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Background: The United Kingdom has historically played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith in the 19th century, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the earth's surface. The first half of the 20th century saw the UK's strength seriously depleted in two world wars and the Irish republic withdraw from the union. The second half witnessed the dismantling of the Empire and the UK rebuilding itself into a modern and prosperous European nation. As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a founding member of NATO, and of the Commonwealth, the UK pursues a global approach to foreign policy. The UK is also an active member of the EU, although it chose to remain outside the Economic and Monetary Union. The Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly were established in 1999. The latter was suspended until May 2007 due to wrangling over the peace process, but devolution was fully completed in March 2010.
note: the following are recognized regional languages: Scots (about 30% of the population of Scotland), Scottish Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland), Welsh (about 20% of the population of Wales), Irish (about 10% of the population of Northern Ireland), Cornish (some 2,000 to 3,000 in Cornwall)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has completed five or more years of schooling; total population: 99%; male: 99%; female: 99% (2003 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $2.189 trillion (2010 est.); $2.154 trillion (2009 est.); $2.268 trillion (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $2.259 trillion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 1.6% (2010 est.); -5% (2009 est.); -0.1% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $35,100 (2010 est.); $34,800 (2009 est.); $36,800 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 0.9%; industry: 22.1%; services: 77.1% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 14% (2006 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.1%; highest 10%: 28.5% (1999);
Labor force: 31.45 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 1.4%; industry: 18.2%; services: 80.4% (2006 est.);
Unemployment rate: 7.9% (2010 est.); 7.6% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $926.7 billion; expenditures: $1.154 trillion (2010 est.);
Industries: 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, other consumer goods;
Industrial production growth rate: 1.9% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 368.6 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 345.8 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 1.272 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 12.29 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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The U.K. government is considering legislation that would require its banks to separate their retail banking operations from their investment banking arms, thus safeguarding against future financial disasters.
Countering Radicalization Among British Muslim Youth
There isn't a government in Europe that doesn't need to tighten its belt right now, the United Kingdom being no exception. But should spending on foreign aid be one of the areas that gets cut?
London has a lot to offer in a compact geographic area, giving a visitor plenty to do over the course of a few days.