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Geography | Climate | Population | Historical outline | Society and culture
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What is its correct Name of U.K?

· Full Name: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

· Also known as: The UK or Britain

· Parts of the UK: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The British Isles : The largest island, Great Britain, comprises England, Wales and Scotland. The second largest comprises Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic (a separate country).

Small islands off the coast include the Isle of Wight, Angelsey, the Orkney and Shetland islands and the Hebrides

1. Geography

- Land area: 243,000 sq km (93,000 sq miles)

- Length: Just under 1,000 km (600 miles) from North to South

- Highest mountain: Ben Nevis in Scotland, at 1,343m (4,406 ft)

- Longest river: the Severn, 354 km (220 miles) long, which rises in Wales and flows to the   Bristol Channel

- Closest point to the European mainland: Dover, Kent.
  The Channel separating Britain and France is 38 km (24 miles) wide at this point. The Channel   Tunnel between Britain and France is just over 50 km(31 miles) long.

- Brief description : South and east mainly low lying farmland. North more mountainous with   lower population density.

- The United Kingdom includes Great Britain(England,Scotland and Wales)and Northern   Ireland,and lies off the north-west coast of mainland Europe. The UK is 500km wide and   nearly 1,000km long. Its closest continental neighbours are France and Belgium.

- It lies between latitudes 50C North and 60C North. London, the capital, is close to the same   line of latitude as Berlin, Vancouver and Warsaw. Great Britain is the largest island in Europe   and  the eighth largest in the world. It is about the same size as Honshu, the biggest of the   islands  that make up Japan, and about twice the size of Iceland or Cuba.
  Although it is as dose to the North Pole as eastern Siberia, the United Kingdom has a milder  climate. While the British climate is changeable, temperatures rarely fall below -10C(14F) or go  above 32C(90F). Rainfall is fairly well distributed throughout the year. The wettest parts are the  mountainous areas of the west and north. Britain is a densely populated and industrialised  nation, but much of the country is under cultivation and about 15.6% of England is covered by  National Parks and other countryside conservation areas. The comparable figure for Wales is  4%, Scotland 13%, and Northern Ireland 20%.

2. Climate

The UK lies roughly 1400 km (900 miles) further north than Korea, but the surrounding sea keeps the climate mild and temperate. South-west winds blowing from the Atlantic Ocean bring rain and frequent weather changes.

- Average January temperature: 4.1Cº

- Average July temperature: 16.4Cº

- Average annual rainfall: Over 1600mm (60 inches) in the mountainous north and east. Less than 800mm (30 inches) in the centre and east.

- Rain is well distributed throughout the year but, on average, March to June are the driest months and September to January the wettest.

- Temperature chart: Average monthly Temperatures in Central England, 1881-1910 and 1968-1997(Degrees Celsius)

























































* Source : Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research

3. Population

- Population:58.8 million (2001). England has the highest population density and Scotland the lowest.

Area and Population of the Four Countries of the United Kingdom, 2001


Area**(sq km)


Population density
(people per sq km)













Northern Ireland




United Kingdom




*Source : Office for National Statistics
**Including inland water, with some exceptions in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

- Ethnic/Cultural mix: People from overseas have settled in Britain for centuries. In a 1991 census just over 3 million described themselves as belonging to minority ethnic groups. They include immigrants from the Caribbean and the South Asian subcontinent, many parts of Europe and Africa.

- Orkney and Shetland islands and the Hebrides.

4. Historical outline

 'Britain' derives from Greek and Latin names which probably stem from a Celtic original. Although in the prehistoric timescale the Celts were relatively late arrivals in the British Isles, only with them does Britain emerge into recorded history. The term 'Celtic' is often used rather generally to distinguish the early inhabitants of the British Isles from the later Anglo-Saxon invaders.

After two expeditions by Julius Caesar in 55 and 54 BC, contact between Britain and the Roman world grew, culminating in the Roman invasion of AD 43. Roman rule, which lasted till about 409, was gradually extended from south-east England to include Wales and, for a time, the lowlands of Scotland.

England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Channel Islands and Isle of Man


When the Romans finally withdrew from Britain, the lowland regions were invaded and settled by
Angles, Saxons and Jutes (tribes from what is now north-western Germany). England takes its name from the first of these. To begin with, the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were fairly small and numerous, but as time went on they formed themselves into fewer but larger areas of control. Eventually the southern kingdom of Wessex came to dominate, mainly because it played a leading role in resisting the Viking invasions of the 9th century. Athelstan (who reigned from 924 to 939) used the title of 'King of all Britain', and from 954 there was a single kingdom of England.

In 1066 the last successful invasion of England took place. Duke William of Normandy defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings and became King William I, known as 'William the Conqueror'. Many Normans and others from France came to settle; French became the language of the ruling classes for the next three centuries; and the legal and social structures were influenced by those in force across the Channel.
When Henry II, originally from Anjou, was king (1154-89), his 'Angevin empire' stretched from the river Tweed on the Scottish border, through much of France to the Pyrenees. However, almost all of the English Crown's possessions in France were finally lost during the late Middle Ages.

In 1215 a group of barons demanded a charter of liberties as a safeguard against the seemingly arbitrary behaviour of King John. The rebels captured London and the King agreed to negotiate. He eventually attached his seal to a document containing their demands and the resulting formal royal grant became known as the Magna Carta. Among other things, the charter promised that 'To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice'. It stablished the important constitutional principle that the power of the king could be limited.

The Civil War that broke out in England in 1642, and which resulted in the capture and eventual execution of Charles I, brought about a lasting change in the balance of power between monarch and Parliament. A leading statesman at this time was Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) who, as Lord Protector from late 1653 until his death, had supreme legislative and executive power in association with Parliament and the Council of State during the interregnum before Charles II ascended the throne, restoring the monarchy.

Parliamentary reform was a recurrent issue in the 18th and 19th centuries. The 1832 Reform Act began the process of dismantling the old parliamentary system and extending the franchise, while the Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884 gave the vote to a gradually wider section of the population. During the 20th century, the Representation of the People Acts took the process still further. In 1918, women over the age of 30 were enfranchised and in 1928 the Equal Franchise Act lowered the voting age for women to 21. Universal suffrage for all eligible people over 18 was
granted in 1969.

Northern Ireland

Henry II of England invaded Ireland in 1169. He had been made the country's overlord by the English Pope Adrian IV, who wanted the Irish Church to be fully obedient to Rome. Although Anglo-Norman noblemen controlled part of the country during the Middle Ages, little direct authority came from England.

The Tudor monarchs tended to intervene in Ireland far more, and during the reign of Elizabeth I there were several attempts to deal with rebellion. The northern province of Ulster was particularly subject to unrest, but in 1607, after the rebel leaders had been defeated and had fled, Protestant immigrants went to settle there from Scotland and England.

The English civil wars (1642-51) coincided with further uprisings in Ireland, which Oliver Cromwell suppressed. More fighting took place after the overthrow of King James II, a Roman Catholic, in 1688. At the Battle of the Boyne (1690) the Protestant William of Orange (later King William III) defeated the forces of James II who was trying to regain the English throne from his power base in Ireland.

In 1782 the Government in London gave the Irish Parliament power to legislate on Irish affairs. This Parliament, however, represented only the Anglo-Irish minority. Following the unsuccessful
rebellion of Wolfe Tone's United Irishmen movement in 1798, Great Britain took back control of Ireland under the 1800 Act of Union. The Irish Parliament was abolished in 1801 and Irish interests were represented by members sitting in both Houses of the Westminster Parliament.

The question of 'Home Rule' for Ireland remained one of the major issues of British politics. By 1910 the Liberal Government in London depended for its political survival on support from the Irish Parliamentary Party. The conflict deepened as some unionists and nationalists in Ireland formed private armies. In 1914 Home Rule was approved in the Government of Ireland Act but mplementation was suspended because of the First World War.

In 1916 a nationalist uprising in Dublin was put down and its leaders executed. Two years later the nationalist Sinn Fein party won a large majority of the Irish seats in the General Election to the Westminster Parliament. Its members refused to attend the House of Commons and instead formed their own assembly - the Dail Eireann - in Dublin and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) began operations against the British administration in 1919.

In 1920 a new Government of Ireland Act provided for separate Parliaments in Northern and Southern Ireland, subordinate to Westminster. The Act was implemented in Northern Ireland in 1921, giving six of the nine counties of the province of Ulster their own Parliament with powers to
manage internal affairs. However, the Act proved unacceptable in the South and the 26 counties of Southern Ireland eventually left the UK in 1922.

From 1921 until 1972 Northern Ireland had its own Parliament in which the unionists, primarily representing the Protestant community, held a permanent majority and formed the regional government. The nationalist minority was effectively excluded from political office and influence.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the civil rights movement and reactions to it resulted in serious
inter-communal rioting, leading to the British Army being sent in to help the police keep law and order in 1969.

In 1972, when terrorism and violence reached its peak, the British Government decided to take back direct responsibility for law and order. The Northern Ireland Unionist Government resigned in protest, the regional government was abolished and direct rule from Westminster began; this was to last until devolved powers were given back to a Northern Ireland Assembly in December 1999.


Evidence of human settlement in what is now known as Scotland dates from around the third millennium BC. By the time the Romans invaded Britain, many tribes were living in the region, but despite a number of attempts to control them, Roman rule never permanently extended to most of Scotland. In the sixth century, the Scots, a Celtic people from Ireland, settled on the north-west coast of the island of Great Britain, giving their name to the present-day Scotland.

The kingdoms of England and Scotland were frequently at war during the Middle Ages.When King Edward I tried to impose direct English rule over Scotland in 1296, a revolt for independence
broke out, which ended in 1328 when King Edward III recognised its leader, Robert the Bruce, as
King Robert I of Scotland.

In 1603 Queen Elizabeth I of England, who never married and had no children of her own, was succeeded by her nearest heir, King James VI of Scotland. He became King James I of England
and so united the English and Scottish crowns in one person.

In 1745 Charles Edward Stuart (also known as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' or 'The Young Pretender')
attempted to retake the British throne for the Stuarts. Landing in the Hebrides, he went on to Edinburgh, defeating government forces at Prestonpans. He advanced southwards into England, capturing Carlisle, but was turned back at Derby and eventually defeated at the Battle of Culloden, north-east of Inverness, in April 1746.

Politically, England and Scotland remained separate during the 17th century, apart from a period of union forced on them by Oliver Cromwell in the 1650s. It was not until 1707 that the English and Scottish Parliaments agreed on a single Parliament for Great Britain to sit at Westminster in London. Nearly 300 years later, in July 1999, devolution meant that power to administer Scottish affairs was returned to a new Scottish Parliament.


Wales remained a Celtic stronghold ruled by sovereign princes under the influence of England after the Romans had left Britain. In 1282 King Edward I brought Wales under English rule and the
castles he built in the north remain among the UK's finest historic monuments. Edward I's eldest
son - later King Edward II - was born at Caernarfon in 1284 and was created the first English Prince of Wales in 1301. The eldest son of the reigning monarch continues to bear this title, Prince Charles being made Prince of Wales in 1969.

At the beginning of the 15th century,Welsh resentment of unjust English laws and administration, and widespread economic discontent, resulted in the nationalist leader Owain Glynd ? wr heading an unsuccessful revolt against the English. From 1485 to 1603 the Tudor dynasty, which
was of Welsh ancestry, ruled England and it was during this time that the Acts of Union (1536 and 1542) united England and Wales administratively, politically and legally.

This situation prevailed until July 1999, when devolution gave the National Assembly for Wales specific powers to make secondary legislation to meet distinctive Welsh needs.

Channel Islands and Isle of Man

The Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark being the largest in the group) were
part of the Duchy of Normandy in the 10th and 11th centuries and remained subject to the English Crown after the loss of mainland Normandy to the French in 1204. The Isle of Man was under the nominal sovereignty of Norway until 1266, and eventually came under the direct administration of the British Crown in 1765, when it was bought for 70,000. Its parliament, Tynwald, was established more than 1,000 years ago and is the oldest legislature in continuous existence in the world.

Today these territories have their own legislative assemblies and systems of law, and their own
taxation systems. The UK Government is responsible for their international relations and external

The UK is one of the 15 Member States of the European Union (EU - see page 59) but the Channel Islands and Isle of Man are neither EU Member States in their own right nor part of the UK Member State. Broadly speaking, EU rules on the free movement of goods and the Common Agricultural Policy apply to the Islands, but not those on the free movement of services or persons. Islanders benefit from the provision for free movement of persons only if they have close ties with the UK.

5. Society and Culture

Religion | Housing | ART | Cultural events | Major events | Royalty/ Queen

1) Religion

The United Kingdom is a multifaith society in which everyone has the right to religious freedom. Religious organisations and groups may conduct their rites and ceremonies, promote their beliefs within the limits of the law, own property, and run schools and a range of other charitable

Although religious faith in the UK is predominantly Christian, most of the worlds religions are practised. There are large Hindu, Jewish,Muslim and Sikh communities, and also smaller communities of Bah  , Buddhists, Jains, and Zoroastrians, as well as followers of new religious movements. On the other hand, many people do not practise any religion and some reject all forms of religious belief. Organisations such as the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society represent some of the latter views.

Belonging to a religion, Great Britain, 2001



Church of England / Anglican


Other Christian

Other faiths


Refused/did not answer

29 %


14 %

4 %

41 %

1 %

- Respondents were asked  Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?
* Source: British Social Attitudes Survey, National Centre for Social Research

Religious traditions in the UK

A distinction is often drawn between  community size  and  active membership : the former represents identification with a religion, or a religious ethic, in the broadest sense, and the latter a much closer association. There are an estimated 7.9 million active adult members of religious groups in the UK.Many other people take part in formal religious ceremonies at times of crisis or
to mark significant life events such as birth, marriage and death. The 2001 Census of Population
included, for the first time throughout the UK since 1851, a question on religion.
When the answers to this question have been analysed, they will provide extensive official information on patterns of religious identity in the United Kingdom. In the meantime, Table gives some indication of religious identity in Great Britain.
It suggests that just over half of the population (54 per cent) regard themselves as Christian and 41 per cent regard themselves as belonging to no religion.

Religion and society

The influence of Christianity and other religions in the UK has always extended far beyond the comparatively narrow spheres of organised and private worship. Churches, cathedrals and other
places of worship make a significant contribution to the architectural landscape of the nation.
Religious organisations are actively involved in voluntary work and the provision of social services   many schools and hospitals, for example, were founded by men and women who were strongly influenced by Christianity. Easter and Christmas, the two most important events in
the Christian calendar, are the year s major public holidays. Festivals and other events observed by other religions such as Diwali and Holi (Hindu), the High Holy Days and Passover (Jewish), Ramadan and Eid (Muslim) and Vaisakhi (Sikh)  are adding to the visible diversity of life in the UK today.

2) Housing

Household, by type of dwelling occuipied, UK, 2000/01

The type of dwellings built has changed over the last century. Terraced housing was the norm before the First World War and over a third of the current stock of terraced
housing dates from before 1919. Between 1919 and 1944 there was an expansion in the number of semi-detached
dwellings. After 1965 the private sector began to build more detached houses, while a large number of purpose-built flats were provided in the public sector.

Households, by type of dwelling, UK, 2000/01

(Source: General Household Survey, Office for National Statistics, and Continuous Household Survey, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency)

- Includes converted flats.

Semidetached house (31%)
Terraced house (28%)
Detached house (21%)
Purpose-built flat or maisonette (15%)
Other (4%)

The average dwelling price of properties bought and sold in the United Kingdom in 2001 was 112,835 , although there were marked regional variations with buyers in London and the South East paying the most for their property. Dwelling prices also vary according to type, with detached houses being the most expensive.

The decent home standard

In order to set and monitor progress against its decent social housing target for England, the former Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) established the decent home standard. A decent home is one which:

_ meets the current statutory minimum for housing, which at present is the 'fitness standard';

_ is in a reasonable state of repair;

_ has reasonably modern facilities; and

_ provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort through effective insulation and efficient heating.

Home ownership

Between 1981 and 2001 the number of owneroccupied dwellings in the United Kingdom increased by more than 40 per cent, while the number of rented dwellings fell by around 15 per cent. By 2001 over 17 million dwellings were owner-occupied, more than double the number of rented dwellings, which numbered 8 million.

* Mortgage loans
A feature of home-ownership in the United Kingdom is the relatively high proportion of homes purchased with a mortgage. Approximately three-quarters of house purchases are financed with
a mortgage loan facility. In 2001, 77 per cent of loans for home purchase were obtained through banks and 18 per cent through building societies, with 5 per cent through other lenders.

* Rented housing
As owner-occupation has increased, the number of dwellings that are rented has decreased. In 2001, 21 per cent of UK households were renting from the social sector (local authorities and RSLs), while 10 per cent were renting privately.

Much of the Government's expenditure on social housing is provided as subsidies to local authorities to help pay for the costs of nearly 3.7 million rented council homes in the UK. More than 2,000 housing associations, most of them RSLs, provide other social housing.

Housing stock and housebuilding

In 1951 there were 14 million dwellings in the United Kingdom. By 2001 the number had increased to 25 million. The peak for housebuilding in the UK was in 1968 when total completions amounted to 426,000 dwellings: 226,000 completed by private enterprise and 200,000 by the public sector (primarily local authorities). In 2000/01 there were 178,000 completions in the
UK. While local authorities are no longer major developers of new housing, they still play an important role as landlords. RSLs (predominantly housing associations) dominate building in what is now called the social sector, although in 2000/01 private sector enterprise was responsible for 86 per cent of all dwellings completed.

3) ART

The United Kingdom has a diverse cultural heritage, with many artists and performers having contributed to the development of rich traditions in art, music, drama, literature and, more recently, TV, film and radio. Many people come from abroad to visit the UK for cultural reasons. Collections in the UK's museums and galleries are considered among the best in the world.

Visual arts

* Museums and galleries

Over 77 million visits a year are made to the UK's 1,800 registered museums and galleries which
include the major national museums, about 600 independent museums, 500 receiving support from local authorities, and others supported by universities, the armed services, the National Trust and English Heritage.

In addition to displaying their permanent collections, museums and galleries also stage temporary exhibitions, the largest attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors. The number of museums has expanded considerably since 1980, when there were 800

* Crafts

The Crafts Council is the official organisation for crafts in England. Its objectives include raising the profile of crafts in England and abroad, and strengthening and developing the craft economy in support of craftspeople. The Crafts Council also organises the annual Chelsea Crafts Fair and
other programmes from its London venue; and co-ordinates British groups at international fairs. Craft Forum Wales supports craft business groups in Wales. Craftworks, an independent company, is the craft development agency for Northern Ireland. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland funds crafts promotion. In Scotland, the Scottish Arts Council has a Crafts Department, which promotes crafts and helps craftworkers.

* Architecture and design

The Royal Institute of British Architects, with about 28,000 members, has been promoting and advancing architecture since receiving its Royal Charter in 1837. Better design in the fashion, film, computing and manufacturing industries and in other areas, is supported and encouraged in the UK by the Design Council, an independent organisation working with partners in business, education and government to inspire and enable the effective use of design.

4) Cultural events

* Festivals

Some 500 professional arts festivals take place in the UK each year. Their appeal has broadened - for example, whereas classical music once dominated music festivals, there are now those that offer jazz, folk, pop, rock, world and early music as well. Around 60 festivals concentrate on poetry, and other festivals are devoted to the visual arts, such as the Liverpool Biennial. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with a wide variety of programmes (including street events), takes place alongside the main events. Film festivals include the annual London Film Festival, and newer festivals such as the Leeds Children's Film Festival and the Brief Encounters short film festival in Bristol.

* Arts centres

Over 200 arts centres in the UK give people the chance of seeing a range of art forms and taking part in activities, especially educational projects. Nearly all the centres are professionally managed, but use the services of volunteers. The Pier Arts Centre at Stromness (Orkney) and Dundee Contemporary Arts (which has two galleries, two cinemas, a print studio and activity rooms) are two of the centres supported by the Scottish Arts Council. Centres funded by the Arts Council of Wales include the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff and the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, which helps to promote international artists and collaborations.

Sport is a popular leisure activity. According to the results from the ONS UK 2000 Time Use Survey, about 80 per cent of the population reported doing some type of physical activity in the four weeks prior to the survey. The top three activities reported were walking for at least 2 miles (3.2 km) or 1 hour, by 12 per cent of respondents, swimming (9 per cent) and keep fit (7 per cent).
The time use diaries of participants in the survey showed that more time was spent in sports and physical activities (an average of 16 minutes a day) than in watching sport on television (4 minutes a day).

UK sportsmen and sportswomen hold over 50 world titles in a variety of sports, including athletics, professional boxing, rallying, rowing, sailing, snooker and squash. In 2001 able-bodied UK athletes won 76 medals at world and European championships, while athletes with disabilities won 167 medals at this level.

5) Major events

Many important sporting events are held every year in the UK, including the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, the FA Cup Final, the Open Golf Championship and the Grand National steeplechase. Major events in the UK in 2002 included the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the European Champions League Final at Hampden, Scotland's national football stadium. Among the international events to be staged in the UK in 2003 are the World Indoor Athletics Championships and the World Badminton Championships, both of which will take place in Birmingham.

In the UK athletics incorporates many activities, including track and field events, cross-country and road running, race walking, and fell and hill running. Mass participation events, notably marathons and half marathons, are very popular.
The largest UK marathon is the London Marathon each April, with over 32,000 runners competing
in the 2002 event.
The governing body for the sport is UK Athletics (www.ukathletics.net). It has made successful bids to host major championships, including the World Indoor Championships.

Badminton takes its name from the Duke of Beaufort's country home, Badminton House, where the sport was first played in the 19th century. The game is organised by the Badminton Association of England and the Scottish,Welsh and Irish (Ulster Branch) Badminton Unions. The Badminton Association of England (www.baofe.co.uk) has a coach education system to develop coaches for players of all levels and a development department with a network of parttime county development officers.

Association football is controlled by separate football associations in England,Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In England 314 clubs are affiliated to the Football Association (FA) (www.thefa.com) and about 42,000 clubs to regional or district associations. The FA, founded in 1863, and the Football League (www.footballleague.co.uk), founded in 1888, were both the first of
their kind in the world. In England the FA Premier League comprises 20 clubs. A further 72 professional clubs play in three main divisions run by the Football League.

Rugby union
Rugby union football (a 15-a-side game) originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th century. The sport is played under the auspices of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) (www.rfu.com) in England (the International Rugby Board internationally) and parallel bodies in Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

The modern game of tennis originated in England in 1873 and the first championships were played at Wimbledon in 1877. The governing body for tennis in Great Britain is the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) (www.lta.org.uk), to which Tennis Wales and Tennis Scotland are affiliated. Tennis in Northern Ireland is governed by Tennis Ireland (Ulster Branch).
The Wimbledon Championships, held within the grounds of the All England Club, are one of the four tennis 'Grand Slam' tournaments.

Since 1897 the rules of golf have been administered worldwide (excluding the United States and Mexico) by The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R & A) (www.randa.org), which is situated at St Andrews. Club professional golf is governed by the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) (www.pga.org.uk) and tournament golf by the European PGA Tour and the European Ladies Professional Golfers' Association.
There are over 2,000 golf courses in the UK. The most famous is the Old Course at St Andrews, while others include Royal Lytham and St Anne's, Royal Birkdale and Muirfield (which staged the 2002 Open Championship).

6) Royalty/ Queen

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth II the British Monarchy has adapted to major changes in Britain's position in the world and in British society. The Queen reigned over more that 50 dependencies when she came to the throne in 1952. Most are now independent members of Commonwealth, whose Head is the Queen. Many members of the Commonwealth also recognise her as head of State. Modern forms of transport have made it possible for the Queen to make more overseas visits than any past monarch, while television has brought the royal family much closer to the people, as have meetings with ordinary people in Britain and abroad. At the same time the royal family serves as a reminder of centuries of history and personifies both national and Commonwealth unity.

A  special feature of the monarchy today is the combination of formality and informality. Traditional ceremonies play an important part alongside direct contact with people from all walks of life: 'walkabouts' are a major aspect of royal tours, both in Britain and overseas. Royal jubilees, birthdays and weddings are major ceremonial events which attract large crowds and audiences of hundreds of millions when shown on television.

The development of the role of the monarchy during the Queen's reign is only the most recent example of its long evolution in the light of changing circumstances. The monarchy is the oldest
institution of government in Britain, going back to at least the ninth  century. It existed four centuries before Parliament and three centuries before the law courts. The Queen is directly descended from King Egret, who united England under his rule in 829. There has been only one interruption in the history of the monarchy, during the republic under Oliver Cornwall and his son
Richard (both styled Lord Protector), which lasted from 1649 to 1660.

Despite interruptions in the direct line of succession, the hereditary principle of the monarchy has been preserved. In Anglo-Saxon times kings were elected by the Witan or Council from among the men of the royal family. The elective principle was, in form at least, preserved under the first Norman kings after their conquest of England in 1066, and took the form of 'recognition' by the Commune Concilium, or Common Council the Norman successor to the Witan. Although the hereditary system soon became firmly established, an act of recognition still forms part of the modern coronation service.

For centuries the monarch exercised supreme executive, legislative and judicial power in person. This declined with the development of Parliament and the law courts. The struggle between Crown and Parliament in the seventeenth century led, in 1688-89, to the establishment of a limited constitutional monarchy. However, throughout most of the eighteenth century the monarch continued to wield considerable executive power. By the end of the nineteenth century,
with the establishment of responsible government and the modern party system, the monarch's active role in politics had become minimal.

Government in Britain is responsible in two main ways: ministers are responsible to Parliament as they cannot govern without the support of an elected majority; and they are responsible for the advice they give to the Queen and thus for any action she may take. Political decisions are taken by ministers;the Queen performs the functions of an impartial head of State.

6. Business


The UK, with a population of 59.6 million, is a significant trading country world-wide.  In 2003, the
UK was the fifth largest trading nation behind the US, Germany, Japan and France) with export of
goods and services accounting for 25% of GDP at current prices.

Commercial relations between Korea and the UK are strong, and growing.  For Korea, the UK is a key market, being its 8th largest export country and providing a healthy trade surplus.  In 2003, Korea exported US$ 4.1 billion of goods to the UK.  The biggest earning sectors were telecommunications, ships, cars and electrical appliances.  The UK is also the 12th largest source of imports for Korea, with US$ 2.7 billion of products imported in 2002.  The main areas of
interest here are electrical machinery, pharmaceuticals, optical instruments, medical equipment, organic chemicals and our old favourite, Scotch whiskey.

In addition to straight forward trade, Korean and British companies are seeing the advantages of joint ventures and partnerships.  The UK is already a significant investor in Korea, with major commitments including BP and Shell (chemicals and energy) Tesco (retail), BOC Gases, Allied
Domecq (beverages) all in partnership with Korean firms.   HSBC and Standard Chartered have also formed alliances in the Korean financial services sector.  Korean companies too are seeing
benefits from setting up in the UK, both as a marketplace and as a point of entry to the huge opportunities of the EU.  Samsung, Daewoo, LG and  Humax are among those with significant production and R&D facilities in Britain, for mobile phones and a host of electronic products.

More British names are also becoming familiar in the retail sector in Korea, with Aquascutum, Burberry and Daks well established, alongside Bodyshop, Marks and Spencer and Next.  With increased Korean recognition for the quality of British goods and textiles, more high fashion UK names are looking to make Korea their home.  Watch this space.

The British Embassy in Seoul aims to assist further trade development between the UK and Korea in investment, with an active programme of 2 way business visits, seminars and collaborations.  In addition to sectors mentioned above, creative and media, design, marine engineering, railways, education, bioscience and environmental technologies will all be part of our programme of putting together Korean and British companies.  Further details can be obtained from the Commercial Section at the British Embassy (seoulcomm@uk.or.kr).

UK Trade & Investment (www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk) brings together the work of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Depart of Trade and Industry (DTI) on international trade and investment. The government agency provides national co-ordination across government departments, the devolved administration and the British regions on international trade and a voice within government for exporters and companies investing overseas.

7. UK trade & investment


UK Trade & Investment is the lead Government organization created to support overseas business seeking to set up or expand in the UK. We work in close partnership with the English regional development agencies and the national development agencies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

UK Trade & Investment will help you make sound investment decisions, based on our commercial expertise and unrivalled local access and knowledge.

-  Introductions to your sector networks
-  industry leaders, universities, other centers of excellence and collaborative partnerships.
-  Bespoke information on key commercial considerations- company information, financial     incentives, labour, real estate, transport, utilities and regulatory issues
- Thorough regional analysis and informed advice to help you choose the right location
-  Pipeline into central government to help safeguard your business interests

8. Finance

Financial services and the economy

The UK's financial services sector accounts for around 5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs more than 1 million people. UK financial sector net exports reached a record 13.2 billion in 2001.

Bank of England

The Bank of England ( www.bankofengland.co.uk) was established in 1694 by Act of Parliament and Royal Charter as a corporate body. Its capital stock was acquired by the Government in 1946. As the UK's central bank, the Bank's overriding objective is to maintain a stable and efficient monetary and financial framework for the effective operation of the economy.  

Banking services

The UK is a major banking centre, and UK banking sector assets were valued at over 3,400 billion at the end of 2001, nearly three times the level in 1991, with over half being owned by overseas banks, mostly from the EU. At the end of March 2002 there were 184 authorised banks incorporated in the UK and a further 113 authorised branches of banks incorporated outside the European Economic Area. In addition, 377 branches of European-authorised institutions were entitled to accept deposits in the UK.

Financial markets London Stock Exchange

The London Stock Exchange (www.londonstockexchange.com) is one of the world's leading centres for equity trading, particularly for trade in international equities where in 2001 London accounted for more than half of total cross-border trading. In 2001 turnover in international equities was 3,676 billion and in UK equities 1,905 billion. At the end of 2001, 1,809 UK and 453 international companies were listed on the main market, with a market capitalisation of 1,524 billion and 2,580 billion respectively. A further 629 companies, with a total capitalisation
of 11.6 billion, were listed on AIM, the Alternative Investment Market, primarily for small, young and growing companies. The 'techMARK' market brings together 243 of the listed companies engaged in technology or related sectors.