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The official name of the UK is the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and

Northern Ireland".

The name refers to the union of what were once four separate nations: England,

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

England, Scotland and Wales together are Great Britain.

Great Britain and Northern Ireland together are the "United Kingdom of Great

Britain and Northern Ireland" (UK) and its capital is London, which is among the

world’s leading commercial, financial, and cultural centers. Other major cities

include Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester in

England, Belfast and Londonderry in Northern Ireland, Edinburgh and Glasgow in

Scotland, and Swansea and Cardiff in Wales.

Official languages: English; both English and Scots Gaelic in Scotland; both

English and Welsh in Wales.


The history of the United Kingdom as a unified sovereign state began in 1707 with

the political union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland, into a united kingdom

called Great Britain. On this new state the historian Simon Schama said "What began

as a hostile merger would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going

concern in the world... it was one of the most astonishing transformations

in European history." A further Act of Union in 1800 added the Kingdom of

Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

The early years of the unified kingdom of Great Britain were marked by Jacobite

risings which ended with defeat for the Stuart cause at Culloden in 1746. Later, in

1763, victory in the Seven Years War led to the dominance of the British Empire,

which was to be the foremost global power for over a century and grew to become

the largest empire in history. As a result, the culture of the United Kingdom, and its

industrial, political, constitutional, educational and linguistic legacy, is widespread.

In 1922, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Ireland effectively seceded from the

United Kingdom to become the Irish Free State; a day later, Northern Ireland seceded

from the Free State and became part of the United Kingdom. As a result, in 1927 the

United Kingdom changed its formal title to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and

Northern Ireland, “usually shortened to the "United Kingdom", the "UK" or "Britain".

Former parts of the British Empire became independent dominions.

In the Second World War, in which the Soviet Union, Nationalist China and the US

joined Britain as allied powers, Britain and its Empire fought a successful war

against Germany, Italy and Japan. The cost was high and Britain no longer had the

wealth or the inclination to maintain an empire, so it granted independence to most of the

Empire. The new states typically joined the Common wealth of Nations. The United

Kingdom has sought to be a leading member of the United Nations, the European Union

and NATO. Since the 1990s, however, large-scale devolution movements in Northern
Ireland, Scotland and Wales have brought into question the degree of unity of this

constantly evolving political union.

Birth of the Union

The Kingdom of Great Britain came into being on 1 May 1707, as a result of the political

union of the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland. The

terms of the union had been negotiated the previous year, and laid out in the Treaty of Union.

The parliaments of Scotland and of England then each ratified the treaty via respective Acts of

Union. Ally separate states, England and Scotland had shared a monarch since 1603 when on

the death of the childless Elizabeth I, James VI of Scotland became, additionally, James I of

England, in an event known as the Union of the Crowns. Slightly more than one-hundred

years later, the Treaty of Union enabled the two kingdoms to be combined into a single

kingdom, merging the two parliaments into a single Britain. Queen, who was reigning at the

time of the union, had favored deeper political integration between the two kingdoms and

became the first monarch of Great Britain. The union was valuable to England's security

because Scotland relinquished first, the right to choose a different monarch on Anne's death

and second, the right to independently ally with a European power, which could then use

Scotland as a base for the invasion of England.

Although now a single kingdom, certain aspects of the former independent kingdoms

remained separate, as agreed in the terms in the Treaty of Union. Scottish and English
law remained separate, as did the Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Anglican Church

of England. England and Scotland also continued to each have its own system of education.

The creation of Great Britain happened during the War of the Spanish Succession, in

which just before his death in 1702 William III had reactivated the Grand Alliance against

France. His successor, Anne, continued the war. The Duke of Marlborough won a series of

brilliant victories over the French, England's first major battlefield successes on the Continent

since the Hundred Years War. France was nearly brought to its knees by 1709, when King

Louis XIV made a desperate appeal to the French people. Afterwards, his general Marshal

Villars managed to turn the tide in favour of France. A more peace-minded government came

to power in Great Britain, and the treaties of Utrecht and Rastadt in 1713–1714 ended the war.

Union with Ireland

On 1 January 1801, the Great Britain and Ireland joined to form the United Kingdom of

Great Britain and Ireland.

Events that culminated in the union with Ireland had spanned several centuries. Invasions

from England by the ruling Normans from 1170 led to centuries of strife in Ireland and

successive Kings of England sought both to conquer and pillage Ireland, imposing their rule

by force throughout the entire island. In the early 17th century, large-scale settlement by

Protestant settlers from both Scotland and England began, especially in the province of Ulster,

seeing the displacement of many of the native Roman Catholic Irish inhabitants of this part of
Ireland. Since the time of the first Norman invaders from England, Ireland has been subject to

control and regulation, firstly by England then latterly by Great Britain.

After the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Irish Roman Catholics were banned from voting or

attending the Irish Parliament. The new English Protestant ruling class was known as

the Protestant Ascendancy. Towards the end of the 18th century the entirely Protestant Irish

Parliament attained a greater degree of independence from the British Parliament than it had

previously held. Under the Penal Laws no Irish Catholic could sit in the Parliament of Ireland,

even though some 90% of Ireland's population was native Irish Catholic when the first of

these bans was introduced in 1691. This ban was followed by others in 1703 and 1709 as part

of a comprehensive system disadvantaging the Catholic community, and to lesser extent

Protestant dissenters. In 1798, many members of this dissenter tradition made common cause

with Catholics in a rebellion inspired and led by the Society of United Irishmen. It was staged

with the aim of creating a fully independent Ireland as a state with a republican constitution.

Despite assistance from France the Irish Rebellion of 1798 was put down by British forces.

Possibly influenced by the War of American Independence (1775–1783), a united force of

Irish volunteers used their influence to campaign for greater independence for the Irish

Parliament. This was granted in 1782, giving free trade and legislative independence to

Ireland. However, the French revolution had encouraged the increasing calls for

moderate constitutional reform. The Society of United Irishmen, made up of Presbyterians

from Belfast and both Anglicans and Catholics in Dublin, campaigned for an end to British

domination. Their leader Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763–98) worked with the Catholic

Convention of 1792 which demanded an end to the penal laws. Failing to win the support of
the British government, he travelled to Paris, encouraging a number of French naval forces to

land in Ireland to help with the planned insurrections. These were slaughtered by government

forces, but these rebellions convinced the British under Prime Minister William Pitt that the

only solution was to end Irish independence once and for all.

Irish independence and partition

In 1912, the House of Lords managed to delay a Home Rule bill passed by the House of

Commons. It was enacted as the Government of Ireland Act 1914. During these two years the

threat of religious civil war hung over Ireland with the creation of the Unionist Ulster

Volunteers opposed to the Act and their nationalist counterparts, the Irish

Volunteers supporting the Act. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 put the crisis on political

hold. A disorganized Easter Rising in 1916 was brutally suppressed by the British, which had

the effect of galvanizing Catholic demands for independence. Prime Minister David Lloyd

George failed to introduce Home Rule in 1918 and in the December 1918 General

Election Sinn Féin won a majority of Irish seats. Its MPs refused to take their seats at

Westminster, instead choosing to sit in the First Dáil parliament in Dublin. A declaration of

independence was ratified by Dáil Éireann, the self-declared Republic's parliament in January

1919. An Anglo-Irish War was fought between Crown forces and the Irish Republican

Army between January 1919 and June 1921. The war ended with the Anglo-Irish Treaty of

December 1921 that established the Irish Free State. Six northern, predominantly Protestant

counties became Northern Ireland and have remained part of Britain ever since, despite

demands of the Catholic minority to unite with the Republic of Ireland. Britain officially
adopted the name "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" by the Royal and

Parliamentary Titles Act 1927.


The Union Jack, or Union Flag, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. The flag also

has an official or semi-official status in some other Commonwealth realms; for example, it is

known by law in Canada as the "Royal Union Flag".[4]Further, it is used as an official flag in

some of the smaller British overseas territories. The Union Jack also appears in the

canton (upper left-hand quarter) of the flags of several nations and territories that are former

British possessions ordominions.

The claim that the term Union Jack properly refers only to naval usage has been disputed,

following historical investigations by the Flag Institute in 2013.

The origins of the earlier flag of Great Britain date back to 1606. James VI of Scotland had

inherited the English and Irish thrones in 1603 as James I, thereby uniting the

crowns of England, Scotland, and Ireland in a personal union, although the three kingdoms

remained separate states. On 12 April 1606, a new flag to represent this regal union between

England and Scotland was specified in a royal decree, according to which the flag of

England (a red cross on a white background, known as St George's Cross), and the flag of

Scotland (a white saltire on a blue background, known as the Saltire or St Andrew's Cross),
would be joined together, forming the flag of England and Scotland for maritime purposes.

King James also began to refer to a "Kingdom of Great Britain", although the union remained

a personal one.

The present design of the Union Flag dates from a Royal proclamation following

the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag combines aspects of three older

national flags: the red cross of St George of the Kingdom of England, the white saltire of St

Andrew for Scotland (which two were united in the first Union Flag), and the red saltire of St

Patrick to represent Ireland.

Notably, the home country of Wales is not represented separately in the Union Jack, being

only indirectly represented through the flag of England representing the former Kingdom of

England (which included Wales).


The Union Jack is used as a jack by commissioned warships and submarines of the Royal

Navy, and by commissioned army and Royal Air Force vessels. When at anchor or alongside,

it is flown from the jack staff at the bow of the ship. When a ship is underway, the Union Jack

is only flown from the jack staff when the ship is dressed for a special occasion, such as the

Queen's official birthday.

The Union Jack is worn at the masthead of a ship to indicate the presence of the Sovereign

or an Admiral of the Fleet.[56] It is also worn at the masthead of Her Majesty's Canadian

ships within Canadian territorial waters on certain days of the year, such as the Queen's

official birthday and Commonwealth Day.[57] The Union Flag may also be flown from the

yardarm to indicate that a court-martial is in progress, though these are now normally held at

shore establishments.

No law has been passed making the Union Jack the national flag of the United Kingdom: it

has become one through precedent. Its first recorded recognition as a national flag came in

1908, when it was stated in Parliament that "the Union Jack should be regarded as the

National flag". A more categorical statement was made by Home Secretary Sir John Gilmour,

in 1933 when he stated that "the Union Flag is the national flag and may properly be flown by

any British subject on land. “But it is still officially a flag of the monarch, rather than the


Civilian use is permitted on land, but non-naval/military use at sea is prohibited.

Unauthorized use of the flag in the 17th century to avoid paying harbor duties – a privilege

restricted to naval ships – caused James's successor, Charles I, to order that use of the flag on

naval vessels be restricted to His Majesty's ships "upon pain of our high displeasure. It

remains a criminal offence under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 to display the Union Flag

(other than the "pilot jack" – see below) from a British ship. Naval ships will fly the white

ensign, merchant and private boats can fly the red ensign, and others with special permission

such as naval yacht clubs can fly the blue ensign. All of the colored ensigns contain the union

flag as part of the design.

The Court of the Lord Lyon, which has legal jurisdiction in heraldic matters in Scotland,

confirms that the Union Jack "is the correct flag for all citizens and corporate bodies of the

United Kingdom to fly to demonstrate their loyalty and their nationality.

The predecessor of the Union Jack, the flag of Great Britain, came into use in what is now

Canada at the time of the Scottish settlement of Nova Scotia in 1621. At the close of the Great

Canadian Flag Debate of 1964, which resulted in the adoption of the Maple Leaf Flag as

Canada's national flag in 1965, the Parliament of Canada voted to make the Union Flag the

symbol of Canada's membership of the Commonwealth and its allegiance to the crown. The

move was a concession given to conservatives who preferred to keep the old flag, with its

Union Flag in the canton. The Royal Union Flag (as it is now known in Canada) is flown

alongside the Maple-Leaf Flag on Commonwealth Day and other royal occasions and

anniversaries. The Union Flag was also the official flag of the Dominion of

Newfoundland (1931–1949) and continued after Newfoundland became a Canadian province

(now Newfoundland and Labrador) until 1980.


The United Kingdom has the fifth-largest national economy (and second largest in Europe)

measured by nominal GDP and ninth largest in the world (and third largest in Europe)

measured by purchasing power parity (PPP). The UK economy comprises (in descending

order of size) the economies of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2013 the
UK was the fourth-largest exporter in the world and the fourth largest importer, and had the

second largest stock of inward foreign direct investment and the second-largest stock

of outward foreign direct investment. The UK is one of the world's

most globalized economies.

Over the past five years, economic freedom in the U.K. has advanced by 1.3 points. Led by

a sizeable improvement stemming from corporate tax rate cuts in recent years, score

improvements have occurred in four of the 10 economic freedoms, including fiscal freedom

and property rights.

Historically a champion of economic freedom in Europe, the United Kingdom has

developed its economy based on a strong rule of law, an open trading environment, and one of

the world’s most advanced financial sectors. A relatively liberal labor market by European

standards complements one of the world’s most efficient business environments. Large

government spending, which still takes up nearly half of the domestic economy, has

consumed resources that could have enabled additional private-sector growth.

The service sector dominates the UK economy, contributing around 78% of GDP;

the financial services industry is particularly important and London is the world's largest

financial Centre (tied with New York) The British aerospace industry is the second- or third-

largest national aerospace industry depending on the method of measurement.

The pharmaceutical industry plays an important role in the economy and the UK has the third-

highest share of global pharmaceutical R&D. The automotive industry is also a major
employer and exporter. The British economy is boosted by North Sea oil and gas production;

its reserves were valued at an estimated £250 billion in 2007.There are significant regional

variations in prosperity, with the South East of England and southern Scotland the richest

areas per capita. London has the largest city GDP in Europe.

In the 18th century the UK was the first country to industrialize during the 19th century

had a dominant role in the global economy. From the late 19th century the Second Industrial

Revolution in the United States and Germany presented an increasing economic challenge,

and the costs of fighting World War I and World War II further weakened the UK's relative

position. However it still maintains a significant role in the world economy, particularly

in financial services and the knowledge economy.

More recently, the UK entered a recession during the financial crisis of 2007–08, it’s first

for nearly two decades, and initially experienced a deeper downturn than all of the G7 except

Japan. However, since 2013 the UK has been in a nascent economic recovery and is firmly in

expansion territory. Since 2010, The Government has been pursuing an austerity program

aimed at cutting the budget deficit. In the financial year 2009–2010 this was 11% of GDP, it

is now 5%.

Government involvement in the British economy is primarily exercised by HM Treasury,

headed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Department for Business, Innovation and

Skills. Since 1979 management of the UK economy has followed a broadly laissez-faire

approach. The Bank of England is the UK's central bank and its Monetary Policy
Committee is responsible for setting interest rates. The currency of the UK is the pound

sterling, which is also the world's third-largest reserve currency after the US dollar and the

euro, and also the fourth-most-valued currency in the world, behind the Kuwaiti

Dinar, Bahraini Dinar, and Omani Rial, and the most valued currency outside the Middle

East. The UK is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the European Union, the G7,

the G8, the G20, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Co-

operation and Development, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, Asian

Infrastructure Investment Bank and the United Nations.


Her Majesty's Government (HMG), commonly referred to as the British Government, is

the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Government is led by the Prime Minister, who selects all the remaining ministers. The

Prime Minister and the other most senior ministers belong to the supreme decision-making

committee, known as the Cabinet. The Government Ministers all sit in Parliament, and

are accountable to it. The Government is dependent on Parliament to make primary

legislation, and since the Fixed-terms Parliaments Act 2011, general elections are held every

five years to elect a new House of Commons, unless there is a successful vote of no

confidence in the Government in the House of Commons, in which case an election may be

held in short order. After an election, the monarch selects as Prime Minister the leader of the

party most likely to command a majority of MPs in the House of Commons.

Under the uncodified British constitution, executive authority lies with the monarch,

although this authority is exercised only by, or on the advice of, the Prime Minister and the

Cabinet. The Cabinet members advise the monarch as members of the Privy Council. They

also exercise power directly as leaders of the Government Departments.

The current Prime Minister is David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, which

was elected to government in the General Election of 7 May 2015.


A key principle of the British Constitution is that the Government is responsible to

Parliament. This is called responsible government.

The UK is a constitutional monarchy in which the reigning monarch (that is, the King or

Queen who is the Head of State at any given time) in practice does not make any political

decisions. All political decisions are taken by the government and Parliament. This

constitutional state of affairs is the result of a long history of constraining and reducing the

power of the monarch, beginning with the Magna Carta in 1215.

Parliament is split into two houses: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The

House of Commons is the lower house and is the more powerful. The House of Lords is the

upper house and although it can vote to amend proposed laws, the House of Commons can

usually vote to overrule its amendments. Although the House of Lords can introduce bills,
most important laws are introduced in the House of Commons - and most of those are

introduced by the government, which schedules the vast majority of parliamentary time in the

Commons. Parliamentary time is essential for bills to be passed into law, because they must

pass through a number of readings before becoming law. Prior to introducing a bill, the

government may run a public consultation to solicit feedback from the public and businesses,

and often may have already introduced and discussed the policy in the Queen's Speech, or in

an election manifesto or party platform.

Ministers of the Crown are responsible to the House in which they sit; they make

statements in that House and take questions from members of that House. For most senior

ministers this is usually the elected House of Commons rather than the House of Lords. There

have been some recent exceptions to this: for example, cabinet ministers Lord

Mandelson (First Secretary of State) and Lord Adonis (Secretary of State for Transport) sat in

the Lords and were responsible to that House during the government of Gordon Brown.

Since the start of Edward VII's reign, the Prime Minister has always been an elected

member of Parliament (MP) and therefore accountable to the House of Commons. The Lords

have very limited powers in relation to money bills and, for this reason; it would likely be

politically unacceptable for the budget speech to be given in the Lords, with MPs unable to

directly question the Chancellor. The last Chancellor of the Exchequer to be a member of the

House of Lords was Lord Denman (who served as interim Chancellor of the Exchequer for

one month in 1834).

Under the British system the Government is required by convention and for practical

reasons to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons. It requires the support of the

House of Commons for the maintenance of supply (by voting through the government's

budgets) and in order to pass primary legislation. By convention if a government loses the

confidence of the House of Commons it must either resign or a General Election is held. The

support of the Lords, while useful to the government in getting its legislation passed without

delay, is not vital. A government is not required to resign even if it loses the confidence of the

Lords and is defeated in key votes in that House. The House of Commons is thus

the responsible House.

The Prime Minister is held to account during Prime Minister's Question Time (PMQs)

which provides an opportunity for MPs from all parties to question the PM on any subject.

There are also departmental questions when ministers answer questions relating to their

specific departmental brief. Unlike PMQs both the cabinet ministers for the department and

junior ministers within the department may answer on behalf of the government, depending

on the topic of the question.

During debates on government legislation ministers, usually with departmental responsibility

for the bill, will lead the debate for the government and respond to points made by MPs or


Committees of both the House of Commons and House of Lords hold the government to

account scrutinize its work and examine in detail proposals for legislation. Ministers appear

before committees to give evidence and answer questions.

Government ministers are also required by convention and the Ministerial Code, when

Parliament is sitting, to make major statements regarding government policy or issues of

national importance to Parliament. This allows MPs or Lords to question the government on

the statement. When the government instead chooses to make announcements first outside

Parliament, it is often the subject of significant criticism from MPs and the Speaker of the

House of Commons.


The British Monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, is the head of state and the sovereign,

but not the head of government.

The Queen takes little direct part in governing the country, and remains neutral in political

affairs. However, the legal authority of the state that is vested in the Sovereign and known

as the Crown remains the source of the executive power exercised by the Government.

In addition to explicit statutory authority, in many areas the Crown also possesses a body

of powers known as the Royal Prerogative, which can be used for many purposes, from the

issue or withdrawal of passports to declaration of war. By long-standing custom, most of

these powers are delegated from the Sovereign to various ministers or other officers of the

Crown, who may use them without having to obtain the consent of Parliament.
The head of the Government, the Prime Minister, also has weekly meetings with the

monarch, when she "has a right and a duty to express her views on Government matters....

These meetings, as with all communications between The Queen and her Government, remain

strictly confidential. Having expressed her views, The Queen abides by the advice of her




The city of Cambridge (/keɪmbrɪdʒ/kaym-brij) is a university city and the county

town of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia, on the River Cam, about 50 miles

(80 km) north of London. According to the United Kingdom Census 2011, its population was

123,867 (including 24,488 students).This makes Cambridge the second largest city in

Cambridgeshire after Peterborough, and the 54th largest in the United Kingdom. There is

archaeological evidence of settlement in the area during the Bronze Age and Roman times;

under Viking rule Cambridge became an important trading Centre. The first town charters

were granted in the 12th century, although city status was not conferred until 1951.

Cambridge is most widely known as the home of the University of Cambridge, founded in

1209 and consistently ranked one of the top five universities in the world. The university

includes the renowned Cavendish Laboratory, King's College Chapel, and the Cambridge
University Library. The Cambridge skyline is dominated by the last two buildings, along with

the spire of the Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church on Hills Rd, the chimney

of Addenbrooke's Hospital in the far south of the city and St John's College Chapel tower.

Today, Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a

play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the city. Its economic strengths lie in

industries such as software and bioscience, many start-up companies having been spun out of

the university. Over 40% of the workforce has a higher education qualification, more than

twice the national average. Cambridge is also home to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus,

one of the largest biomedical research clusters in the world, soon to be home to AstraZeneca,

a hotel and relocated Papworth Hospital.


London is the capital city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River

Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its

founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium.[5]London's ancient core, the City of

London, largely retains its 1.12-square-mile (2.9 km2) medieval boundaries and in 2011 had a

resident population of 7,375, making it the smallest city in England. Since at least the 19th

century, the term London has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core. The

bulk of this conurbation forms the Greater London administrative area (coterminous with the

London region), governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.
London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education,

entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and

development, tourism, and transport all contributing to its prominence. It is one of the world's

leading financial centres and has the fifth-or sixth-largest metropolitan area GDP in the

world depending on measurement. London is a world cultural capital. It is the world's most-

visited city as measured by international arrivals and has the world's largest city airport

system measured by passenger traffic. London’s 43 universities form the largest concentration

of higher education institutes in Europe. In 2012, London became the first city to host the

modern Summer Olympic Games three times.

London has a diverse range of peoples and cultures, and more than 300 languages are

spoken within Greater London. The region had an official population of 8,416,535 in

2013, the largest of any municipality in the European Union, and accounting for 12.5 percent

of the UK population. London’s urban area is the second most populous in the EU, after Paris,

with 9,787,426 inhabitants according to the 2011 census. The city's metropolitan area is one

of the most populous in Europe with 13,614,409 inhabitants, while the Greater London

Authority puts the population of London metropolitan region at 21 million. London was

the world's most populous city from around 1831 to 1925.

London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site

comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret's Church; and

the historic settlement of Greenwich (in which the Royal Observatory, Greenwich marks

the Prime Meridian, 0° longitude, and GMT).Other famous landmarks include Buckingham

Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar
Square, and The Shard. London is home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sporting

events and other cultural institutions, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate

Modern, British Library and 40 West End theatres. The London Underground is the oldest

underground railway network in the world.

London Eye

The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River

Thames in London. Also known as the Millennium Wheel, its official name was originally

published as the British Airways London Eye, then the Merlin Entertainments London Eye,

then the EDF Energy London Eye. Since mid-January 2015, it has been known in branding as

the Coca-Cola London Eye, following an agreement signed in September 2014.

The entire structure is 135 meters (443 ft) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 meters

(394 ft). When erected in 1999 it was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. Its height was surpassed

by the 160 m (520 ft) Star of Nanchang in 2006, the 165 m (541 ft) Singapore Flyer in 2008,

and the 167.6 m (550 ft) High Roller (Las Vegas) in 2014. Supported by an A-frame on one

side only, unlike the taller Nanchang and Singapore wheels, the Eye is described by its

operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel"

Palace of Westminter

The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House

of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as
the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the Middlesex bank of

the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London. Its name, which derives from

the neighboring Westminster Abbey, may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a

medieval building complex that was destroyed by fire in 1834, and its replacement, the New

Palace that stands today. For ceremonial purposes, the palace retains its original style and

status as a royal residence and is the property of the Crown.

The first royal palace was built on the site in the eleventh century, and Westminster was

the primary residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in

1512. After that, it served as the home of the Parliament of England, which had been meeting

there since the thirteenth century, and also as the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in

and around Westminster Hall. In 1834, an even greater fire ravaged the heavily rebuilt Houses

of Parliament, and the only medieval structures of significance to survive were Westminster

Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephen's, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, and the Jewel Tower.

The subsequent competition for the reconstruction of the Palace was won by the

architect Charles Barry, whose design was for new buildings in the Gothic Revival style,

specifically inspired by the English Perpendicular Gothic style of the 14th-16th centuries. The

remains of the Old Palace (with the exception of the detached Jewel Tower) were

incorporated into its much larger replacement, which contains over 1,100 rooms organized

symmetrically around two series of courtyards. Part of the New Palace's area of 3.24 hectares

(8 acres) was reclaimed from the Thames, which is the setting of its principal 266-metre

(873 ft) façade, called the River Front. Barry was assisted by Augustus W. N. Pugin, a leading

authority on Gothic architecture and style, who provided designs for the decorations and
furnishings of the Palace. Construction started in 1840 and lasted for thirty years, suffering

great delays and cost overruns, as well as the death of both leading architects; works for the

interior decoration continued intermittently well into the twentieth century. Major

conservation work has been carried out since, to reverse the effects of London's air pollution,

and extensive repairs took place after the Second World War, including the reconstruction of

the Commons Chamber following its bombing in 1941.

The Palace is one of the centres of political life in the United Kingdom; "Westminster" has

become a metonym for the UK Parliament, and the Westminster system of government has

taken its name after it. The Elizabeth Tower, in particular, which is often referred to by the

name of its main bell, "Big Ben", is an iconic landmark of London and the United Kingdom in

general, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and an emblem of parliamentary

democracy. The Palace of Westminster has been a Grade I listed building since 1970 and part

of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the London residence and principal workplace of the monarchy of

the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of

state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focus for the British people at times of

national rejoicing.

Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today's

palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a site which had
been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was subsequently acquired by King George

III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte and was known as "The Queen's

House". During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and

Edward Blore, who formed three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace

finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen

Victoria in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th

centuries, including the East front, which contains the well-known balcony on which the royal

family traditionally congregates to greet crowds outside. However, the palace chapel was

destroyed by a German bomb during World War II; the Queen's Gallery was built on the site

and opened to the public in 1962 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection.

The state rooms, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public each year

for most of August and September, as part of the Palace's Summer Opening.


Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England, about 2 miles (3 km)

west of Amesbury and 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the

world, Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks. It is in

the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England,

including several hundred burial mounds.

Archaeologists believe it was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Radiocarbon

dating in 2008 suggested that the first stones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC, whilst

another theory suggests that bluestones may have been raised at the site as early as 3000 BC.
The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the

monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. The site and its surroundings were added to

the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986 in a co-listing with Avebury Henge. It is a

national legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument. Stonehenge is owned by the

Crown and managed by English Heritage, while the surrounding land is owned by

the National Trust.

Archaeological evidence found by the Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2008 indicates that

Stonehenge could have been a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. The dating

of cremated remains found on the site indicate that deposits contain human bone from as early

as 3000 BC, when the ditch and bank were first dug. Such deposits continued at Stonehenge

for at least another 500 years.