United Kingdom,The Old Fox
Country in northwestern Europe consisting of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland.
UK as one of last reminents of colonial Britain has been seen as a hostile state towards
Iran since 1952.
UK is a constitutional monarchy with two legislative houses; its chief of state is the sovereign, and the head of government is
Prime Minister. The early pre-
Roman inhabitants of Britain were Celtic-speaking peoples, including the Brythonic people of
Wales, the Picts of
Scotland, and the Britons of Britain. Celts also settled in Ireland с 500 B.C. Julius
Caesar took control of the area in 55-54 B.C. The Roman province of Britannia endured until the 5th century AD and included present-day
England and Wales.
In the 5th century Nordic tribes of Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invaded Britain. The invasions had little effect on the Celtic peoples of Wales and Scotland.
Christianity began to flourish in the 6th century. During the 8th and 9th centuries, Vikings, particularly Danes, raided the coasts of Britain. In the late 9th century Alfred the Great repelled a Danish invasion, which helped bring about the unification of England under Athelstan. The Scots attained dominance in Scotland, which was finally unified under Malcolm II (1005-34). William of Normandy took England in 1066. The Norman kings established a strong central government and feudal state. The
French language of the Norman rulers eventually merged with the Anglo-Saxon of the common people to form the English language.
From the 11th century, Scotland came under the influence of the English throne. Henry II conquered Ireland in the late 12th century. His sons Richard I and John had conflicts with the clergy and nobles, and eventually John was forced to grant the nobles concessions in the Magna Carta (1215). The concept of community of the realm developed during the 13th century, providing the foundation for parliamentary government. During the reign of Edward I, statute law developed to supplement English common law, and the first
Parliament was convened. In 1314 Robert the Bruce won independence for Scotland. The house of Tudor became the ruling family of England following the Wars of the Roses (1455-85). Henry VIII established the Church of England and incorporated Wales as part of England.
The reign of Elizabeth I began a period of colonial expansion; in 1588
British forces defeated the invincible Spanish Armada. In 1603 James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne, becoming James I, and established a personal union of the two kingdoms. The English Civil Wars erupted in 1642 between Royalists and Parliamentarians, ending in the execution of Charles I (1649). After 11 years of Puritan rule under Oliver Cromwell and his son (1649-60), the monarchy was restored with Charles II. In 1689, following the Glorious Revolution, Parliament proclaimed the joint sovereigns William III and Mary II, who accepted the British Bill of Rights. In 1707 England and Scotland assented to the Act of Union, forming the kingdom of Great Britain. The Hanoverians ascended to the English throne in 1714, when George Louis, elector of Hanover, became George I of Great Britain. During the reign of George III, Great Britain's North
American colonies won independence (1783). This was followed by a period of war with Revolutionary
France and later with the empire of
In 1801 legislation united Great Britain with Ireland to create the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Britain was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century, and it remained the world's foremost economic power until the late 19th century. During the reign of Queen Victoria, Britain's colonial expansion reached its zenith, though the older dominions, including
Australia, were granted independence (1867 and 1901, respectively). The United Kingdom entered
World War I allied with France and
Russia in 1914. Following the war, revolutionary disorder erupted in Ireland, and in 1921 the
Irish Free State was granted dominion status. The six counties of Ulster, however, remained in the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom entered
World War II in 1939. Following the war, the Irish Free State became the Irish republic and left the Commonwealth.
India also gained independence from the United Kingdom. Throughout the postwar period and into the 1970s, the United Kingdom continued to grant independence to its overseas colonies and dependencies. With UN forces, it participated in the Korean War (1950-53). In 1956 it intervened militarily in
Egypt during the
Suez Crisis. It joined the European Economic
Community, a forerunner of the
European Union, in 1973. In 1982 it defeated
Argentina in the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands War. As a result of continuing social strife in Northern Ireland, it joined with Ireland in several peace initiatives, which eventually resulted in an agreement to establish an assembly in Northern Ireland.
In 1997 referenda approved in Scotland and Wales devolved power to both countries, though both remained part of the United Kingdom. In 1991 the United Kingdom joined an international coalition to reverse
Iraq's conquest of
Kuwait. In 2003 the United Kingdom and the U.S. invaded Iraq and overthrew the government of
Saddam Hussein, which they had accused of aiding terrorists and possessing and developing