 19% (female 5,572,189; male 5,843,192)
15-64 years: 65% (female 18,723,583; male 18,935,931)
65 years and over: 16% (female 5,471,383; male 3,748,841) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.27% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 13.18 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 10.66 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.17 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 7 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77 years
male: 74.18 years
female: 79.95 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.82 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Briton(s), British (collective plural)
adjective: British

Ethnic divisions: English 81.5%, Scottish 9.6%, Irish 2.4%, Welsh 1.9%, Ulster 1.8%, West Indian, Indian, Pakistani, and other 2.8%

Religions: Anglican 27 million, Roman Catholic 9 million, Muslim 1 million, Presbyterian 800,000, Methodist 760,000, Sikh 400,000, Hindu 350,000, Jewish 300,000 (1991 est.)
note: the UK does not include a question on religion in its census

Languages: English, Welsh (about 26% of the population of Wales), Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland)

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1991 est.)
total population: 99%

Labor force: 28.048 million
by occupation: services 62.8%, manufacturing and construction 25.0%, government 9.1%, energy 1.9%, agriculture 1.2% (June 1992)


conventional long form: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
conventional short form: United Kingdom

Abbreviation: UK

Digraph: UK

Type: constitutional monarchy

Capital: London

Administrative divisions: 47 counties, 7 metropolitan counties, 26 districts, 9 regions, and 3 islands areas
England: 39 counties, 7 metropolitan counties*; Avon, Bedford, Berkshire, Buckingham, Cambridge, Cheshire, Cleveland, Cornwall, Cumbria, Derby, Devon, Dorset, Durham, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucester, Greater London*, Greater Manchester*, Hampshire, Hereford and Worcester, Hertford, Humberside, Isle of Wight, Kent, Lancashire, Leicester, Lincoln, Merseyside*, Norfolk, Northampton, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Nottingham, Oxford, Shropshire, Somerset, South Yorkshire*, Stafford, Suffolk, Surrey, Tyne and Wear*, Warwick, West Midlands*, West Sussex, West Yorkshire*, Wiltshire
Northern Ireland: 26 districts; Antrim, Ards, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Belfast, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Coleraine, Cookstown, Craigavon, Down, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Larne, Limavady, Lisburn, Londonderry, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newry and Mourne, Newtownabbey, North Down, Omagh, Strabane
Scotland: 9 regions, 3 islands areas*; Borders, Central, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Grampian, Highland, Lothian, Orkney*, Shetland*, Strathclyde, Tayside, Western Isles*
Wales: 8 counties; Clwyd, Dyfed, Gwent, Gwynedd, Mid Glamorgan, Powys, South Glamorgan, West Glamorgan

Dependent areas: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Hong Kong (scheduled to become a Special Administrative Region of China on 1 July 1997), Jersey, Isle of Man, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands

Independence: 1 January 1801 (United Kingdom established)

National holiday: Celebration of the Birthday of the Queen (second Saturday in June)

Constitution: unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice

Legal system: common law tradition with early Roman and modern continental influences; no judicial review of Acts of Parliament; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); Heir Apparent Prince CHARLES (son of the Queen, born 14 November 1948)
head of government: Prime Minister John MAJOR (since 28 November 1990)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament
House of Lords: consists of a 1,200-member body, four-fifths are hereditary peers, 2 archbishops, 24 other senior bishops, serving and retired Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, other life peers, Scottish peers
House of Commons: elections last held 9 April 1992 (next to be held by NA April 1997); results - Conservative 41.9%, Labor 34.5%, Liberal Democratic 17.9%, other 5.7%; seats - (651 total) Conservative 336, Labor 271, Liberal Democratic 20, other 24

Judicial branch: House of Lords

Political parties and leaders: Conservative and Unionist Party, John MAJOR; Labor Party, Anthony (Tony) Blair; Liberal Democrats (LD), Jeremy (Paddy) ASHDOWN; Scottish National Party, Alex SALMOND; Welsh National Party (Plaid Cymru), Dafydd Iwan WIGLEY; Ulster Unionist Party (Northern Ireland), James MOLYNEAUX; Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland), Rev. Ian PAISLEY; Ulster Popular Unionist Party (Northern Ireland); Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP, Northern Ireland), John HUME; Sinn Fein (Northern Ireland), Gerry ADAMS

Other political or pressure groups: Trades Union Congress; Confederation of British Industry; National Farmers' Union; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Sir Robin William RENWICK
chancery: 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 462-1340
FAX: [1] (202) 898-4255
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco,
consulate(s): Dallas, Miami, and Seattle

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Adm. William W. CROWE
embassy: 24/31 Grosvenor Square, London, W. 1A1AE
mailing address: PSC 801, Box 40, FPO AE 09498-4040
telephone: [44] (71) 499-9000
FAX: [44] (71) 409-1637
consulate(s) general: Belfast, Edinburgh

Flag: blue with the red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England) edged in white superimposed on the diagonal red cross of Saint Patrick (patron saint of Ireland) which is superimposed on the diagonal white cross of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland); known as the Union Flag or Union Jack; the design and colors (especially the Blue Ensign) have been the basis for a number of other flags including dependencies, Commonwealth countries, and others


Overview: The UK is one of the world's great trading powers and financial centers, and its economy ranks among the four largest in Western Europe. The economy is essentially capitalistic; over the past 13 years the ruling Tories have greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves, and primary energy production accounts for 12% of GDP, one of the highest shares of any industrial nation. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance, now employing only 25% of the work force and generating only 21% of GDP. The economy registered 4.2% GDP growth in 1994, its fastest annual rate for six years. Exports and manufacturing output are the primary engines of growth. Unemployment is gradually falling. Inflation is at the lowest level in 27 years, but British monetary authorities raised interest rates to 6.25% in 1994 in a preemptive strike on emerging inflationary pressures such as higher taxes and rising manufacturing costs. The combination of a buoyant economy and fiscal tightening is projected to trim the FY94/95 budget shortfall to about $50 billion - down from about $75 billion in FY93/94. The major economic policy question for Britain in the 1990s is the terms on which it participates in the financial and economic integration of Europe.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $1.0452 trillion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 4.2% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $17,980 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.4% (1994)

Unemployment rate: 9.3% (1994)

revenues: $325.5 billion
expenditures: $400.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $33 billion (FY93/94 est.)

Exports: $200 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: manufactured goods, machinery, fuels, chemicals, semifinished goods, transport equipment
partners: EU countries 56.7% (Germany 14.0%, France 11.1%, Netherlands 7.9%), US 10.9%

Imports: $215 billion (c.i.f., 1994 est.)
commodities: manufactured goods, machinery, semifinished goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods
partners: EU countries 51.7% (Germany 14.9%, France 9.3%, Netherlands 8.4%), US 11.6%

External debt: $16.2 billion (June 1992)

Industrial production: growth rate 5.6% (1994)

capacity: 65,360,000 kW
production: 303 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 5,123 kWh (1993)

Industries: production machinery including machine tools, electric power equipment, automation equipment, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, electronics and communications equipment, metals, chemicals, coal, petroleum, paper and paper products, food processing, textiles, clothing, and other consumer goods

Agriculture: accounts for only 1.5% of GDP; wide variety of crops and livestock products

Illicit drugs: gateway country for Latin American cocaine entering the European market; producer of synthetic drugs; transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin; money-laundering center

Economic aid:
donor: ODA and OOF commitments (1992-93), $3.2 billion

Currency: 1 British pound (#) = 100 pence

Exchange rates: British pounds (#) per US$1 - 0.6350 (January 1995), 0.6529 (1994), 0.6033 (1993), 0.5664 (1992), 0.5652 (1991), 0.5603 (1990)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


total: 16,888 km; note - several additional small standard-gauge and narrow-gauge lines are privately owned and operated
broad gauge: 330 km 1.600-m gauge (190 km double track)
standard gauge: 16,558 km 1.435-m gauge (4,950 km electrified; 12,591 km double or multiple track)

total: 360,047 km (includes Northern Ireland)
paved: 360,047 km (includes Northern Ireland; Great Britain has 3,100 km limited access divided highway)

Inland waterways: 2,291 total; British Waterways Board, 606 km; Port Authorities, 706 km; other, 979 km

Pipelines: crude oil (almost all insignificant) 933 km; petroleum products 2,993 km; natural gas 12,800 km

Ports: Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Grangemouth, Hull, Leith, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Medway, Sullom Voe, Tees, Tyne

Merchant marine:
total: 155 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 3,249,823 GRT/3,978,336 DWT
ships by type: bulk 11, cargo 24, chemical tanker 2, container 23, liquefied gas tanker 3, oil tanker 56, passenger 7, passenger-cargo 1, refrigerated cargo 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 13, short-sea passenger 13, specialized tanker 1

total: 505
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 10
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 30
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 174
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 91
with paved runways under 914 m: 172
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 27


Telephone system: 30,200,000 telephones; technologically advanced domestic and international system
local: NA
intercity: NA equal mix of buried cables, microwave and optical-fiber systems
international: 40 coaxial submarine cables; 10 INTELSAT (7 Atlantic Ocean and 3 Indian Ocean), 1 INMARSAT, and 1 EUTELSAT earth satellite; at least 8 large international switching centers

broadcast stations: AM 225, FM 525 (mostly repeaters), shortwave 0
radios: 70 million

broadcast stations: 207 (repeaters 3,210)
televisions: 20 million

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Royal Navy (includes Royal Marines), Royal Air Force

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 14,429,485; males fit for military service 12,041,935 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $35.1 billion, 3.1% of GDP (FY95/96)