United Kingdom, officially known as “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK)” is a European country founded in 1922. It is the fifth strongest country in the world (in terms of military) as per 2023 Military Strength Ranking of Global Firepower Index and sixth largest economy by gross domestic product (GDP) as per the World Bank Reports 2023.
The British flag, also known as ‘Union Jack’ is the national flag of the United Kingdom adopted in 1801. The flag contains saltire (“×” lookalike) of Saint Patrick who was a Christian Preacher and a Missionary. It represents Ireland (or maybe just Northern Ireland since Ireland is no longer a part of UK since 1922). The red cross (the “+” lookalike) of Saint George who was a Christian Preacher and a soldier in Roman Army represents England and Wales.
Political Map and Current Demographs
United Kingdom (UK) consist of three countries namely Scotland, England and Wales and one province namely Northern Ireland. According British Census 2021, The state has an estimated population of 67 million individuals. Talking about the religious beliefs, 46.2% are Christians (Anglicans mostly) followed by non-religious making up to 37.2%, Muslims about 6.5%, Hindus 1.7% and so on.
Prime Minister of UK and First Minister of England: Rishi Sunak (2022 – present)
First Minister of Scotland: Humza Yousaf (2023 – present)
First Minister of Wales: Mark Drakeford (2018 – present)
First Minister of Northern Ireland: Paul Givan (2022 – present)
Mayor of London: Sadiq Ahmed Khan (2016 – present)
Governance and Political Science
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) is a parliamentary democracy with constitutional monarchy. It rules over the entire state along with the British Overseas Territories (BOTs) but not crown dependencies. (Learn more about BOTs and crown dependencies: Difference between UK, Britain, England, British Isles etc. – The Profound Report) The ruling British King/Queen of United Kingdom is considered as the head of state while the British Prime Minister is considered as the head of the British Government.
The political system can be divided into three parts:
The Executive level is known as the Crown where the head of state is chosen from the British Royal Family (either a King or Queen). This level includes the King/Queen, the British Prime Minister (elected), civil servants, Council of Ministers, Ministries and so on. It is responsible for ruling the state, government, formulating policies and making decisions.
The legislature level or the Parliament includes the House of Westminster (British Parliament) having House of Commons (Lower House) with 650 members and House of Lords (Upper House) with 778 members. This level is responsible for debates, freedom of speeches, conducting meetings, controlling/guiding the government and decision-making.
There is also local government governed by the people via elections in different cities, towns etc. often referred as ‘municipalities’.
Judiciary level consist of the Supreme Court of United Kingdom including judges, magistrates, tribunal members and coroners. The role of this level is to safeguard the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
Before 43 AD, Today’s United Kingdom was mostly inhabited by various tribes, clans and the Celtic people.
Between 43 AD to 260 AD, Roman Empire ruled over certain part of today’s United Kingdom. The empire started expanding to today’s UK starting from England under King Claudius.
From 260 AD to 275 AD, Gallic Empire ruled the territory after it overthrew Roman Empire under the Gallic King, Postumus.
In 275 AD, Roman Empire under King Probus came back to rule overthrowing Gallic Empire.
Between 275 AD and 927 AD, various empires took over the lands.
In 843 AD, Kingdom of Scotland was founded by King Kenneth I.
In 927 AD, Kingdom of England was founded by King Æthelstan.
In 1171 AD, Lordship of Ireland was founded by King John who was also the King of England.
In 1216 AD, Principality of Wales was founded by King Llywelyn.
In 1653 AD, all of these kingdoms and principalities were united as a single empire named ‘Commonwealth of England’ under the King Oliver Cromwell. This empire ruled over entire today’s British Isle.
In 1659 AD, King Charles II overthrew King Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth of England. He took over the entire today’s British Isles, ruling over England (including today’s Wales), Scotland and Ireland.
In 1707 AD, Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland were founded by George I. The kingdom included the entire British Isle.
In January 1801, Kingdom of Great Britain became ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland’. William Pitt the Younger became the first Prime Minister of UK.
In 1922, the southern region of Ireland left the United Kingdom become an independent nation named as ‘Irish Free State’ (it later became Republic of Ireland in 1937). This led to renaming of UK as ‘United Kingdom Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ over ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland’.