ISO Code: UK
Dialing Code: +44
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, abbreviated: UK, is bordered on the south by the English Channel, which separates it from the continent of Europe, on the east by the North Sea, and on the west by the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The United Kingdom consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The capital city of England and the largest city in the UK is London, the capital of Scotland is Edinburgh, Cardiff is the capital of Wales and Belfast the capital of Northern Ireland. Other important cities in the United Kingdom include the second largest city Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and the port city of South Hampton.
Several islands are also included in the United Kingdom including the Isle of Wight, lying off the southern coast of England; Anglesey, which lies off the northwest coast of Wales; Isles of Scilly in the English Channel; the Orkney Islands north of Scotland; the Hebrides archipelago west of Scotland; and the Shetland Islands further north of Scotland. The United Kingdom also has several dependencies associated with it such as the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea and the Channel Islands off France. These dependencies are not a part of the United Kingdom but maintain a special relationship with it. Britain also has dependent territories that are scattered throughout the world and are the remains of the former British Empire.
The official language through out the United Kingdom is English however in Scotland Gaelic is also spoken, in Wales, Welsh is also spoken and in Ireland Irish is also spoken. There are people from many nations residing in England and so many native languages are spoken, however these tend to be in small communities.
The United Kingdom is the world’s fourth-largest economy and joined the European Union (EU) in 1973, but has no plans to join the common European currency, the euro, in the immediate future. The pound sterling can be used across the United Kingdom but Scottish banks also issue their own banknotes (which are generally accepted in England) and in Northern Ireland you can use the Irish pound (punt).
The UK has seen growth rates decline in 2001 and GDP growth is expected to decline to 2% in 2001, and will decline further still if the economy of the United States approaches a mild recession, as the UK economy is the second-closest linked to that of the United States of all the countries of the EU. The Bank of England has cut interest rates four times in 2001, most recently in August.
The United Kingdom has a 2001 estimated population of 59,647,790, with an average population density of 244 persons per sq km, which makes the UK one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
The UK is the largest petroleum producer and exporter in the European Union, the largest producer and an important exporter of natural gas in the EU. Most of the UK’s oil and gas reserves and production occur off the coast of Scotland. The oil and gas industry represented about 12% of industrial capital investment, and 2% of total capital investment in 2000. The energy industry overall represents about 4% of GDP.
The North Sea expects few large new oil field discoveries to be made and because major UK energy companies are private, the possible decline in British oil and gas production could mean that major oil companies could start oil exploration in other world regions.
There are over 100 oil and gas fields currently onstream in the North Sea, and several hundred companies are active in the area. In 2000, the United Kingdom’s production declined to 2.75 million barrels per day (bbl/d) and production is expected to decline by 85,000 bbl/d in 2001.
The UK contains an estimated 26.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, most of which are in non-associated gas fields located off the English coast in the Southern Gas Basin, adjacent to the Dutch North Sea sector.
The United Kingdom (UK) is not a major mining country. Most of the UK’s land based mineral production is restricted to industrial minerals. At one time the UK used to be a dominant coal and tin producer from operations in England and Scotland. Mine production of ferrous and nonferrous minerals has been declining for the past 20 years as reserves have become depleted. However, as minerals processing has become an important part of the economy, the UK now imports its raw materials to satisfy its metallurgical needs The UK has limited precious and base metals potential, but Scotland has shown potential to host some small scale gold and silver deposits.
The UK produced minor amounts of hematite, mined by the Egremont Mining Co. at the Florence Mine in Cumbria. Primary steel production was based on imported iron ore, mainly from Australia and Brazil.
Coal production and consumption in the United Kingdom has decreased dramatically since 1986 when production fell from 119 million short tons to 40.9 million short tons in 1999. In 2000 production fell again and demand increased which in turn increased imports. Coal is the most valuable resource of Wales, and is mined mainly in the south. Some high-grade anthracite is also found here.
The United Kingdom has an important manufacturing industry, whereby the country imports much of its needed raw materials and manufactures them to sell them as exports. Britain has a large car manufacturing industry, however it is subject to much foreign competition. The country also has a large kitchen appliance manufacturing industry, fiber optics, computers, computer-controlled machine tools, and robot manufacturing sectors. Scotland is a major producer of computers.
The United Kingdom has a highly sophisticated and developed service industry.
The international time zone is GMT and the international dialing code is +44. Getting to and from the United Kingdom is an easy task, with London being one of the world’s most important air-transport hubs. There are five international airports servicing London, namely, Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and London City, with international connections to Manchester, Newcastle and Bristol. There is also now a land link under the English Channel connecting the United Kingdom and Europe, consisting of a passenger service train, the Eurostar and a high-speed shuttle service for cars, buses and motorbikes. The transport system in the United Kingdom is also highly sophisticated with flight routes, rail links and an excellent road transport system. EU citizens may live and work free of any immigration controls. Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand are generally allowed to stay six months on a holiday visa.