United Kingdom

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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's withdrawal 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 and a founding member of NATO and 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.



Western Europe, islands - including the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland - between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea; northwest of France

Geographic coordinates

54.00° N, 2.00° W

Area 80/257

total: 243,610 sq km

land: 241,930 sq km

water: 1,680 sq km

note: includes Rockall and Shetland Islands

Area - comparative

twice the size of Pennsylvania; slightly smaller than Oregon

Land boundaries

total: 443 km

border countries (1): Ireland 443 km


12,429 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: as defined in continental shelf orders or in accordance with agreed upon boundaries


temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast


mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: The Fens -4 m

highest point: Ben Nevis 1,343 m

Natural resources

coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, lead, zinc, gold, tin, limestone, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, potash, silica sand, slate, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 71%

arable land 25.1%; permanent crops 0.2%; permanent pasture 45.7%

forest: 11.9%

other: 17.1% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

2,280 sq km (2005)

Total renewable water resources

147 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 13.03 cu km/yr (58%/33%/9%)

per capita: 213.2 cu m/yr (2008)

Natural hazards

winter windstorms; floods

Environment - current issues

continues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; by 2005 the government reduced the amount of industrial and commercial waste disposed of in landfill sites to 85% of 1998 levels and recycled or composted at least 25% of household waste, increasing to 33% by 2015

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

lies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from France and linked by tunnel under the English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters

People and Society


noun: Briton(s), British (collective plural)

adjective: British

Ethnic groups

white 87.2%, black/African/Caribbean/black British 3%, Asian/Asian British: Indian 2.3%, Asian/Asian British: Pakistani 1.9%, mixed 2%, other 3.7% (2011 est.)



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) (2012 est.)


Christian (includes Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) 59.5%, Muslim 4.4%, Hindu 1.3%, other 2%, unspecified 7.2%, none 25.7% (2011 est.)

Population 23/238

64,088,222 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 17.37% (male 5,706,871/female 5,424,654)

15-24 years: 12.41% (male 4,060,480/female 3,891,262)

25-54 years: 40.91% (male 13,344,087/female 12,873,234)

55-64 years: 11.58% (male 3,675,565/female 3,746,483)

65 years and over: 17.73% (male 5,086,919/female 6,278,667) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 55.1%

youth dependency ratio: 27.6%

elderly dependency ratio: 27.6%

potential support ratio: 3.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 40.4 years

male: 39.2 years

female: 41.6 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 155/233

0.54% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 161/224

12.17 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 60/225

9.35 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 40/222

2.54 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 82.6% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 0.88% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

LONDON (capital) 10.313 million; Manchester 2.646 million; Birmingham 2.515 million; Glasgow 1.223 million; Southampton/Portsmouth 882,000; Liverpool 870,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female

total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth


note: data represents England and Wales only (2012 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 148/184

9 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 187/224

total: 4.38 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 4.8 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 3.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 33/224

total population: 80.54 years

male: 78.37 years

female: 82.83 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 140/224

1.89 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate


note: percent of women aged 16-49 (2008/09)

Health expenditures 30/191

9.1% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

2.81 physicians/1,000 population (2013)

Hospital bed density

2.9 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source


urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population


urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 99.1% of population

rural: 99.6% of population

total: 99.2% of population


urban: 0.9% of population

rural: 0.4% of population

total: 0.8% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.33% (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

126,700 (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

fewer than 600 (2013 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 43/191

29.8% (2014)

Education expenditures 36/173

6% of GDP (2011)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 16 years

male: 16 years

female: 17 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 52/134

total: 20.9%

male: 23.3%

female: 18.3% (2013 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; note - Great Britain includes England, Scotland, and Wales

conventional short form: United Kingdom

abbreviation: UK

Government type

constitutional monarchy and Commonwealth realm


name: London

geographic coordinates: 51.30° N, 0.05° W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

note: applies to the United Kingdom proper, not to its overseas dependencies or territories

Administrative divisions

England: 27 two-tier counties, 32 London boroughs and 1 City of London or Greater London, 36 metropolitan districts, 56 unitary authorities (including 4 single-tier counties*)

two-tier counties: Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Sussex, Worcestershire

London boroughs and City of London or Greater London: Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, City of London, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, Westminster

metropolitan districts: Barnsley, Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Bury, Calderdale, Coventry, Doncaster, Dudley, Gateshead, Kirklees, Knowlsey, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Oldham, Rochdale, Rotherham, Salford, Sandwell, Sefton, Sheffield, Solihull, South Tyneside, St. Helens, Stockport, Sunderland, Tameside, Trafford, Wakefield, Walsall, Wigan, Wirral, Wolverhampton

unitary authorities: Bath and North East Somerset, Blackburn with Darwen, Bedford, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bracknell Forest, Brighton and Hove, City of Bristol, Central Bedfordshire, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Cornwall, Darlington, Derby, Durham County*, East Riding of Yorkshire, Halton, Hartlepool, Herefordshire*, Isle of Wight*, Isles of Scilly, City of Kingston upon Hull, Leicester, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North Somerset, Northumberland*, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Reading, Redcar and Cleveland, Rutland, Shropshire, Slough, South Gloucestershire, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Telford and Wrekin, Thurrock, Torbay, Warrington, West Berkshire, Wiltshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham, York

Northern Ireland: 5 borough councils, 4 district councils, 2 city councils

borough councils: Antrim and Newtownabbey; Ards and North Down; Armagh, Banbridge, and Craigavon; Causeway Coast and Glens; Mid and East Antrim

district councils: Derry and Strabane; Fermanagh and Omagh; Mid Ulster; Newry, Murne, and Down

city councils: Belfast; Lisburn and Castlereagh

Scotland: 32 council areas

council areas: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, The Scottish Borders, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian

Wales: 22 unitary authorities

unitary authorities: Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Isle of Anglesey, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Pembrokeshire, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Swansea, The Vale of Glamorgan, Torfaen, Wrexham

Dependent areas

Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands


12 April 1927 (Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act establishes current name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland); notable earlier dates: 927 (minor English kingdoms united); 3 March 1284 (enactment of the Statute of Rhuddlan uniting England and Wales); 1536 (Act of Union formally incorporates England and Wales); 1 May 1707 (Acts of Union formally unite England and Scotland as Great Britain); 1 January 1801 (Acts of Union formally unite Great Britain and Ireland as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland); 6 December 1921 (Anglo-Irish Treaty formalizes partition of Ireland; six counties remain part of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland)

National holiday

the UK does not celebrate one particular national holiday


unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice; note - recent additions include the Human Rights Act of 1998, the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, and the House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015 (2015)

Legal system

common law system; has nonbinding judicial review of Acts of Parliament under the Human Rights Act of 1998

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of the United Kingdom

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); Heir Apparent Prince CHARLES (son of the queen, born 14 November 1948)

head of government: Prime Minister David CAMERON (since 11 May 2010)

cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually becomes the prime minister; David Cameron (Conservative) assumed office 11 May 2010

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of the House of Lords (760 seats - membership not fixed (there are 816 lords eligible for taking part in the work of the House of Lords consisting of 698 life peers, 86 hereditary peers, and 26 clergy - as of October 2015; members appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister and non-party political members recommended by the House of Lords Appointments Commission) and the House of Commons (650 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by first-past-the-post vote to serve 5-year terms unless the House is dissolved earlier)

elections: House of Lords - no elections (note - in 1999, as provided by the House of Lords Act, elections were held in the House of Lords to determine the 92 hereditary peers who would remain there; elections are held only as vacancies in the hereditary peerage arise); House of Commons - last held on 8 May 2015 (next to be held by May 2020)

election results: House of Commons - percent of vote by party - Conservative 36.8%, Labor 30.5%, UKIP 12.7%, Lib Dems 7.9%, SNP 4.7%, Greens 3.8%, DUP 0.6%, Sinn Fein 0.6%, Plaid Cymru 0.6%, SDLP 0.3%, Ulster Unionist Party 0.4%, other 1.1%; seats by party - Conservative 330, Labor 232, SNP 56, Lib Dems 8, DUP 8, Sinn Fein 4, Plaid Cymru 3, SDLP 3, Ulster Unionist Party 2, UKIP 1, Greens 1, other 2

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of 12 justices including the court president and deputy president); note - the Supreme Court was established by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and implemented in October 2009, replacing the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords as the highest court in the United Kingdom

judge selection and term of office: judge candidates selected by an independent committee of several judicial commissions, followed by their recommendations to the prime minister, and appointed by Her Majesty The Queen; justices appointed during period of good behavior

subordinate courts: England and Wales - Court of Appeal (civil and criminal divisions); High Court; Crown Court; County Courts; Magistrates' Courts; Scotland - Court of Sessions; Sheriff Courts; High Court of Justiciary; tribunals; Northern Ireland - Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland; High Court; county courts; magistrates' courts; specialized tribunals

Political parties and leaders

Alliance Party (Northerm Ireland) [David FORD]

Conservative and Unionist Party [David CAMERON]

Democratic Unionist Party or DUP (Northern Ireland) [Peter ROBINSON; note - expected to be replaced by Arlene FOSTER around 11 January 2016]

Green Party of England and Wales or Greens [Natalie BENNETT]

Labor Party [Jeremy CORBYN]

Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) [Tim FARRON]

Party of Wales (Plaid Cymru) [Leanne WOOD]

Scottish National Party or SNP [Nicola STURGEON]

Sinn Fein (Northern Ireland) [Gerry ADAMS]

Social Democratic and Labor Party or SDLP (Northern Ireland) [Colum EASTWOOD]

Ulster Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [Mike NESBITT]

UK Independence Party or UKIP [Nigel FARAGE]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Confederation of British Industry

National Farmers' Union

Trades Union Congress

International organization participation

ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, C, CBSS (observer), CD, CDB, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EITI (implementing country), ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, G-20, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SELEC (observer), SICA (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNMISS, UNRWA, UNSC (permanent), UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Flag description

blue field with the red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England) edged in white superimposed on the diagonal red cross of Saint Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), which is superimposed on the diagonal white cross of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland); properly known as the Union Flag, but commonly called the Union Jack; the design and colors (especially the Blue Ensign) have been the basis for a number of other flags including other Commonwealth countries and their constituent states or provinces, and British overseas territories

National symbol(s)

lion (Britain in general); lion, Tudor rose, oak (England); lion, unicorn, thistle (Scotland); dragon, daffodil, leek (Wales); shamrock, flax (Northern Ireland); national colors: red, white, blue (Britain in general); red, white (England); blue, white (Scotland); red, white, green (Wales)

National anthem

name: "God Save the Queen"

lyrics/music: unknown

note: in use since 1745; by tradition, the song serves as both the national and royal anthem of the United Kingdom; it is known as either "God Save the Queen" or "God Save the King," depending on the gender of the reigning monarch; it also serves as the royal anthem of many Commonwealth nations


Economy - overview

The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is the third largest economy in Europe after Germany and France. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil resources, but its oil and natural gas reserves are declining and the UK has been a net importer of energy since 2005. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, are key drivers of British GDP growth. Manufacturing, meanwhile, has declined in importance but still accounts for about 10% of economic output.

In 2008, the global financial crisis hit the economy particularly hard, due to the importance of its financial sector. Falling home prices, high consumer debt, and the global economic slowdown compounded Britain's economic problems, pushing the economy into recession in the latter half of 2008 and prompting the then BROWN (Labour) government to implement a number of measures to stimulate the economy and stabilize the financial markets. Facing burgeoning public deficits and debt levels, in 2010 the CAMERON-led coalition government (between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) initiated an austerity program, which has continued under the new Conservative majority government. However, the deficit still remains one of the highest in the G7, standing at 5.1% of GDP as of mid-2015. London intends to eliminate its deficit by 2020, primarily through additional cuts to public spending and welfare benefits. It has also pledged to lower its corporation tax from 20% to 18% by 2020.

In 2012, weak consumer spending and subdued business investment weighed on the economy, however, in 2013 GDP grew 1.7% and in 2014, 2.8%, accelerating because of greater consumer spending and a recovering housing market. As of late 2015, the Bank of England (BoE) is examining when to begin raising interest rates from historically low levels while being cautious not to damage economic growth. While the UK is one of the fastest growing economies in the G7, economists are concerned about the potential negative impact if the UK votes to leave the EU. The UK has an extensive trade relationship with other EU members through its access to the single market and economic observers have warned an exit could jeopardize its position as the central location for European financial services.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 10/230

$2.66 trillion (2015 est.)

$2.594 trillion (2014 est.)

$2.524 trillion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.865 trillion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 122/225

2.5% (2015 est.)

2.8% (2014 est.)

1.7% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 40/230

$41,200 (2015 est.)

$40,200 (2014 est.)

$39,000 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 134/179

12.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

11.9% of GDP (2014 est.)

12.5% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 64.7%

government consumption: 19.1%

investment in fixed capital: 17.2%

investment in inventories: 0.2%

exports of goods and services: 27.6%

imports of goods and services: -28.8%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.6%

industry: 19.7%

services: 79.6%

(2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, poultry; fish


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 123/202

1.8% (2015 est.)

Labor force 19/233

32.94 million (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1.3%

industry: 15.2%

services: 83.5% (2014 est.)

Unemployment rate 58/207

5.4% (2015 est.)

6.2% (2014 est.)

Population below poverty line

15% (2013 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.7%

highest 10%: 31.1% (2012)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 108/144

32.4 (2012)

33.4 (2010)


revenues: $1.101 trillion

expenditures: $1.229 trillion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 47/219

38.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 161/220

-4.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 25/176

90.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

88.1% of GDP (2014 est.)

note: data cover general government debt, and include debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions

Fiscal year

6 April - 5 April

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 36/226

0.1% (2015 est.)

1.5% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 130/156

0.5% (31 December 2014)

0.5% (31 December 2013)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 153/184

4.5% (31 December 2015 est.)

4.45% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 32/192

$109.5 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$106.4 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 6/193

$3.567 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

$3.491 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 7/191

$3.276 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$3.366 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 6/121

$3.019 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

$2.903 trillion (31 December 2011)

$3.107 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance 196/197

-$135.8 billion (2015 est.)

-$173.9 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 11/224

$442 billion (2015 est.)

$480.8 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco

Exports - partners

US 12.7%, Germany 10.5%, Netherlands 7.6%, France 6.5%, Ireland 6.2%, Belgium 4.2% (2014)

Imports 6/223

$617.1 billion (2015 est.)

$680.4 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

manufactured goods, machinery, fuels; foodstuffs

Imports - partners

Germany 14.6%, China 8.9%, Netherlands 8%, US 6.8%, France 6.1%, Belgium 5.1%, Italy 4% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 21/170

$107.7 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$104.4 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Debt - external 3/206

$9.219 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

$9.411 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 5/120

$1.453 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.411 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 4/105

$1.767 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.711 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

British pounds (GBP) per US dollar -

0.6528 (2015 est.)

0.607 (2014 est.)

0.6391 (2013 est.)

0.6324 (2012 est.)

0.624 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 12/220

335 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption 12/219

319.1 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 39/218

2.72 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports 9/219

20.5 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 14/214

84.99 million kW (31 December 2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 105/214

71.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 17/214

11.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 126/214

5.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 28/212

12.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 24/214

787,200 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 19/214

703,100 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports 10/214

1.221 million bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 31/215

2.982 billion bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 15/214

1.409 million bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 16/212

1.505 million bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 10/214

559,800 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 11/213

603,100 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production 23/216

38.52 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 11/215

70.24 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports 20/215

10.55 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - imports 9/214

42.83 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 43/212

241 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 11/212

568.3 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 9/219

total subscriptions: 33.24 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 52 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 20/217

total: 78.5 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 123 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: technologically advanced domestic and international system

domestic: equal mix of buried cables, microwave radio relay, and fiber-optic systems

international: country code - 44; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and US; satellite earth stations - 10 Intelsat (7 Atlantic Ocean and 3 Indian Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean region), and 1 Eutelsat; at least 8 large international switching centers (2011)

Broadcast media

public service broadcaster, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), is the largest broadcasting corporation in the world; BBC operates multiple TV networks with regional and local TV service; a mixed system of public and commercial TV broadcasters along with satellite and cable systems provide access to hundreds of TV stations throughout the world; BBC operates multiple national, regional, and local radio networks with multiple transmission sites; a large number of commercial radio stations, as well as satellite radio services are available (2008)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 206, FM 696, shortwave 3 (2008)

Television broadcast stations

940 (2008)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 15/232

8.107 million (2012)

Internet users 10/217

total: 57.3 million

percent of population: 89.9% (2014 est.)


Airports 18/236

460 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 271

over 3,047 m: 7

2,438 to 3,047 m: 29

1,524 to 2,437 m: 89

914 to 1,523 m: 80

under 914 m: 66 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 189

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3

914 to 1,523 m: 26

under 914 m: 160 (2013)


9 (2013)


condensate 502 km; condensate/gas 9 km; gas 28,603 km; liquid petroleum gas 59 km; oil 5,256 km; oil/gas/water 175 km; refined products 4,919 km; water 255 km (2013)

Railways 17/136

total: 30,858.5 km

broad gauge: 303 km 1.600-m gauge (in Northern Ireland)

standard gauge: 30,555.5 km 1.435-m gauge (5,357 km electrified) (2014)

Roadways 17/223

total: 394,428 km

paved: 394,428 km (includes 3,519 km of expressways) (2009)

Waterways 31/107

3,200 km (620 km used for commerce) (2009)

Merchant marine 22/156

total: 504

by type: bulk carrier 33, cargo 76, carrier 4, chemical tanker 58, container 178, liquefied gas 6, passenger 7, passenger/cargo 66, petroleum tanker 18, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 31, vehicle carrier 25

foreign-owned: 271 (Australia 1, Bermuda 6, China 7, Denmark 43, France 39, Germany 59, Hong Kong 12, Ireland 1, Italy 3, Japan 5, Netherlands 1, Norway 32, Sweden 28, Taiwan 11, Tanzania 1, UAE 8, US 14)

registered in other countries: 308 (Algeria 15, Antigua and Barbuda 1, Argentina 2, Australia 5, Bahamas 18, Barbados 6, Belgium 2, Belize 4, Bermuda 14, Bolivia 1, Brunei 2, Cabo Verde 1, Cambodia 1, Cayman Islands 2, Comoros 1, Cook Islands 2, Cyprus 7, Georgia 5, Gibraltar 6, Greece 6, Honduras 1, Hong Kong 33, Indonesia 2, Italy 2, Liberia 22, Liberia 32, Luxembourg 5, Malta 21, Marshall Islands 12, Marshall Islands 3, Moldova 3, Nigeria 2, NZ 1, Panama 37, Panama 5, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 6, Thailand 6, Tonga 1, US 4, unknown 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Dover, Felixstowe, Immingham, Liverpool, London, Southampton, Teesport (England); Forth Ports (Scotland); Milford Haven (Wales)

oil terminals: Fawley Marine terminal, Liverpool Bay terminal (England); Braefoot Bay terminal, Finnart oil terminal, Hound Point terminal (Scotland)

container port(s) (TEUs): Felixstowe (3,248,592), London (1,932,000), Southampton (1,324,581)

LNG terminal(s) (import): Isle of Grain, Milford Haven, Teesside

Military and Security

Military branches

Army, Royal Navy (includes Royal Marines), Royal Air Force (2013)

Military service age and obligation

16-33 years of age (officers 17-28) for voluntary military service (with parental consent under 18); no conscription; women serve in military services, but are excluded from ground combat positions and some naval postings; must be citizen of the UK, Commonwealth, or Republic of Ireland; reservists serve a minimum of 3 years, to age 45 or 55; 17 years 6 months of age for voluntary military service by Nepalese citizens in the Brigade of Gurkhas; 16-34 years of age for voluntary military service by Papua New Guinean citizens (2012)

Military expenditures 28/132

2.49% of GDP (2012)

2.48% of GDP (2011)

2.49% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

in 2002, Gibraltar residents voted overwhelmingly by referendum to reject any "shared sovereignty" arrangement between the UK and Spain; the Government of Gibraltar insisted on equal participation in talks between the two countries; Spain disapproved of UK plans to grant Gibraltar greater autonomy; Mauritius and Seychelles claim the Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory); in 2001, the former inhabitants of the archipelago, evicted 1967 - 1973, were granted U.K. citizenship and the right of return, followed by Orders in Council in 2004 that banned rehabitation, a High Court ruling reversed the ban, a Court of Appeal refusal to hear the case, and a Law Lords' decision in 2008 denied the right of return; in addition, the United Kingdom created the world's largest marine protection area around the Chagos islands prohibiting the extraction of any natural resources therein; UK rejects sovereignty talks requested by Argentina, which still claims the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; territorial claim in Antarctica (British Antarctic Territory) overlaps Argentine claim and partially overlaps Chilean claim; Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 11,583 (Eritrea); 11,510 (Iran); 9,467 (Zimbabwe); 9,039 (Afghanistan); 8,509 (Somalia); 5,669 (Pakistan) (2014)

stateless persons: 16 (2014)

Illicit drugs

producer of limited amounts of synthetic drugs and synthetic precursor chemicals; major consumer of Southwest Asian heroin, Latin American cocaine, and synthetic drugs; money-laundering center