ممثلية المملكة العربية السعودية في المملكة المتحدة United Kingdom About UK About UK Last updated: 5/28/2015 3:40 PM Page Image Image CaptionUnited Kingdom Flag Page Content The Area, Capital and Currency The total area of the United Kingdom is approximately 244,822 square kilometers or 94,526 square miles. The population is estimated at around 60 million and almost two-thirds live in England. London is the capital of England and the UK, where all the government offices, headquarters of commercial institutions, as well as international organizations are situated. The pound sterling is the official currency, but the Scottish pound has the same legal tender as the pound in any part of the UK. British Flag The British flag is called the Union Jack. This flag comprises the flags of all countries of the United Kingdom, except Wales. Historical Background The British Empire was established in 1496 and at one point in the history, it had colonized more than 70 countries in Asia, Africa, America and some islands in the Mediterranean Sea. A decade ago, Yemen, Afghanistan, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, and many African countries including Cameroon, Somalia, Kenya and Angola, Sudan, Kuwait and Iraq were part of British Empire. One of the last colonies, Hong Kong, was handed back in 1997 to China, but the UK still holds a handful of colonies and small islands, including Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. Military Involvement Throughout modern history, Britain has been heavily involved in international affairs, playing a significant role in World War I and II, as well as the war fought by the Tripartite against Egypt. In also fought a significant war against Argentina in the early 1980s to recover the Falkland Islands after their invasion. The UK participated in coalition forces in the second Gulf War to liberate Kuwait and joined NATO forces in stopping civil war in the former Yugoslavia. British Forces have also operated in Africa under United Nations administration, and currently British forces are taking part in the NATO offensive in Afghanistan. UK Forces have also jointly deployed with the US in the war on Iraq, and very recently, joined NATO to protect Libyan civilians from Muammar Gaddafi. Climate The United Kingdom is located 50-60 degrees north of the equator. The climate is affected by the Atlantic Ocean and most parts of Northern Ireland, Wales and western parts of England and Scotland have high precipitation. The north and south-eastern areas experience a relatively drier and cooler climate. Generally, temperatures range between -10 to 27 degrees centigrade, with 30 centigrade an average during summer. Language and Education System The official language of the country is English, and the Welsh language is taught at primary schools in Wales. The UK authorities allow many foreign languages to be taught in schools. However, university education is solely delivered in English. Compulsory education begins at the age of five and up to the age of 16. Primary education ends at 11, followed by high school for another five years. After completion, students sit major exams leading to secondary school certificate examinations (GCSE). Depending on results, students can then complete Advanced-Level, or A-Level course for a further two years, which lead to university entrance. Ethnicity % of totalPopulationEthnic Group9254,000,000White1.2670,000Mix race1.81,000,000Indian1.3750,000Pakistani0.5280,000Bangladeshi0.4250,000Other Asians1.0600,000Black Caribbean0.8490,000Black African0.2100,000Black others0.4250,000Chinese0.5230,000Other Religion The official religion of the UK is Christianity, but the country enjoys religious freedom. There are thousands of mosques for Muslims, side by side with Sikh temples and Jewish synagogues. Political Parties The main political parties in the UK are: The Conservatives (also known as the Tory Party) The Labour Party The Liberal Democrats The Green Party The Welsh Nationalists (Plaid Cymru) The Scottish National (the SNP) Sinn Fein (Northern Ireland) The Social Democratic Party (Northern Ireland ) Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) Constitution and Political System The UK consists of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The Kingdom is governed by a hereditary constitutional monarchy, with the Queen as the head of state and a symbol of national unity. The Queen has four children, Crown Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Princess Anne. The United Kingdom has no written constitution, but is protected by its significant and historic legal framework. The Parliament is the legislative authority, which has the power to enact and change laws. The sovereignty of the British system comes from the Parliament. Parliament has two Chambers: The House of Commons: The House of Commons or Parliament has 646 members. Those members of Parliament (MP) elected by the British people for a term of 4-5 years. The last general elections took place in 2010. The House of Lords: The House of Lords also called Second Chamber has around 733 members. The membership is made up of 25 senior leaders of the Church of England, and the rest are heredity peers, religious and ethnic leaders and senior judges.