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United Kingdom

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ondon is the capital of the United Kingdom. It ranks as one of the world?s most historic cities, tracing its roots back nearly 2000 years. London has long been a great world port and trading center. The port of London consists of two huge docks and 43 miles of wharves along the Thames River. London also has a remarkable transportation system. Expressways, and underground and surface railways carry more than one million commuters between the outlying areas and central London each workday. More than 350,000 commuters travel by subway, about 400,000 take surface trains and more than 100,000 go by bus. About 100,000 people drive their cars to work. The London subway system (the ?tube?), is the largest subway system in the world. It includes over 100 miles of underground rail lines. London?s famous double decker busses are an excellent source of transportation within the central section of the city.

he United Kingdom has an area of 244,111 square km and a population of 57,591,677. It?s population density is 241 people per square kilometer. 89% of the United Kingdom?s population is urban. The United Kingdom has a large portion of flat rolling relief, making it ideal for the 11% of the population that is involved in farming. The UK has about 240,000 farms, which average about 175 acres in size. 25% of the UK?s land is arable and the chief agricultural products are wheat, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, livestock and dairy products. The United Kingdom?s currency is the British pound, which is equivalent to 2.45 Canadian dollars.

he United Kingdom is a member of the European Community. All members of this community are engaged in forming a single market for their economic resources. Forming one market, without artificial barriers to trade and investment, the member nations are able to increase their economic efficiency and raise their citizens? standards of living. The members of the community are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. In 1993, the member nations of the European Community formed the European Union. The union consists of three components. One is the European Community. The others are a common Foreign and security policy and Justice and Home Affairs (this involves cooperation on such issues as crime and immigration). The European Community is a major economic unit. Its members have more people and produce more goods and services than the United States. They import and export more than any one country in the world. Community members have abolished all tariffs and most other obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, or capital among themselves. Community members participate in the European monetary system (EMS). The EMS encourages trade and investment among community members by stabilizing the exchange rates of its member?s currencies. The European Community has helped increase the economic welfare of its member?s citizens. Members of the European Community enjoy many significant advantages. They are able to exchange goods, tariff free, which is an essential element of their economic growth. One other significant benefit of the community is the EMS, as it stabilizes the exchange rates of the countries in the community. Since the 1950?s, community members have enjoyed significant economic growth.

The UK is an unparalleled member of the European Union and Europe?s most attractive location for international business. It accounts for more than a third of global investment in the European Union and some 40% of the total from the US and Japan. Within Europe itself, cross-border investment in the UK far exceeds that of any other country.

he United Kingdom is one of the world?s greatest trading powers. The UK?s main trading partners are France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. In addition, the United Kingdom is one of the United States? closest allies and British foreign policy emphasizes close coordination with the United States. These two countries share the same language, ideals and democratic practices. The relations between these two countries were strengthened by the UK?s alliance with the United States during both World Wars, the Korean conflict and the Persian Gulf War. The United Kingdom and the United States regularly consult on foreign policy issues and global problems.

The United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, therefore its location is ideal for ship transportation. Shipping is an inexpensive and fairly efficient method of transportation; however, the United Kingdom also has a large number of airports and railways (see transportation). The United Kingdom is also located close to France and Belgium, which are two of its main trading partners, resulting in inexpensive transportation of goods.

he UK has an exceptionally well organized system of government. The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state; however, a cabinet of senior politicians, known as ministers governs the country. The prime minister (Tony Blair, elected May 2,1997) is the head of the government. Parliament is the chief lawmaking body. It consists of the monarch, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

he United Kingdom is said to have an unwritten constitution as it is not all jotted down on one document. Some of it?s written parts are laws passed by Parliament, others come from historic documents (Magna Carta), and common law. The unwritten part contains ideas and practices that British society has developed over time, such as, the cabinet system of government and the relationship between the cabinet and the monarch.

he two largest political parties in the United Kingdom are the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. Much of the Labour Party?s support comes from labor unions, known as trade unions. The Conservative Party (lead by John Major) stems from the Tory Party, which commenced in the late 1600?s. The Labour Party (lead by Tony Blair) began in 1900. Other parties like the Liberal Democrats (Jeremy Ashdown) are minute in comparison to the Conservative or Labour parties. There are a few nationalist parties in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (Scottish National Party, lead by Alex Salmond) that favor independence from the United Kingdom.

he monarchy in Britain can be traced back almost 1,200 years. The monarch must approve all bills passed by Parliament before they can become laws. No monarch has rejected a bill passed by Parliament since the early 1700?s.

he Prime Minister is usually the leader of



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