United Kingdom: The Truth, Knowledge And History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

United Kingdom

Introduction As the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith, 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 withdraw 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, a founding member of NATO, and of the Commonwealth, the UK pursues a global approach to foreign policy; it currently is weighing the degree of its integration with continental Europe. A member of the EU, it chose to remain outside the Economic and Monetary Union for the time being. Constitutional reform is also a significant issue in the UK. The Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly were established in 1999, but the latter was suspended until May 2007 due to wrangling over the peace process.
History On 1 May 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain was created by the political union of the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland. This event was the result of the Treaty of Union that was agreed on 22 July 1706, and then ratified by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland each passing an Act of Union in 1707. Almost a century later, the Kingdom of Ireland, already under English control by 1691, joined the Kingdom of Great Britain with the passing of the Act of Union 1800. Although England and Scotland had been separate states prior to 1707, they had been in personal union since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when James VI King of Scots had inherited the throne of the Kingdoms of England and Ireland and moved his court from Edinburgh to London.

In its first century, the United Kingdom played an important role in developing Western ideas of the parliamentary system as well as making significant contributions to literature, the arts, and science. The UK-led Industrial Revolution transformed the country and fuelled the growing British Empire. During this time, like other great powers, the UK was involved in colonial exploitation, including the Atlantic slave trade, although the passing of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 made it the first country to prohibit trade in slaves.

After the defeat of Napoleon in the Napoleonic Wars, the UK emerged as the principal naval power of the 19th century and remained an eminent power into the mid-20th century. The British Empire expanded to its maximum size by 1921, gaining the League of Nations mandate over former German and Ottoman colonies after World War I. One year later, the BBC, the world’s first large-scale international broadcasting network, was created.

Long simmering tensions in Ireland led to the partition of the island in 1920, followed by independence for the Irish Free State in 1922 with Northern Ireland remaining within the UK. As a result, in 1927, the formal name of the UK was changed to its current name, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The UK fought Nazi Germany as one of the major Allied powers of World War II. At one stage in 1940, amid the Battle of Britain, it stood alone against the Axis. After the victory, the UK played a key role in designing a new world order. World War II left the United Kingdom financially damaged. However, Marshall Aid and costly loans taken from both Canada and the United States helped the UK on the road to recovery.

The immediate post-war years saw the establishment of the Welfare State, including among the world’s first and most comprehensive public health services, while the demands of a recovering economy attracted immigrants from all over the Commonwealth. Although the new postwar limits of Britain’s political role were confirmed by the Suez Crisis of 1956, the international spread of the English language meant the continuing influence of its literature and culture, while from the 1960s its popular culture also found influence abroad.

Following a period of global economic slowdown and industrial strife in the 1970s, the 1980s saw the inflow of substantial North Sea oil revenues and economic growth. The premiership of Margaret Thatcher marked a significant change of direction from the post-war political and economic consensus; a path that has continued under the New Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown since 1997.

The United Kingdom was one of the 12 founding members of the European Union at its launch in 1992 with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Prior to that, it had been a member of the EU’s forerunner, the European Economic Community (EEC), from 1973. The attitude of the present Labour government towards further integration with this organisation is mixed, with the Official Opposition, the Conservative Party, favouring less powers and competencies being transferred to the EU.

The end of the 20th century saw major changes to the governance of the UK with the establishment of devolved national administrations for Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales following pre-legislative referenda.

Geography Location: 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
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 244,820 sq km
land: 241,590 sq km
water: 3,230 sq km
note: includes Rockall and Shetland Islands
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 360 km
border countries: Ireland 360 km
Coastline: 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
Climate: temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast
Terrain: mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast
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: arable land: 23.23%
permanent crops: 0.2%
other: 76.57% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,700 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 160.6 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 11.75 cu km/yr (22%/75%/3%)
per capita: 197 cu m/yr (1994)
Natural hazards: winter windstorms; floods
Environment – current issues: continues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (has met Kyoto Protocol target of a 12.5% reduction from 1990 levels and intends to meet the legally binding target and move toward a domestic goal of a 20% cut in emissions by 2010); 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
Politics The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy: Queen Elizabeth II is head of state of the UK as well as of fifteen other Commonwealth countries, putting the UK in a personal union with those other states. The Crown has sovereignty over the Crown Dependencies of the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, which are not part of the United Kingdom though the UK government manages their foreign affairs and defence and the UK Parliament has the authority to legislate on their behalf.

Since the United Kingdom is one of the three countries in the world today that does not have a codified constitution, the Constitution of the United Kingdom consists mostly of written sources, including statutes, judge made case law, and international treaties. As there is no technical difference between ordinary statutes and “constitutional law,” the UK Parliament can perform “constitutional reform” simply by passing Acts of Parliament and thus has the power to change or abolish almost any written or unwritten element of the constitution. However, no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change.

The UK has a parliamentary government based on the Westminster system that has been emulated around the world — a legacy of the British Empire. The Parliament of the United Kingdom that meets in the Palace of Westminster has two houses: an elected House of Commons and an appointed House of Lords, and any Bill passed requires Royal Assent to become law. It is the ultimate legislative authority in the United Kingdom since the devolved parliament in Scotland and devolved assemblies in Northern Ireland, and Wales are not sovereign bodies and could be abolished by the UK parliament despite being established following public approval as expressed in referenda.

The position of Prime Minister, the UK’s head of government, belongs to the Member of Parliament who can obtain the confidence of a majority in the House of Commons, usually the current leader of the largest political party in that chamber. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are formally appointed by the Monarch to form Her Majesty’s Government. Though the Prime Minister chooses the Cabinet, and by convention HM The Queen respects the Prime Minister’s choices. The Cabinet is traditionally drawn from members of the Prime Minister’s party in both legislative houses, and mostly from the House of Commons, to which they are responsible. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and Cabinet, all of whom are sworn into Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, and become Ministers of the Crown. The Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, leader of the Labour Party, has been Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service since 27 June 2007.

For elections to the House of Commons, the UK is currently divided into 646 constituencies, with 529 in England, 18 in Northern Ireland, 59 in Scotland and 40 in Wales, though this number will rise to 650 at the next General Election. Each constituency elects one Member of Parliament by simple plurality. General Elections are called by the Monarch when the Prime Minister so advises. Though there is no minimum term for a Parliament, the Parliament Act (1911) requires that a new election must be called within five years of the previous general election.

The UK’s three major political parties are the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, and the Liberal Democrats, who won between them 616 out of the 646 seats available in the House of Commons at the 2005 general election. Most of the remaining seats were won by parties that only contest elections in one part of the UK such as the Scottish National Party (Scotland only), Plaid Cymru (Wales only), and the Democratic Unionist Party, Social Democratic and Labour Party, Ulster Unionist Party, and Sinn Féin (Northern Ireland only, though Sinn Féin also contests elections in Ireland). In accordance with party policy, no elected Sinn Féin Member of Parliament has ever attended the House of Commons to speak in the House on behalf of their constituents as Members of Parliament are required to take an oath of allegiance to the Monarch.

For elections to the European Parliament, the UK currently has 78 MEPs, elected in 12 multi-member constituencies, though this total will drop to 72 at the 2009 elections. Questions over sovereignty have been brought forward due to the UK’s membership of the European Union.

People Population: 60,943,912 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.9% (male 5,287,590/female 5,036,881)
15-64 years: 67.1% (male 20,698,645/female 20,185,040)
65 years and over: 16% (male 4,186,561/female 5,549,195) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39.9 years
male: 38.8 years
female: 41 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.276% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.65 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.05 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.17 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.93 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.49 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.85 years
male: 76.37 years
female: 81.46 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.66 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 51,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 500 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Briton(s), British (collective plural)
adjective: British
Ethnic groups: white (of which English 83.6%, Scottish 8.6%, Welsh 4.9%, Northern Irish 2.9%) 92.1%, black 2%, Indian 1.8%, Pakistani 1.3%, mixed 1.2%, other 1.6% (2001 census)
Religions: Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) 71.6%, Muslim 2.7%, Hindu 1%, other 1.6%, unspecified or none 23.1% (2001 census)
Languages: English, Welsh (about 26% of the population of Wales), Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has completed five or more years of schooling
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 5.6% of GDP (2005)
Government 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
Capital: name: London
geographic coordinates: 51 30 N, 0 10 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: 34 two-tier counties, 32 London boroughs and 1 City of London or Greater London, 36 metropolitan counties, 46 unitary authorities
two-tier counties: Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Durham, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Sussex, Wiltshire, 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 counties: 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, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bracknell Forest, Brighton and Hove, City of Bristol, Darlington, Derby, East Riding of Yorkshire, Halton, Hartlepool, County of Herefordshire, Isle of Wight, City of Kingston upon Hull, Leicester, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North Somerset, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Reading, Redcar and Cleveland, Rutland, Slough, South Gloucestershire, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Telford and Wrekin, Thurrock, Torbay, Warrington, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham, York
Northern Ireland: 26 district council areas
district council areas: Antrim, Ards, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Belfast, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Coleraine, Cookstown, Craigavon, Derry, Down, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Larne, Limavady, Lisburn, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newry and Mourne, Newtownabbey, North Down, Omagh, Strabane
Scotland: 32 unitary authorities
unitary authorities: 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, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands
Independence: England has existed as a unified entity since the 10th century; the union between England and Wales, begun in 1284 with the Statute of Rhuddlan, was not formalized until 1536 with an Act of Union; in another Act of Union in 1707, England and Scotland agreed to permanently join as Great Britain; the legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland was implemented in 1801, with the adoption of the name the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 formalized a partition of Ireland; six northern Irish counties remained part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland and the current name of the country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was adopted in 1927
National holiday: the UK does not celebrate one particular national holiday
Constitution: unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice
Legal system: based on common law tradition with early Roman and modern continental influences; has nonbinding judicial review of Acts of Parliament under the Human Rights Act of 1998; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage: 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 James Gordon BROWN (since 27 June 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually the prime minister
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of House of Lords (618 seats; consisting of approximately 500 life peers, 92 hereditary peers, and 26 clergy) and House of Commons (646 seats since 2005 elections; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-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 5 May 2005 (next to be held by June 2010)
election results: House of Commons – percent of vote by party – Labor 35.2%, Conservative 32.3%, Liberal Democrats 22%, other 10.5%; seats by party – Labor 355, Conservative 198, Liberal Democrat 62, other 31; seats by party in the House of Commons as of 21 November 2008 – Labor 350, Conservative 192, Liberal Democrat 63, Scottish National Party/Plaid Cymru 10, Democratic Unionist 9, Sinn Fein 5, other 17
note: in 1998 elections were held for a Northern Ireland Assembly (because of unresolved disputes among existing parties, the transfer of power from London to Northern Ireland came only at the end of 1999 and has been suspended four times, the latest occurring in October 2002 and lasting until 8 May 2007); in 1999, the UK held the first elections for a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly, the most recent of which were held in May 2007
Judicial branch: House of Lords (highest court of appeal; several Lords of Appeal in Ordinary are appointed by the monarch for life); Supreme Courts of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (comprising the Courts of Appeal, the High Courts of Justice, and the Crown Courts); Scotland’s Court of Session and Court of the Justiciary
Political parties and leaders: Conservative [David CAMERON]; Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [Peter ROBINSON]; Labor Party [Gordon BROWN]; Liberal Democrats [Nick CLEGG]; Party of Wales (Plaid Cymru) [Ieuan Wyn JONES]; Scottish National Party or SNP [Alex SALMOND]; Sinn Fein (Northern Ireland) [Gerry ADAMS]; Social Democratic and Labor Party or SDLP (Northern Ireland) [Mark DURKAN]; Ulster Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [Sir Reg EMPEY]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Confederation of British Industry; National Farmers’ Union; Trades Union Congress
International organization participation: ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, C, CBSS (observer), CDB, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, ESA, EU, FAO, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SECI (observer), UN, UN Security Council, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Sir Nigel E. SHEINWALD
chancery: 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 588-6500
FAX: [1] (202) 588-7870
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco
consulate(s): Denver, Orlando
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Robert Holmes TUTTLE
embassy: 24 Grosvenor Square, London, W1A 1AE
mailing address: PSC 801, Box 40, FPO AE 09498-4040
telephone: [44] (0) 20 7499-9000
FAX: [44] (0) 20 7629-9124
consulate(s) general: Belfast, Edinburgh
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
Culture The culture of the United Kingdom refers to the patterns of human activity and symbolism associated with the British people and the United Kingdom. It is informed by the UK’s history as a developed island country, monarchy, imperial power and, particularly, as consisting of four countries—England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales—which each have their own preserved and distinctive customs and symbolism.

As a direct result of the British Empire, British cultural influence (such as the English language) can be observed in the language and culture of a geographically wide assortment of countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, South Africa, the United States, and the British overseas territories. These states are sometimes collectively known as the Anglosphere. As well as the British influence on its empire, the empire also influenced British culture, particularly British cuisine. Innovations and movements within the wider-culture of Europe have also changed the United Kingdom; Humanism, Protestantism, and representative democracy are borrowed from broader Western culture.

The Industrial Revolution, with its origins in the UK, brought about major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation, and had a profound effect on the socio-economic and cultural conditions of the world. Popular culture of the United Kingdom has impacted upon the world in the form of the British invasion, Britpop and British television broadcasting. British literature and British poetry, particularly that of William Shakespeare, is revered across the world.

Economy Economy – overview: The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is one of the quintet of trillion dollar economies of Western Europe. Over the past two decades, the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. 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 became a net importer of energy in 2005; energy industries now contribute about 4% to GDP. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance. Since emerging from recession in 1992, Britain’s economy enjoyed the longest period of expansion on record during which time growth outpaced most of Western Europe. The global economic slowdown, tight credit, and falling home prices, however, pushed Britain back into recession in the latter half of 2008 and prompted the BROWN government to implement a number of new measures to stimulate the economy and stabilize the financial markets; these include part-nationalizing the banking system, cutting taxes, suspending public sector borrowing rules, and bringing forward public spending on capital projects. The Bank of England periodically coordinates interest rate moves with the European Central Bank, but Britain remains outside the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and opinion polls show a majority of Britons oppose joining the euro.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $2.279 trillion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $2.787 trillion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 1.1% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $37,400 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 0.9%
industry: 22.8%
services: 76.2% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 31.2 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 18.2%
services: 80.4% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate: 5.5% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 14% (2006 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 28.5% (1999)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 34 (2005)
Investment (gross fixed): 16.7% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.107 trillion
expenditures: $1.242 trillion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: 6 April – 5 April
Public debt: 47.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.8% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: NA
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 5.52% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: NA
Stock of quasi money: NA
Stock of domestic credit: $5.278 trillion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $3.859 trillion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, poultry; fish
Industries: 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
Electricity – production: 371 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 348.5 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 3.398 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 8.613 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 73.8%
hydro: 0.9%
nuclear: 23.7%
other: 1.6% (2001)
Oil – production: NA
Oil – consumption: 1.763 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – exports: 1.749 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 1.673 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 3.6 billion bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 72.3 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 91.1 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 10.4 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 29.2 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 412 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$72.54 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $468.7 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco
Exports – partners: US 14.2%, Germany 11.1%, France 8.1%, Ireland 8%, Netherlands 6.8%, Belgium 5.3%, Spain 4.5%, Italy 4.1% (2007)
Imports: $645.7 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: manufactured goods, machinery, fuels; foodstuffs
Imports – partners: Germany 14.2%, US 8.6%, China 7.3%, Netherlands 7.3%, France 6.9%, Belgium 4.7%, Norway 4.7%, Italy 4.2% (2007)
Economic aid – donor: ODA, $12.46 billion (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $57.3 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt – external: $10.45 trillion (30 June 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $1.409 trillion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $1.841 trillion (2008 est.)
Currency (code): British pound (GBP)
Currency code: GBP
Exchange rates: British pounds (GBP) per US dollar – 0.5302 (2008 est.), 0.4993 (2007), 0.5418 (2006), 0.5493 (2005), 0.5462 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 33.682 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 71.992 million (2007)
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
Radio broadcast stations: AM 206, FM 696, shortwave 3 (2008)
Radios: 84.5 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 940 (2008)
Televisions: 30.5 million (1997)
Internet country code: .uk
Internet hosts: 8.269 million (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): more than 400 (2000)
Internet users: 40.2 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 449 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 310
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 33
1,524 to 2,437 m: 131
914 to 1,523 m: 79
under 914 m: 59 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 139
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 113 (2007)
Heliports: 11 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 567 km; condensate/gas 22 km; gas 18,980 km; liquid petroleum gas 59 km; oil 4,930 km; oil/gas/water 165 km; refined products 4,444 km (2007)
Railways: total: 16,567 km
broad gauge: 303 km 1.600-m gauge (in Northern Ireland)
standard gauge: 16,264 km 1.435-m gauge (5,361 km electrified) (2006)
Roadways: total: 398,366 km
paved: 398,366 km (includes 3,520 km of expressways) (2006)
Waterways: 3,200 km (620 km used for commerce) (2008)
Merchant marine: total: 518
by type: bulk carrier 33, cargo 67, carrier 5, chemical tanker 61, container 180, liquefied gas 18, passenger 10, passenger/cargo 67, petroleum tanker 23, refrigerated cargo 12, roll on/roll off 24, vehicle carrier 18
foreign-owned: 264 (Cyprus 2, Denmark 62, Finland 1, France 23, Germany 76, Hong Kong 2, Ireland 1, Italy 5, Japan 4, NZ 1, Norway 31, South Africa 3, Spain 1, Sweden 17, Switzerland 1, Taiwan 11, Turkey 2, UAE 9, US 12)
registered in other countries: 391 (Algeria 11, Antigua and Barbuda 9, Argentina 4, Australia 5, Bahamas 56, Barbados 9, Belize 5, Bermuda 3, Brunei 1, Cape Verde 1, Cayman Islands 3, Cyprus 19, Gibraltar 2, Greece 32, Hong Kong 39, India 2, Italy 7, South Korea 1, Liberia 20, Luxembourg 8, Malta 19, Marshall Islands 18, Netherlands 2, Norway 5, Panama 59, Saint Kitts and Nevis 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 14, Sierra Leone 2, Singapore 17, Slovakia 1, Spain 5, Sweden 2, Thailand 5, Tonga 1, US 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Dover, Felixstowe, Immingham, Liverpool, London, Southampton, Teesport (England), Forth Ports, Hound Point (Scotland), Milford Haven (Wales)
Military Military branches: Army, Royal Navy (includes Royal Marines), Royal Air Force
Military service age and obligation: 16-33 years of age (officers 17-28) for voluntary military service (with parental consent under 18); 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; 16 years of age for voluntary military service by Nepalese citizens in the Brigade of the Gurkhas; 16-34 years of age for voluntary military service by Papua New Guinean citizens (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 14,729,500
females age 16-49: 14,125,600 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 12,121,602
females age 16-49: 11,616,582 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 400,927
female: 383,593 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 2.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
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 insists on equal participation in talks between the two countries; Spain disapproves of UK plans to grant Gibraltar greater autonomy; Mauritius and Seychelles claim the Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory), and its former inhabitants since their eviction in 1965; most Chagossians reside in Mauritius, and in 2001 were granted UK citizenship, where some have since resettled; in May 2006, the High Court of London reversed the UK Government’s 2004 orders of council that banned habitation on the islands; 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
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

Israel: 100 Years Since The Balfour Declaration: British And International Decision To Restore Jewish Homeland And To Reestablish The Land To Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘ICEJ’ NEWS)

A CENTURY TO CELEBRATE

Marking 100 Years since Balfour

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28 Nov 2016 (All day)

In the new year of 2017, we will pass several important milestones for Christians who support Israel. For instance, it has been 500 years since the start of the Protestant Reformation in October 1517, when Christians could read the Bible in their common languages once again and rediscovered that God still had plans for the Jewish people back in their ancient homeland. Meanwhile, it has been 100 years since the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 committed Great Britain to establishing a Jewish national home in Palestine. Finally, we will mark fifty years since the city of Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli rule during the Six-Day War of June 1967.

The anniversary of Balfour is especially significant for the state of Israel and her Christian friends. The Balfour Declaration, issued on the 2nd of November 1917, is a key document in modern Israel’s legal chain of title to the land. From this decree by the British cabinet flowed a series of international decisions to restore the Jewish nation, including the San Remo Conference of 1920, the League of Nation’s mandate over Palestine in 1922, the UN Partition Plan of 1947, Israel’s own Declaration of Independence in May 1948, and Israel’s admittance into the United Nations one year later.

The Balfour Declaration was the crowning achievement of the “Restorationist” movement in Great Britain. As early as the 1700s, leading Christian figures in England had advocated for a return of the Jews to the Land of Israel according to the divine promises of Scripture. This movement featured such noted clergymen as Charles and John Wesley, Charles H. Spurgeon, and Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, as well as prominent government leaders like William Wilberforce, Lord Palmerston and Lord Shaftesbury. As a result of their preaching and activism, restorationist had already become the prevailing view even within the Anglican Church by the time the Jewish Zionist movement was launched by Theodor Herzl in 1897.

When it became clear during World War I that Britain and its allies would be able to free the Middle East from Ottoman rule, the government of David Lloyd George recognized it as a historic moment to assist the Jewish Zionists in regaining their homeland. Six of the nine members of his war cabinet, including Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, were openly professing Christian Zionists and they seized the opportunity to issue the modern equivalent of the ancient decree by King Cyrus for Jews to return and rebuild their nation. Because of this solemn commitment, which came to be known as the Balfour Declaration, Britain was granted a mandate to help create a Jewish nation in the liberated province of Palestine.

So, we have much reason to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration this year. This coming November the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will be sponsoring events and joining with Jewish and Christian friends to commemorate Balfour, including observances in London and Jerusalem.
Yet, not everyone will be hailing the centenary of the Balfour Declaration this year. In fact, Palestinian leaders will be using their internationally funded PR machinery to assail this “criminal injustice” against their people. They are demanding that Britain apologize for Balfour and are even threatening to bring a lawsuit against the United Kingdom for all the damages caused to the Palestinians ever since. Yet such moves would be untenable and even counterproductive.

The reason is that these actions against Israel would actually undermine the claims to statehood of numerous Arab nations in the region.
Britain’s motivations behind the Balfour Declaration have always been a subject of debate. Some say it was meant to win Jewish favour during the war, or to repay Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann for his valuable contributions to the war effort. Others say it was a gesture of remorse for centuries of Christian anti-Semitism, or simply an act of British expansionism.

The truth is that Balfour was a valid and noble expression of Christian sympathy for a just cause. It also was part of a series of decisions made by the victorious powers during and after the war to create trusteeship in the Middle East and elsewhere as a way of nation-building and granting self-determination to the native people’s of liberated lands. So, Balfour actually is a pivotal marker for the closing of the age of colonialism, a self-imposed end by the Western nations themselves.

One of the architects of this mandate strategy was Jan Smuts, an avowed Christian Zionist. Until that time, the European powers would have just claimed the vacated Ottoman territories of the Middle East as part of their own empires. But Smuts and others felt it was time to let native people’s rule over their own lands and that the role of Western nations was just to assist them on the way to independence. This new approach was inspired in part by American president Woodrow Wilson and his fourteen points for spreading democracy and securing the peace in the post-war era. But, Smuts also described the mandate system as a “sacred trust” meant to free various lands and people’s from foreign rule.

Thus, Britain was granted a temporary mandate in Palestine and Iraq, while France was to oversee nation-building in Lebanon and Syria. In fact every Arab nation in the Middle East today can trace its legal claim to independence back to some of the same documents and decisions which created modern Israel. This was not a case of creating a Jewish state out of nothing. The Jews, like the Arabs, were viewed as indigenous to the region and thus entitled to reconstitute their ancient nation. So, to undermine Israel’s legal chain of title by assailing the Balfour Declaration would also call into question the claims to sovereignty of all its surrounding Arab neighbors. That is not something the Palestinians should really be pursuing.

The Balfour Declaration of 2nd of November 1917 was a letter signed by Lord Balfour which conveyed to British Jewish community leader Baron Walter Rothschild the cabinet’s decision to support the Zionist cause. It stated:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Iran’s Violations of Arms Embargo to Be Discussed by UN Security Council

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ASHARQ AL-AWSAT NEWS AGENCY)

 

Iran’s Violations of Arms Embargo to Be Discussed by Security Council

United Nations Security Council. Reuters

New York- Few days after former Secretary-general of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern regarding the fact that Tehran might have violated an arms embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Lebanese Shi’ite group so-called Hezbollah, the topic is set to be discussed by the council on January 18.

The second bi-annual report, due to be discussed by the 15-member council, also cited an accusation by France that an arms shipment seized in the northern Indian Ocean in March was from Iran and likely bound for Somalia or Yemen.

Regardless that the session was aimed at following the implementation of U.N. resolution 2231, which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Reuters confirmed on Monday that the report submitted every six months by U.N. chief included U.N. concern from Iran violating an arms embargo.

According to Reuters, the report was submitted to the Security Council on Dec. 30 by Ban Ki-moon before he was succeeded by Antonio Guterres on Jan. 1.

It came just weeks before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened to either scrap the nuclear agreement or seek a better deal, takes office.

“In a televised speech broadcast by Al Manar TV on 24 June 2016, Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, stated that the budget of Hezbollah, its salaries, expenses, weapons and missiles all came from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Ban wrote in the report.

“I am very concerned by this statement, which suggests that transfers of arms and related materiel from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Hezbollah may have been undertaken contrary to a Security Council resolution,” Ban said.

Most U.N. sanctions were lifted a year ago under a deal Iran made with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and the European Union to curb its nuclear program.

However, Iran is still subject to an arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the nuclear agreement.

Meanwhile, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran Asma Jahangir expressed deep concerns over the continuous detention of human rights defenders in the country, who, she said “have been tried on the basis of vaguely defined offences and heavily sentenced following trials marred with due process violations.”

Raising alarm over the health of several prisoners of conscience in Iran, who have been on a prolonged hunger strike contesting the legality of their detention, the U.N. expert on the human rights situation there urged the authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release all those who have been arbitrarily arrested, detained and prosecuted for exercising their rights.

Two of at least eight protesting prisoners of conscience have been on hunger strike since October last year.

One of the two ended his strike last week after his wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a human rights defender, was granted bail.

Another protester – Mohammed Ali Taheri – started his strike on 28 September.

However, his whereabouts have been unknown since his reported transfer to Baghiatollah Military Hospital in October.

Furthermore, at least one of the protesters – Arash Sadeghi, another human rights defender – is being denied transfer to specialized medical facilities despite his critical health condition and is reportedly kept in his cell.

“I call on the Iranian authorities to ensure that Sadeghi has access, as a matter of utmost priority, to specialized health care in a hospital outside prison, in compliance with international human rights standards and medical ethics in particular the principles of informed consent,” said Jahangir.

Britain’s top court hears case that could delay European Union exit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Britain’s top court hears case that could delay European Union exit

BRITAIN’S Supreme Court yesterday began a historic hearing to decide whether parliament has to approve the government’s Brexit negotiations, in a highly charged case that could delay the country’s EU exit.

For the first time, all 11 Supreme Court judges convened to hear a challenge by the government against a ruling that Prime Minister Theresa May must seek lawmakers’ approval before starting the process to leave the European Union.

The High Court ruled last month that the government did not have the executive power alone to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, formally starting exit talks which could take two years.

The decision enraged Brexit supporters and some newspapers who accused judges of thwarting the will of the 52 percent who voted “Leave” in the June 23 referendum.

The vote for Britain to become the first country to leave the 28-nation bloc sent shockwaves across the world and emboldened populists in Europe and the United States.

Supreme Court President David Neuberger said people involved in the case had received threats and abuse and stressed that the judges would rule without any political bias after criticism from Brexit backers.

A parliamentary vote on Article 50 could open the door to pro-EU lawmakers delaying or softening Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.

Neuberger said the judges were “aware of the strong feelings” surrounding Brexit but “those wider political questions are not the subject of this appeal.”

He told the court: “This appeal is concerned with legal issues, and, as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially, and to decide the case according to the law. That is what we shall do.”

He said some parties involved in the case had received threats of “serious violence and unpleasant abuse,” warning that there were “legal powers” to deal with such threats.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright, the government’s chief legal adviser, outlined the government’s case at the start of the four-day, live-broadcast hearing, with a judgment expected in January.

In his opening statement, he said there was a “universal expectation” that the government would implement the referendum result.

He argued that the government had constitutional authority over foreign affairs, including the right to withdraw from treaties, under so-called “royal prerogative powers.”

The royal prerogative is “not an ancient relic but a contemporary necessity,” he said.

If it loses, the government is expected to introduce a short bill — reportedly comprising just three lines of text — which it will then seek to push rapidly through parliament to authorize the triggering of Article 50.

May, who became prime minister after the Brexit vote, has insisted a parliamentary vote on the legislation would not disrupt her plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.

However, the opposition Labour Party delivered a blow to the government on Saturday when it announced it would seek to amend any bill, potentially delaying the process.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the amendment would ensure Britain retains access to the European single market and protect workers’ and environmental rights.

May faces a further potential complication from representatives of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who will argue Article 50 also needs to be approved by the UK’s devolved parliaments.

Imperialism: Colonialism: How It Made And Destroyed Peoples Lives In Africa

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘HISTORY’ ON GOOGLE+)

Imperialism and the Partition of Africa
Imperialism and the Partition of Africa
Imperialism and the Partition of Africa

Imperialism, or the extension of one nation-state’s domination or control over territory outside its own boundaries, peaked in the 19th century as European powers extended their holdings around the world.

The huge African continent (three times the size of the continental United States) was particularly vulnerable to European conquest. The partition of Africa was a fast-moving event. In 1875 less than one-tenth of Africa was under European control; by 1895 only one-tenth was independent.

Between 1871 and 1900 Britain added 4.25 million square miles and 66 million people to its empire. British holdings were so far-flung that many boasted that the “sun never set on the British Empire.” During the same time frame, France added over 3.5 million square miles of territory and 26 million people to its empire.

Controlling the sparsely populated Sahara, the French did not rule over as many people as the British. By 1912 only Liberia and Ethiopia in Africa remained independent states, and Liberia was really a protectorate of U.S.-owned rubber companies, particularly the Firestone Company.

By the end of the 19th century, the map of Africa resembled a patchwork quilt of different colonial empires. France controlled much of North Africa, West Africa, and French Equatorial Africa (unified in 1910). The British held large sections of West Africa, the Nile Valley, and much of East and southern Africa.

The Spanish ruled small parts of Morocco and coastal areas along the Atlantic Ocean. The Portuguese held Angola and Mozambique, and Belgium ruled the vast territories of the Congo. The Italians had secured Libya and parts of Somalia in East Africa. Germany had taken South-West Africa (present-day Namibia), Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania), and Cameroon.

Britain had the largest empire and the French the second largest, followed by Spain, Portugal, and Belgium. Germany and Italy, among the last European nations to unify, came late to the scramble for Africa and had to content themselves with less desirable and lucrative territories.

There were many different motivations for 19thcentury imperialism. Economics was a major motivating factor. Western industrial powers wanted new markets for their manufactured goods as well as cheap labor; they also needed raw materials.

J. A. Hobson and Vladimir Lenin both attributed imperial expansion to new economic forces in industrial nations. Lenin went so far as to write that imperialism was an inevitable result of capitalism.

As the vast mineral resources of Africa were exploited by European imperial powers, many Africans became laborers in mines or workers on agricultural plantations owned by Europeans. The harsh treatment or punishment of workers in the rubber plantations of the Belgian Congo resulted in millions of deaths.

However, economics was not the only motivation for imperial takeovers. In some instances, for example the French takeover of landlocked Chad in northern Africa, imperial powers actually expended more to administer the territory than was gained from raw materials, labor, or markets.

Nationalism fueled imperialism as nations competed for bragging rights over having the largest empire. Nations also wanted control over strategic waterways such as the Suez Canal, ports, and naval bases. Christian missionaries traveled to Africa in hopes of gaining converts.

When they were opposed or even attacked by Africans who resented the cultural incursions and denial of traditional religions, Western missionaries often called on their governments to provide military and political protection.

Hence it was said that “the flag followed the Bible.” The finding of the Scottish missionary David Livingstone by Henry Stanley, an American of English birth, was widely popularized in the Western press. Livingstone was not actually lost, but had merely lost contact with the Western world.

Explorers, adventurers, and entrepreneurs such as Cecil Rhodes in Rhodesia and King Leopold II of Belgium, who owned all of the Congo as his personal estate, also supported imperial takeovers of territories.

Richard Burton, Samuel and Florence Baker, and John Speke all became famous for their exploration of the Nile Valley in attempts to find the source of that great river. Their books and public lectures about their exploits fueled Western imaginations and interest in Africa.

Cultural Imperialism

Cultural imperialism was another important aspect of 19th-century imperialism. Most Westerners believed they lived in the best possible world and that they had a monopoly on technological advances.

In their imperial holdings, European powers often built ports, transportation, communication systems, and schools, as well as improving health care, thereby bringing the benefits of modern science to less developed areas.

Social Darwinists argued that Western civilization was the strongest and best and that it was the duty of the West to bring the benefits of its civilization to “lesser” peoples and cultures.

Western ethnocentrism contributed to the idea of the “white man’s burden,” a term popularized by the poet Rudyard Kipling. Racism also played a role in Western justifications for imperial conquests.

European nations devised a number of different approaches to avoid armed conflict with one another in the scramble for African territory. Sometimes nations declared a protectorate over a given African territory and exercised full political and military control over it. At other times they negotiated through diplomatic channels or held international conferences.

At the Berlin Conference of 1884–85, 14 nations decided on the borders of the Congo that was under Belgian rule, and Portugal got Angola. The term spheres of influence, whereby a nation declared a monopoly over a territory to deter rival imperial powers from taking it, was first used at the Berlin Conference.

However, disputes sometimes led European nations to the brink of war. Britain and France both had plans to build a north-south railway and east-west railway across Africa; although neither railway was ever completed, the two nations almost went to war during the Fashoda crisis over control of the Sudan, where the railways would have intersected.

Britain was also eager to control the headwaters of the Nile to protect its interests in Egypt, which was dependent on the Nile waters for its existence. Following diplomatic negotiations the dispute was resolved in favor of the British, and the Sudan became part of the British Empire.

War did break out between the British and Boers over control of South Africa in 1899. By 1902 the British had emerged victorious, and South Africa was added to their empire. In West Africa, European powers carved out long narrow states running north to south in order that each would have access to maritime trade routes and a port city.

Since most Europeans knew little or nothing about the local geography or demographics of the region, these new states often separated similar ethnic groups or put traditional enemies together under one administration. The difficulties posed by these differences continue to plague present-day West African nations such as Nigeria.

French and British Rule

The French and British adopted very different approaches to governance in their empires. The French believed in their “civilizing mission” and sought to assimilate the peoples of their empire by implanting French culture and language.

The British adopted a policy of “indirect rule.” They made no attempt to assimilate the peoples of their empire and educated only a small number of Africans to become civil servants. A relatively small number of British soldiers and bureaucrats ruled Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa.

In East Africa, the British brought in Indians to take jobs as government clerks and in commerce. Otherwise, the British tried to avoid interfering with local rulers or ways of life. Although the British and French policies were radically different, both were based on the belief in the superiority of Western civilization.

European colonists also settled in areas where the climate was favorable and the land was suitable for agriculture. Substantial numbers of French colons settled in the coastal areas of North Africa, especially in Algeria and Tunisia, while Italians settled in Tunisia and Libya.

British settlers moved into what they named Rhodesia and Kenya. In Kenya, British farmers and ranchers moved into the highlands, supplanting Kenyan farmers and taking much of the best land.

The Boers, Dutch farmers, fought the Zulus for control of rich agricultural land in South Africa. The Boers took part in a mass migration, or Great Trek, into the interior of South Africa from 1835–41 and established two independent republics, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal.

Dutch farmers clashed with the British for control of South Africa in the Boer War. In Mozambique and Angola, Portuguese settlers (prazeros) established large feudal estates (prazos). Throughout Africa, European colonists held privileged positions politically, culturally, and economically. They opposed extending rights to native African populations.

A few groups, such as the Igbos in Nigeria and the Baganda in Uganda, allied with the British and received favored positions in the colonial administrations. However, most Africans resisted European takeovers.

Muslim leaders, such as Abdul Kader in Algeria and the Mahdi in Sudan, mounted long and effective armed opposition to French and British domination. But both were ultimately defeated by superior Western military strength.

The Ashante in Ghana and the Hereros in South-West Africa fought against European domination but were crushed in bloody confrontations. The Zulus led byShaka Zulu used guerrilla warfare tactics to halt the expansion of the Boers into their territories, but after initial defeats the Boers triumphed.

The Boers then used the hit-and-run tactics they had learned from the Zulus in their war against the British. The British defeated the Matabele and Mashona tribes in northern and southern Rhodesia. In the 20th century, a new generation of nationalist African leaders adopted a wide variety of political and economic means to oppose the occupation of their lands by European nations and settlers.

Why Is The British Government Not Doing All It Can To Stop Homegrown Terrorism

 

Again today I see on my Google News Homepage an article from CNN about Scotland Yard’s concerns about hundreds of Brits who are returning from Syria who have been training with ISIS. Now I know that I am not the brightest bulb in the package but I have a question about this situation? Why is it that Briton or any other country for that matter feel obligated not to cancel these people’s Passports as soon as their feet hit the ground in Syria? Why is it that Briton, your country, or my country, is somehow required to let these traders and mass murders back into their old neighborhoods? Why can’t our government, British government, or yours, be allowed to protect its own citizens by arresting these people the second their repatriated brimstone feet touch OUR soil? You can stop most of the homegrown security risks if you deport and cancel these people’s Visas and Passports. Is the British Government without the legal right to cancel the Passports of these returning traitors or even the right/obligation to protect its own citizens by doing so? Why is it that these people are allowed back into our neighborhoods? Why is it that the Government doesn’t arrest them as soon as they step foot on our soil? Maybe you know the answers to these thoughts, I’m just old and confused I guess.