(United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). Island state of northwestern Europe (242,507 km²). Capital: London. Administrative division: 41 counties (England); 22 unitary districts (Wales); 32 unitary districts (Scotland); 26 districts (Northern Ireland). Population: 63,105,654 (2013 estimate). Language: English. Religion: Anglicans 43.5%, Protestants 10%, Catholics 9.8%, other Christians 1.7%, Muslims 1.4%, Orthodox 1%, Hindus 0.7%, Jews 0.5%, Sikhs 0, 4%, non-religious / atheists 31%. Monetary unit: pound sterling (100 pence). Human Development Index: 0.892 (14th place). Borders (Northern Ireland): EIRE (W and S). Borders (Great Britain): Atlantic Ocean (N, SW, NW), North Sea (E), English Channel (S), Irish Sea (W). Member of: Commonwealth, Council of Europe, EBRD, NATO, OCDE, UN, OSCE, PC, EU and WTO.
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy composed of the historical and geographical regions of England, Scotland and Wales (which together form Great Britain) and Northern Ireland, plus numerous smaller islands, including Orkney, the Shetland and the Hebrides, off the Scottish coast; the Isle of Wight, in the English Channel; the Isle of Anglesey, off the Welsh coast; the Isles of Scilly, opposite Cape Land’s End. They are not part of the United Kingdom, but depend directly on the Crown, maintaining large autonomies, the island of Man, in the Irish Sea, and the Channel Islands (or Norman Islands), located in the English Channel, a short distance from the French coast. A particular characteristic of the British legal system is the lack of an effective Constitution, that is, of a unitary, organic document, as the system of government is based on a series of documents, laws and customs, some of which date back to the Middle Ages, and it is, it can be said, in constant transformation. The government system is parliamentary in character, but progressively the Cabinet has acquired ever greater weight as an effective center of power. Head of state is the sovereign (the monarchy is hereditary also by female line), who is also head of the Commonwealth. Since 1952 the sovereign is Elizabeth II. The supreme legislative body is the Parliament, composed of the House of Commons, 659 members elected for 5 years by direct universal suffrage with the uninominal system, and the House of Lords, whose powers declined considerably after the reform of 1911.
On October 26, 1999, a further reform was passed that suppresses the position of hereditary member of the House of Lords, in which only peers appointed by the sovereign can sit, with a reduction of their number from 759 to 92. Executive power is exercised by the government, chaired by the prime minister (appointed by the sovereign in the person of the leader of the majority party); he forms the government and together with the holders of the most important departments constitutes the Cabinet. The British judicial system is based on the Common Law which, unlike the continental European one based on a corpus of codified laws, is based on the binding value of judicial precedents; the highest court of appeal is the House of Lords. Since 1921 Northern Ireland, or Ulster, has enjoyed wide autonomy, with its own Parliament and government and is represented in the London Parliament by 17 members, but since 30 March 1972, following the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act, the London government has directly assumed political control of Northern Ireland. Only with the Stormont agreement of 10 April 1998, signed by the British Prime Minister together with the Irish Prime Minister and the delegates of eight Northern Irish parties, later confirmed by a subsequent referendum, was the first Northern Irish Parliament formed, composed of Catholic ministers and Protestants. Since 1997, Wales and Scotland have also obtained administrative autonomy on the basis of the referendums held that same year. Subsequent reforms led to the establishment, in 1999, of two distinct regional parliaments and governments. As for the defense system, military service is voluntary and the country has nuclear weapons. Education is compulsory from 5 years of age. L’ compulsory schooling ends at 16, but 65% of students continue their studies. The university is accessed through a very selective exam and its courses generally last 3 or 4 years, at the end of which the title of bachelor (first degree); in order to obtain the master’s and doctor ‘s degrees, further studies are required. Visit jibin123 for vocational training in United Kingdom.