Form of Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Area: 242 545 sq km
Population: 66 040 229 inhab. (estimate 2017)
Density: 272.28 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 62° - 49° N; long. 8° W - 2° E
Capital: London (capital) 8 825 001 inhab. (2017); Greater London Urban Area 10 585 000 inhab. (2017); Greater London 8 825 001 inhab. (2017)
Currency: pound sterling (100 pence)
Human development index: 0.909 (rank: 16)
Sovereign: Queen Elizabeth II, since 6 February 1952
Prime Minister: Theresa May (Conservative), since 13 July 2016
House of Commons: seats based on the elections of 8 June 2017: Conservative Party (centre-right), 316; Labour Party (centre-left), 258; SNP (Scottish National Party), 35; LibDem (Liberal Democrats), 12; DUP (Democratic Unionist Party, Northern Ireland), 9; SF (Sinn Féin, Irish republican) 7; PC (Plaid Cymru, Welsh Nationalist Party), 4; others, 9
Internet: (Office for National Statistics)
Member of Commonwealth, Council of Europe, EBRD, EU, NATO, OAS observer, OECD, OSCE, UN, WTO

United Kingdom

United Kingdom, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Useful information

International license plate code GB
International dialling code 0044
Travel vaccinations requirement none
Electricity (Voltage) 230/240
Driving side left
Internet code .uk

GMT  0
DST  +1
DST duration (start-end) late March-late October

Annual average temperature (°C) London 10.1; Belfast 8.6; Edimburgo 8.7; Manchester 9.5
Average temperature in January/July (°C) London 4/17; Belfast 3.5/14.5; Edimburgo 3.5/14.5; Manchester 3.5/16
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) London 7/1; Belfast 5.5/1; Edimburgo 6/1; Manchester 6/1.5
Annual average precipitation (mm) London 740; Belfast 875; Edimburgo 655; Manchester 810
Days of rainfall (annual average) London 116; Belfast 177; Edimburgo 125; Manchester 140

Politics and current affairs

The minority conservative government led by Theresa May continues to handle the complex negotiations for the UK’s exit from the European Union (Brexit), planned for March 2019. The government not only has to negotiate with the EU, but it must also confront a fragmented political scene at home, which seems to favour the Labour opposition led by Jeremy Corbyn. On 8 December 2017, the first phase of negotiations with the EU came to an end: agreements were established for maintaining the rights of European residents living in the United Kingdom and Britain’s economic contribution to the EU budget until 2020. A transitory period was also established, which cannot be extended beyond 31 December 2020. The problem of the border between Ulster and Ireland has also been resolved in theory. However, given the ambiguous language of the agreement, the thorny question of border checks on the island remains to be discussed in the second phase of negotiations, focusing on future trade relations, which should be concluded by October 2018. After long supporting a “hard Brexit” solution, on 6 July 2018, Theresa May, facing resistance from Europe, proposed a new “”soft Brexit”” plan that includes continuing to participate in the single market, some restrictions of services and maintaining a customs union until a lasting agreement on tariffs can be established. Government members Boris Johnson and David Davis, supporters of a clean break from the EU, subsequently resigned. In the event of a failed agreement, London will nonetheless leave the EU in March 2019, though without a precise plan. Meanwhile, the UK tackled a diplomatic crisis with Russia following the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on 4 March 2018 in Sainsbury: Russia has been accused of the attempted poisoning, who has denied any involvement. In the months that followed, the United Kingdom and other European countries expelled several Russian diplomats. On 19 March 2018, the global scandal exploded regarding Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting firm that had access to the personal data of many Facebook users, which it used to favour clients and events like the UK’s exit from the EU.

The United Kingdom (UK) comprises the island of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), Northern Ireland and approximately 5000 small islands including the Orkneys, the Shetlands and the Hebrides. Northern Ireland is bordered to the west and south by Eire. Otherwise the UK is bordered to the north, south-west and north-west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the east by the North Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the west by the Irish Sea.
The coastline is very irregular, with large peninsulas and deep inlets. The Solway Firth, a part of the Irish Sea, separates England from Scotland. The Bristol Channel separates the two large peninsulas of Cornwall and Wales. Geographically, the mostly mountainous north and west contrasts sharply with the mostly flat south-east. Morphologically, the situation is complicated by the presence of distinct mountain groups and masses (from north to south: the North West Highlands, the Grampians, the Southern Uplands, the Pennines and the Cambrian Mountains) which decrease in height from north to south. Ben Nevis in Scotland is the highest peak (1343 m). The main rivers are the Thames, Severn, Humber, Tyne, Mersey and Clyde. Scotland also has numerous lakes, of which the largest is Loch Lomond. In the UK as a whole, the largest lake is Lough Neagh in Northern Island. The climate is cool temperate and maritime with constant humidity. Northern Ireland and Eire share the same physical features.


At the end of World War II, the UK still ruled over a vast colonial empire and ranked as a major power. The loss of the colonies (starting with India in 1947) and diminished international influence as a result of the Cold War turned the UK into a medium-ranking European power. The country’s entrance into the EEC in 1973 marked the beginning of a difficult integration process with the continent, which led to the 24 June 2016 referendum, which paved the way to a political process for the country’s exit from the EU. On 19 June 2017, talks began for leaving the EU. Close relations with Commonwealth countries continue.
The long-standing “special relationship” with the USA is a constant given in British politics–with the British government maintaining an uncritical approach to Washington’s choices, especially in the Afghanistan and Iraq campaign after 2001.
In 2011 it took part in war operations in Libya. In Northern Ireland, after many years of terrorist attacks and guerrilla warfare between Protestant unionists and Catholic separatists (the “Troubles”), the Good Friday peace agreement was signed on 10 April 1998. After the installation, in 1999, of an independent multiparty government, attempts were made to grant self-control to the region, but institutional deadlock lasted until 2005, when the IRA (Irish Republican Army) announced the end of armed conflict and destroyed its weapons as a sign of good faith. In 2007, the first government was formed including Sinn Féin representatives and Unionist extremists (DUP).
Not regulated by a written constitution, the British system is parliamentary. The House of Commons has 650 members elected for five years in uninominal constituencies. The House of Lords (755 members: 641 life peers, 89 hereditary peers and 25 Lords Spiritual (bishops) has lost all of its real political power since 1911. The government is headed by the Prime Minister (the leader of the majority party, formally appointed by the sovereign). The Cabinet, formed by the heads of the most important ministries, is responsible for major political decisions. Scotland and Wales have substantial governmental and political autonomy (in line with the principle of devolution).

The UK has its own nuclear deterrent deliverable by nuclear missile submarines. Withdrawal of troops from Iraq was completed in 2009. Participation in military operations in Afghanistan formally came to an end in 2014. Since 2015, a training mission has been underway with 500 troops.
The country takes part in the air attacks against fundamentalist Sunni militias in Iraq (since 2014) and in Syria (since 2015). On 15 April 2018, the UK, along with the USA and France, participated in bombing some bases belonging to the Syrian regime. Military service is voluntary.

The judicial system is based on Common Law, which is founded on the binding principle of case law or precedent rather than a set of codified laws. The highest court of appeal is the Supreme Court, consisting of 12 judges.

Air force21.9%2015
Crimes6 536.5per 100 000 pop.2012
Homicides0.9per 100 000 pop.2014

Administrative division

Administrative divisions
Administrative divisions
Administrative divisions
Administrative divisions
Administrative divisions
London8 825 001inhab.2017
Birmingham1 137 123inhab.2017
Urban agglomerations
Greater London Urban Area10 585 000inhab.2017
Greater London8 825 001inhab.2017


Population by age and gender (% - 2017)

The United Kingdom population includes large numbers of immigrants from Ireland, the Commonwealth countries and eastern European states (especially Poland).

Demographic statistics
Birth rate11.82016
Death rate9.12016
Foreigners, total6 071 093units2017
Poles1 015 000units2017
Ethnic groups


English (official)
Scots Gaelic (co-official in Scotland)
Population by selected age groups
0-14 years17.5%2017
15-29 years18.9%2017



Economic situation.
The economy continues to slow down, as it has in recent years: the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations has slowed consumption and, in particular, private investments. Growth is expected to be around 1.7% in 2019. Efforts to stabilize public accounts continue, even if slower than expected.

Economy - General data
Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)103.13index2016
Balance of trade- 199 073M US$2017
Economy - Employment
Active population33 411 800units2017
Active population, Females46.9%2017
Economy - Unemployment
Unemployment rate4.4%2017
Unemployment rate, Females45.6%2017
Economy - State budget
Expenses763 244M LCU2017
Revenues732 549M LCU2017
Employment by economic activity
GDP by economic activity
Financial data
Currency in circulation74.3BN LCU2015
International reserves150 857.7M US$2017


Primary sector
Agriculture and forests.
British agriculture is unable to meet the food requirements of the nation.
The most important cereals are wheat and barley, grown mainly in the centre and south-east. Oats and rye are the principal cereal crops in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The potato crop is also relevant.
The most important commercial crop is sugar beet, followed by flax and hops. Market gardening is a major industry on the south-east coast.
The forests, which cover about a tenth of the land area, are exploited in moderation.
Livestock and fishing.
Livestock farming accounts for more than two-thirds of the income from the primary sector.
Its broad livestock base (sheep, cattle and pigs) generates significant exports of meat and wool, of which the UK is one of the world’s major producers.
Fishing is an important industry. The main British and Welsh ports are Grimsby, Hull, Fleetwood, North Shields, Milford Haven and Lowestoft (white fish), and Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft (herring). The main Scottish ports are Aberdeen, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Mallarg, Granton, Lerwick and the ports on the Moray Firth (herring).

Land use
arable land25.05%2015
Agriculture - products - Cereals
barley6 6551000 t2016
cereals, total21 964.1311000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Roots and tubers
potatoes5 3731000 t2016
roots and tubers, total5 3731000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Vegetables
asparagus5.8551000 t2016
cabbages280.8971000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Pulses
beans, green19.4531000 t2016
broad beans, dry288.9551000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Grape
grapes0.4491000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Oilcrops
rapeseed1 7751000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Industrial crops
hops0.4431000 t2016
sugar beet5 6871000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Flax
flax fibre and tow15.1181000 t2016
linseed481000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Fruits
apples481.11000 t2016
cherries1.71000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Others
mushrooms99.8131000 t2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Cereals
barley1 1221000 ha2016
oats1411000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Roots and tubers
potatoes1391000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Vegetables
cabbages9.1321000 ha2016
carrots and turnips12.6781000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Pulses
beans, green1.571000 ha2016
broad beans, dry75.3511000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Grape
grape0.3821000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Oilcrops
rapeseed5791000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Industrial crops
hops0.3251000 ha2016
sugar beet861000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Flax
flax fibre and tow10.4471000 ha2016
linseed271000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fruits
apples16.5121000 ha2016
cherries0.711000 ha2016


timber10 544 9912016
Livestock - Cattle
cattle10 0331000 heads2016
cattle and buffaloes10 0331000 heads2016
Livestock - Pigs
pigs4 8811000 heads2016
Livestock - Sheep
sheep33 9431000 heads2016
Livestock - Goats
goats1041000 heads2016
Livestock - Equines
equines, total417.8981000 heads2016
horses417.8981000 heads2016
Livestock - Poultry
birds163 3701000 heads2016
Livestock - Beekeeping
honey9.5461000 t2014
Livestock - Livestock products
butter1431000 t2014
cheese4101000 t2014
crustaceans and molluscs168 204.23t2016
freshwater fishes236.38t2016


Secondary sector
The UK is an producer of hydrocarbons. Oil is extracted mainly from undersea fields on the continental shelf under the North Sea (Claymore, Forties, Brent, Ninian, Piper, Fulmar). There are smaller fields on land at Egmanton and Bothamsell (Nottinghamshire), Plungar (Leicestershire), Gainsborough (Lincolnshire) and Kimmeridge (Dorset).
The network of pipelines is extensive: the main stretches connect Finnart and Grangemouth, Purbeck and Southampton, Cruden Bay and Grangemouth, and Tranmere and Heysham. Pipelines connecting refineries to major retail areas run between Stanlow and Manchester, Fawley and Severnside, Fawley and London, and Walton-on-Thames and London.
Other pipelines carry oil from the North Sea rigs to coastal refineries. Large reserves of natural gas are around Edinburgh, Esk Dale, Calow, Scarborough, Ironville, and in the North Sea. In addition to the internal network, gas pipelines connect the country with Belgium (Interconnector), the Netherlands (BBL) and Norway (Langeled).
The UK has huge coal deposits (though most are no longer mined) in England (North Yorkshire, Selby, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Co.
Durham, Northumberland, Lancashire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire), South Wales and Scotland. Other important mineral resources are barite, fluorspar, gypsum, salt, kaolin and potash.
The country generates plenty of electricity, approximately 20% of which is guaranteed by 15 nuclear reactors (Dungeness-B, Hartlepool-A, Heysham-A and -B, Hinkley Point-B, Hunterston-B, Sizewell-B and Torness). Their total capacity should be halved by 2025.
Industry in the UK is highly diversified. Restructuring in the 1980s and ’90s led to the growth of innovations sectors (especially electronics) to the detriment of heavy industry and textiles. The iron and steel industry is concentrated in South Wales, Cleveland, Humberside, Sheffield, Scotland (Ravenscraig) and Lancashire, as well as Staffordshire and Northamptonshire. Of the non-ferrous metals the most important is aluminium, with refineries at Fort William, Glasgow, Wrexham and Coleshill. Other important metals are lead and nickel. The main oil refineries are at Fawley (Southampton) and Ellesmere Port, with others at Coryton (on the Thames estuary), Killingholme, Pembroke, Grangemouth, Milford Haven, Eastham and Dundee. Two regasification terminals are located in Milford Haven, another on Grain Island (east of London). There is also an outstanding chemical industry, with significant growth in plastics and synthetic resins.
Extensive salt deposits in Cheshire and South Lancashire determined the siting of the oldest chemical industry in the UK. Soda ash, ammonia, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid and nitric acid are also manufactured. Wilton (near Middlesbrough) is an important chemical site. Dyes for local textiles industries are produced in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The largest chemical complex in Scotland is at Aberdeen (nitrogenous fertilizers). A highly important role is played by the pharmaceutical sector due to the presence of some leading global multinationals. There is also a moderately important rubber industry (Hythe).
The main cement works are sited along the River Thames, the River Avon, and the Rivers Medway and Humber; other plants are located in North Wales.
Nuclear technology is one of the most important high-tech sectors. Isotopes and radioactive materials for medicine, agriculture and industry are produced at Amersham. Nuclear research is carried out at Culham, Aldermaston, Foulness and Sheffield.
In the field of mechanical engineering, the Sheffield area is world-famous for cutlery and high-quality steel. Lancashire, Yorkshire, Dundee, Leicestershire and Nottingham specialise in textile machinery.
Railway carriages are made in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle and Darlington, and locomotives in Manchester, Glasgow, Darlington, Crewe, Derby, Swindon, Doncaster, Ashford and Eastleigh. Bicycle factories are found in Brentford, Coventry, Birmingham, Nottingham, Wolverhampton and Daventry. Automobile and commercial vehicle output (Coventry, Cowley, Nottingham, Paisley, Scotston, Bridgeton and Dagenham) has fallen drastically.
The aviation industry, renowned for its great traditions and technological prowess, is based in Wight, Yeovil, Bristol, Gloucester, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Luton, Derby, Manchester, Preston, Farnborough and Bedford, and on the Isle of Wight. There is a rocket launch site on the island of South Uist, in the Hebrides. Ship-building is important in Belfast, Barrow-in-Furness, Glasgow, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Devonport, Faslane and Rosyth. The colossal BAE Systems won a $26 billion commission to build nine war ships for Australia.
There are electrical engineering works in Dagenham, Coventry, Workington, Stretford, Doncaster, Gainsborough, Leeds, Manchester, Rugby, Tyneside and Stafford.
The traditional textile industries are still rather important. The largest clothing manufacturing centres are London, Leeds and Manchester. While the cotton sector disappeared in the second half of the last century, the wool sector is still sizeable, mainly based in Yorkshire. Segments of the man-made fibres industry are also active.
There is also the centuries-old, albeit re-proportioned in the late twentieth century, leather and tanning industry as well as the footwear industry.
The pottery district centres on the towns of Burslem, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Stoke and Tunstall, which form the conurbation of Stoke-on-Trent (The Potteries). Glass-making and crystal-ware are often sited near coalfields, and in large cities such as Glasgow, London and Birmingham.
One of the most important food and drink industries is brewing, which uses hops grown mainly in Kent. Yorkshire, Bristol and Nottingham are famous for confectionery. Whisky, especially Scotch (exported all over the world) and gin, with distilleries in London, are major industries. The paper industry and tobacco-processing are also sizeable.

Mineral resources - Energy minerals
coal3 041.11000 t2017
coal, total3 041.11000 t2017
Mineral resources - Metal ores
lead0.11000 t2015
titanium2401000 t2015
Mineral resources - Non-metal ores
barite401000 t2015
feldspar0.51000 t2011
Mineral resources - Rocks
dolomite3 6001000 t2015
kaolin1 1001000 t2017


Electric energy - Generated
- thermal168 144.38M kWh2015
- other renew.80 845M kWh2015
Electric energy - Installed capacity
- thermal52 5891000 kW2015
- other renew.28 6301000 kW2015
Electric energy - Total production and capacity
total net generation319 122.38M kWh2015
total installed capacity94 6401000 kW2015


Industry - Iron and Steel, Metallurgy
aluminium1961000 t2015
aluminium, primary481000 t2016
Industry - Machinery and transport equipment
bikes73 853no.2015
cars1 671 166no.2017
Industry - Precision and optical instruments
watches and clocks11 833no.2013
Industry - Electrical and electronics
air conditioners974 686no.2013
computers117 701no.2014
Industry - Petrochemicals
bitumen9901000 t2015
petrol23 127.91000 t2014
Industry - Chemicals
ammonia1 1001000 t2016
artificial tow28.41000 t2009
Industry - Textiles
carpets71 021.11000 m²2015
cotton fabrics20.4M m²2015
Industry - Clothing and footwear
footwear3 523 338pairs2015
Industry - Food and beverages
beer of barley4 120.41000 t2014
fish, frozen164.51000 t2014
Industry - Tobacco
cigarettes40 976M units2014
cigars - t488t2010
Industry - Paper and wood products
chemi-mechanical pulp2201000 t2016
mechanical pulp2201000 t2016
Industry - Glass and other non-metallic mineral products
cement8 707.11000 t2015
Industry - Various
chemicals production24 237.5M US$2013
food, beverages and tobacco production45 437.2M US$2013


Tertiary sector
Foreign trade.
The UK has a negative foreign trade balance. Services (finance, investment, freight), in particular capital flow activities, play an important role. The main imports are manufactured goods, chemical products and foodstuffs. The major trading partners are the USA, Germany, France, China and the Netherlands.

Main exports (M US$ - 2017) machinery 62 153, passenger cars 41 868, pharmaceuticals 32 608, crude oil and petroleum products 30 336, electric and electronic equipment 23 185, aircraft and parts thereof 21 053, chemicals 18 816, technical and electro-medical appliances 17 989, gold 16 998, iron and steel 12 339, plastics 12 088, vehicles and parts thereof 11 720, jewels and precious stones 10 525, apparel and accessories 8 029, spirits 7 272, works of art and antiques 6 543, cosmetics 5 841, computers and accessories 5 651, platinum 5 609, telecommunications equipment 5 244, furniture and accessories 3 983, books and printed matters 3 697, natural gas 3 666, dyes 3 524, paper 3 053, aluminium 2 842, tyres and rubber articles 2 809, food preparations 2 706, beverages 2 509, soap and detergents 2 292, fish and crustaceans 2 262

Finance and banking.
The UK has a highly developed and diversified banking system overseen by the Bank of England.
The UK is not a member of the EU Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and has retained sterling as its currency.
The financial market is extremely important: the London Stock Exchange (LSE) is the most important in Europe. Insurance is also a major industry. Brexit could deprive London of its role as a major financial center in Europe.
Various overseas territories and dependencies (Gibraltar, Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) have been repeatedly condemned by the OECD as “fiscal paradises”.

Composition of goods exports
manufactures79.088% of goods exports2016
food products7.102% of goods exports2016
International trade by country - Merchandise Export
United States59 189M US$2017
Germany46 698M US$2017
International trade by country - Merchandise Import
Germany89 695M US$2017
China59 863M US$2017
Merchandise Export
2017444 981.599M US$ -
2016409 578.348M US$ -
Merchandise Import
2017644 055.074M US$ -
2016636 365.886M US$ -


Tourism. The UK is one of major tourist destination.
The principal centres are London and the university towns, where many foreign students go to study English.

International Tourism
Expenditures79 371M US$2016
Number of arrivals35 814 000units2016


Privatisation of the well-developed railway system began in 1993. The Channel Tunnel and high-speed trains link the UK to Lille, Brussels and Paris.
The road network is remarkably extensive, and there are excellent airport infrastructures.
The flagship carrier British Airways is one of the major world airlines; a project for the expansion of Heathrow airport (London) was approved in 2018. Goods are also transported on inland waterways and navigable rivers.

Media and telecommunication.
The newspaper and periodicals industry boasts such prestigious titles as The Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian and The Economist as well as tabloids such as The Sun and Daily Mirror.

Communication - Transport
Civil aviation, km flown1 204 700 000km flown2004
Civil aviation, passengers carried151 867.31000 units2017
Communication - Media and telecommunication
Broadband subscribers393.097per 1000 pop.2017
Computers802per 1000 pop.2008

Social and welfare

Education and research.
Primary (4/5-11 years) and secondary (11-16 years) education is compulsory and free. In line with the devolution principles, each Country of the UK has its own education system under separate government’s responsibilities.

Social security and health.
The public health and national insurance systems cover workers against loss of earnings due to unemployment, maternity and sickness, and guarantees a minimum wage, maternity and family benefit, and industrial accident compensation.
Various forms of aid are provided for the less privileged.

Social statistics - Education
Expected years of schooling17.4years2015
Gradautes, percentage46%2016
Social statistics - Students and Teachers by level
Teachers, primary level272 430units2014
Teachers, secondary level412 359units2015
Social statistics - Social protection
Social protection spending38.4% of total expenses2015
Social protection spending28.6% of GDP2015
Social statistics - Health
Hospital beds2.6per 1000 pop.2016
Physicians2.8per 1000 pop.2017
Social statistics - Diseases
HIV0.3% of adults2013
HIV, total0.05%2001
Museums, visitors34 700 000units2003-04
Research and development spending1.69% of GDP2016
Other social indicators
Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking100%2016
Access to electricity100%2016
Household consumption expenditure
clothing, footwear5.5%2017