(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. This ethnology-cultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then it has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi JAGAN was elected president in what is considered the country’s first free and fair election since independence. After his death five years later, his wife, Janet JAGAN, became president but resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat JAGDEO, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006.
When the first Europeans arrived in the area around 1500, Guyana was inhabited by the Arawak and Carib tribes of Amerindians. Although Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), the Dutch were first to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752). The British assumed control in the late 18th century, and the Dutch formally ceded the area in 1814. In 1831 the three separate colonies became a single British colony known as British Guiana.
Escaped slaves formed their own settlements known as Maroon communities. With the abolition of slavery in 1834 many of the former enslaved people began to settle in urban areas. Indentured laborers from modern day Portugal (1834), Germany (first in 1835), Ireland (1836), Scotland (1837), Malta (1839), China and India (beginning in 1838) were imported to work on the sugar plantations.
In 1889 Venezuela claimed the land up to the Essequibo. Ten years later an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to British Guiana.
During World War II the United States arranged for its air force to use British airports in South America, including those in British Guiana
Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966 and became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The United States State Department and the CIA, along with the British government, played a strong role in influencing who would politically control Guyana during this time. They provided secret financial support and political campaign advice to pro-western Guyanese of African descent, especially Forbes Burnham’s People’s National Congress to the detriment of Cheddi Jagan-led Marxists of Indian descent.
Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela
Geographic coordinates: 5 00 N, 59 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 214,970 sq km
land: 196,850 sq km
water: 18,120 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Idaho
Land boundaries: total: 2,949 km
border countries: Brazil 1,606 km, Suriname 600 km, Venezuela 743 km
Coastline: 459 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the outer edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to August, November to January)
Terrain: mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Roraima 2,835 m
Natural resources: bauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish
Land use: arable land: 2.23%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 97.63% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 241 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.64 cu km/yr (2%/1%/98%)
per capita: 2,187 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons
Environment – current issues: water pollution from sewage and agricultural and industrial chemicals; deforestation
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay; substantial portions of its western and eastern territories are claimed by Venezuela and Suriname respectively
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.1% (male 102,111/female 98,325)
15-64 years: 68.6% (male 266,288/female 261,620)
65 years and over: 5.3% (male 17,308/female 23,443) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 27.8 years
male: 27.3 years
female: 28.3 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.234% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 18.09 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 8.28 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -7.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.039 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.018 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.738 male(s)/female
total population: 1.006 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 31.35 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 34.93 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 66.17 years
male: 63.52 years
female: 68.95 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.04 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 2.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 11,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 1,100 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoa diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vector-borne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: osteoporosis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Guyanese (singular and plural)
Ethnic groups: East Indian 50%, black 36%, Amerindian 7%, white, Chinese, and mixed 7%
Religions: Christian 50%, Hindu 35%, Muslim 10%, other 5%
Languages: English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Urdu
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 98.8%
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Dublin, Ireland (CNN)Ireland has voted an emphatic “Yes” to amend the country’s constitution to enable legislation that would allow women to have an abortion in a historic and emotionally charged referendum.
Only one county voted no — the rural and religiously conservative Donegal in northwest Ireland.
The vote signifies a resounding victory for the government of Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister, or Taoiseach as the office is called in Ireland.
“Today is a historic day for Ireland,” Varadkar said at a press conference. “A quiet revolution has taken place, and today is a great act of democracy.”
“A hundred years since women gained the right to vote, today we as a people have spoken,” he said. “And we say that we trust women and respect women to make their own decisions and their own choices.”
He noted that people in “almost every county, almost every constituency, men and women, all social classes and almost all age groups” voted to repeal the amendment. “We are not a divided country,” he said.
Chants of “Yes we did” rose from the crowd as the Referendum Commission’s Returning Officer Barry Ryan announced the final results.
“Yes” supporters wait for the final results Saturday at Dublin Castle.
It was a scene of jubilation as some supporters burst into tears. Others began laughing as they hugged one another and asked each other, “Can you believe we did this?”
Emma Gallagher, 22, began crying as she heard the final results.
“I feel safe now, I feel comfortable,” she told CNN. “It felt for a long time women didn’t matter. … Now we know that we matter.”
Rene Wogan, 66, held Gallagher’s hand and told her, “It was all for justice. You’re forwarding the flag on for women.”
Thousands of people packed the square in front of Dublin Castle as abortion rights politicians, including Varadkar, also joined the celebration.
He told Sky TV he expected legislation to be voted through by the end of the year.
“I feel enormous relief and great pride in the people of Ireland who didn’t maybe know what they thought until they were finally asked the questions,” Ailbhe Smyth, a longtime women’s rights activist, told CNN.
“It has been a long and very hard road, but we never lost sight of this because it’s so central to the existence, and the selfhood and personhood of women to have that control of our own bodies.”
A woman from the “Yes” campaign reacts after final results were announced Saturday at Dublin Castle.
The Eighth Amendment, which was added to the constitution following a referendum in 1983, banned abortion in Ireland unless there was a “real and substantial risk” to the mother’s life.
Repeal of the amendment has completed a circle of sweeping social reforms in the European Union nation that fly in the face of the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church, from contraception to divorce, and most recently same-sex marriage.
Roscommon, in the rural interior, the only county to say no to same-sex marriage, also voted yes in the abortion referendum.
Thousands of Irish working abroad returned to Ireland to cast their vote.
This is my mam. It took 38 years for us to find each other again. The last time she saw me was when she was running after a car as nuns drove away with me.
We voted yes.
We stand together for change.#repealThe8th#repealedThe8th
Those opposed to abortion vowed Saturday to take their fight now to the Irish Parliament, where lawmakers will have to bring about legislation allowing for terminations in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy — and later in cases where there is a risk to the mother’s life or the fetus is not expected to survive.
Dr. Ruth Cullen, spokeswoman for the anti-abortion LoveBoth campaign, conceded defeat Saturday before the count had finished.
“We will hold the Taoiseach to his promise that repeal would only lead to abortion in very restrictive circumstances. He gave his word on this, now he must deliver on it. No doubt many people voted for repeal based on the Taoiseach’s promises in this regard,” Cullen said at a press conference Saturday.
The death of an Indian dentist ignited the abortion rights campaign in Ireland. Savita Halappanavar, 31, died in 2012 because of complications from a natural miscarriage after abortion was denied to her.
Repeal supporters leave notes at a mural of Savita Halappanavar, whose death sparked the campaign.
Voters over 65 were the only age group overall not supporting the repeal of the amendment.
Ireland’s vote will likely put pressure on Northern Ireland to change its abortion laws, too. Despite Northern Ireland being part of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act legalizing abortions never applied there, and even victims of rape and incest are forced to travel to mainland Britain if they want a termination.
CNN’s Hilary Clarke wrote from London, while Kara Fox reported from Dublin. CNN’s Muhammad Darwish and Laura Perez Maestro contributed to this report.
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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.
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.
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
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.
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)
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%
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)
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
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:  (202) 588-6500
FAX:  (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:  (0) 20 7499-9000
FAX:  (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
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 – 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%
services: 76.2% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 31.2 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 1.4%
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%
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)
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)
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 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.)
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
Who do you consider your family to be? I know from raising this subject within small groups that people have a wide variety of answers to that simple question. Some people only feel that their immediate household is their family, you know, Mom, Dad, and siblings. I have met quite a few people who have even divorced some of or all of those people from their lives. I have met many people who are by blood siblings or parents of friends that I know well, whom when you met them you see why your friends have no use for this or that blood relative. When I was growing up I was inundated by alcoholics who were also close blood and of course those they chose to hang around and guzzle the suds with. These days it seems that drugs like crack and meth are the vehicle which is totally ripping families apart. When people get hooked on those chemicals they usually find themselves unemployed and homeless when they have used up all of their friends and family because they will steal from anyone to get another high. After a while even close family members tell them to never darken their doorway again. Of course there are many other reasons also that causes families to fall apart, to me, either which way you look at this issue it is sad when brother won’t speak to his brother, or parent to child.
My wife as well as a few other people throughout my life have told me they think I’m nuts because to me once you are family, you are always family. I have at times joked that I must have some Italian blood in my veins because of how I feel about this issue. I know that I don’t, my tree just goes back to Norway, Ireland, Scotland, and England so I’m just a Scandinavian area mutt. The only brother that I ever knew (one brother died before I was born) was married three times before he died from an aneurysm at the age of 43. He was seven years older than me and so he was out whoring around well before I was. Each of the three ladies that he married already had kids when he married them. He had one child with each of them but there were/are 18 kids that weren’t his. Don’t think that I am trying to get uppity on my brother now because I myself have been married three times also. Total I have two blood kids of my own and I have two-step kids that to me are my kids as if they were blood, I love all four of them. They are all four grown and I have seven grand-kids now, I consider myself to be a very fortunate person.
About everyone I know thinks we have got this in our DNA of caring, or we don’t. I am from a small core family of five, so to me once a person or persons are family, you are always family. Should I not speak with former in-laws of my own or of my brother just because of a divorce? Do you just stop communicating with people that you grew to love as if they just don’t matter anymore? To me it is difficult to stop loving someone who you have honestly loved. You see, to me all of my brothers kids and step kids are my nephews and nieces and they always will be, just as his three x-wives will always be sisters to me.
What is your opinion on my line of thoughts and beliefs about family? Do you think I am just plain odd that I would count people as family the way I do? What is your opinion on whom you consider to be in your heart? I have met a few people who when they got old enough to get out on their own they totally divorced themselves from everyone they knew usually because of how they were treated in their growing up years. To me that would be a sad personal situation for any person to be in but I have also know of parents who put their kid on the street and told them to never come to their door again. It is sad for people to have such splits in their lives, it really doesn’t surprise me why many people only consider people who are not blood, to be their real family. Well, if you would, drop me a line on your thought’s of what or who, that you consider to make up a family. Thank you for your time, I appreciate you stopping in. Goodnight and God’s blessings I pray for you and your family, (inner circle).—Oldpoet56
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Who do you consider your family to be? I know from raising this subject within small groups that people have a wide variety of answers to that simple question. Some people only feel that their immediate household is their family, you know, Mom, Dad, and siblings. I have met quite a few people who have even divorced some of or all of those people from their lives. I have met many people who are by blood siblings or parents of friends that I know well, whom when you meet them you see why your friends have no use for this or that blood relative. When I was growing up I was inundated by alcoholics who were also close blood and of course those they chose to hang around with guzzled the suds too. These days it seems that drugs like crack and meth are the vehicle which is totally tearing families apart. When people get hooked on those chemicals they usually find themselves unemployed and homeless when they have used up all of their friends and family because they will steal from anyone to get another high. After a while even close family members tell them to never darken their doorway again. Of course there are many other reasons also that causes families to fall apart, to me, either which way you look at this issue it is sad when brother won’t speak to his brother, or parent to child.
My wife as well as a few other people throughout my life have told me they think I’m nuts because to me once you are family, you are always family. I have at times joked that I must have some Italian blood in my veins because of how I feel about this issue. I know that I don’t, my tree just goes back to Norway, Ireland, Scotland, and England so I’m just a Scandinavian area mutt. The only brother that I ever knew (one brother died before I was born) was married three times before he died from an aneurysm at the age of 43. He was seven years older than me and so he was out cating around well before I was. Each of the three ladies that he married already had kids when he married them. He had one child with each of them but there were/are 18 kids that weren’t his. Don’t think that I am trying to get uppity on my brother now because I myself have been married three times also. Total I have two blood kids of my own and I have two-step kids that to me are my kids as if they were blood, I love all four of them. They are all four grown and I have seven grand-kids now, I consider myself to be a very fortunate person.
The place where about everyone I know thinks we have this in our DNA of still caring, or we don’t. I am from a small core family of five so the people, once you are family, you are always family. Should I not speak with former in-laws of my own or of my brother just because of a divorce? Do you just stop communicating with people that you grew to love as if they just don’t matter anymore? To me it is difficult to stop loving someone who you have honestly loved. You see, to me all of my brothers kids and step kids are my nephews and nieces and they always will be, just as his three x-wives will always be sisters to me.
What is your opinion on my line of thoughts and beliefs about family? Do you think I am just plain odd that I would count people as family the way I do? What is your opinion on whom you consider to be in your heart. I have met a few people who when they got old enough to get out on their own they totally divorced themselves from everyone they knew usually because of how they were treated in their growing up years. To me that would be a sad personal situation for any person to be in but I have also know of parents who put their kid on the street and told them to never come to their door again. It is sad for people to have such splits in their lives, it really doesn’t surprise me why many people only consider people who are not blood, to be their real family. Well, if you would, drop me a line on your thought’s of what or who, that you consider to make up a family. Thank you for your time, I appreciate you stopping in. Goodnight and God’s blessings I pray for you and your family, (inner circle).–Shalom
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(OPED: PEOPLE LIKE APPLE’S TIM COOK WHO GO BEFORE CONGRESS AND LIE HIS -SS OFF SHOULD BE ARRESTED AT ONCE AND HELD WITHOUT BAIL. IF THE AVERAGE PERSON DID THESE SAME CRIMES THEY WOULD BE THROWN UNDER THE JAIL. IN MY OPINION, IT SHINES A LIGHT ON THE REAL WORLD OF POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS, IF YOU ARE A BIG MONEY GIVER TO THE POLITICIANS (BUYING THEM), YOU ARE ALLOWED TO BREAK THE LAWS AND STEAL BILLIONS THROUGH TAX FRAUD.) (TRS)
Apple’s cash mountain, how it avoids tax and the Irish link
Paradise Papers: Elite tax advisers help Apple and others skirt effects of ‘double Irish’ crackdown
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), use the example of a fictional fast-food chain, Snax Haven, in explaining how offshore tax avoidance systems work. Video: ICIJ
It was May 2013, and Apple Inc’s chief executive, Tim Cook, was angry. He sat before the United States Senate’s permanent subcommittee on investigations, which had completed an inquiry into how Apple avoided tens of billions of dollars in taxes by shifting profits into Irish subsidiaries that the subcommittee’s chairman called “ghost companies”.
“We pay all the taxes we owe, every single dollar,” Cook declared. “We do not depend on tax gimmicks . . . We do not stash money on some Caribbean island.”
Five months later Ireland bowed to international pressure and announced a crackdown on Irish firms, like Apple’s subsidiaries, that claimed that almost all of their income was not subject to taxes in Ireland or anywhere else in the world.
Now leaked documents shine a light on how the iPhone maker responded to this move. Despite its CEO’s public rejection of island havens, that’s where Apple turned as it began shopping for a new tax refuge.
Apple’s advisers at one of the world’s top law firms, the US-headquartered Baker McKenzie, canvassed one of the leading players in the offshore world, a firm of lawyers called Appleby, which specialized in setting up and administering tax-haven companies.
A questionnaire that Baker McKenzie emailed in March 2014 set out 14 questions for Appleby’s offices in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey.
One asked that the offices “Confirm that an Irish company can conduct management activities . . . without being subject to taxation in your jurisdiction.”
Apple also asked for assurances that the local political climate would remain friendly: “Are there any developments suggesting that the law may change in an unfavorable way in the foreseeable future?”
In the end Apple settled on Jersey, the tiny island in the English Channel that, like many Caribbean havens, charges no tax on corporate profits for most companies. Jersey was to play a significant role in Apple’s newly configured Irish tax structure set up in late 2014. Under this arrangement, the MacBook maker has continued to enjoy ultralow tax rates on most of its profits and now holds much of its non-US earnings in a $252 billion mountain of cash offshore. The Irish Government’s crackdown on shadow companies, meanwhile, has had little effect.
The inside story of Apple’s hunt for a new avoidance strategy is among the disclosures emerging from a leak of secret corporate records that reveals how the offshore tax game is played by Apple, Nike, Uber and other multinational corporations – and how top law firms help them exploit gaps between differing tax codes around the world.
The documents come from the internal files of the offshore law firm Appleby and the corporate services provider Estera, two businesses that operated together under the Appleby name until Estera became independent in 2016.
The files show how Appleby played a cameo role in creating many cross-border tax structures. The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained the records and shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners, including The Irish Times, the New York Times, Australia’s ABC, the BBC in the United Kingdom, Le Monde in France and CBC in Canada.
These disclosures come as the White House and Congress consider cutting the US federal tax on corporate income, pushing its top rate of 35 percent down to 20 percent or lower. President Donald Trump has insisted that American firms are getting a bad deal from current tax rules.
The documents show that, in reality, many big US multinationals pay income taxes at very low rates, thanks in part to complex corporate structures they set up with the help of a global network of elite tax advisers.
In this regard, Apple has led the field. Despite almost all design and development of its products taking place in the US, the iPhone maker has for years been able to report that about two-thirds of its worldwide profits were made in other countries, where it has used loopholes to access ultralow foreign tax rates.
Now leaked documents help show how Apple quietly carried out a restructuring of its Irish companies at the end of 2014, allowing it to carry on paying taxes at low rates on the majority of global profits.
Multinationals that transfer intangible assets to tax havens and adopt other aggressive avoidance strategies are costing governments around the world as much as $240 billion a year in lost tax revenue, according to a conservative estimate in 2015 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Documents reviewed by ICIJ and other media partners provide insight into how those strategies work. They show the creative methods that advisory firms devise in response to attempts by regulators to crack down on tax shelters.
“US multinational firms are the global grandmasters of tax-avoidance schemes that deplete not just US tax collection but the tax collection of most every large economy in the world,” said Edward Kleinbard, a former corporate lawyer who is now a professor of tax law at the University of Southern California.
The Trump administration and the United States Congress are considering whether to grant a one-time tax holiday that would allow big multinationals to bring home, at a sharply reduced tax rate, more than $2.6 trillion they have stowed in offshore subsidiaries.
Kleinbard said the prospect of a big corporate tax holiday “simply begs companies to ramp up their tax-avoidance strategy still further in anticipation of more holidays in years to come. And it removes pressure for genuine reform.”
An Apple spokesperson declined to answer a list of questions about the company’s offshore tax strategy, except to say it had informed US, Irish and European Commission regulators of its reorganization at the end of 2014. “The changes we made did not reduce our tax payments in any country,” the spokesman said.
He added: “At Apple, we follow the laws, and if the system changes we will comply. We strongly support efforts from the global community toward comprehensive international tax reform and a far simpler system, and we will continue to advocate for that.”
By quietly transferring trademarks, patent rights, and other intangible assets to offshore companies, many other global businesses have also been able to cut their tax bills dramatically.
The leaked papers show how the ownership of prized assets – including rights to Nike’s Swoosh trademark, Uber’s taxi-hailing app and medical patents covering such treatment options as Botox and breast implants – could all be traced to a five-story office block in Bermuda occupied by Appleby and Estera.
Ownership of Facebook’s user database for most countries outside the United States, as well as rights to use its platform technology – together worth billions of dollars – has been held through companies at a similarly unassuming address on Grand Cayman used by Appleby and Estera. And Apple’s money trail has been traced to a building used by Appleby and Estera in Jersey, 30km off the coast of northern France.
Addresses shared by the two offshore firms on tax-haven islands have played host to secretive shell companies buried deep within the corporate architecture of many of the largest multinationals. Despite moves by governments to phase out loopholes, tax shelters remain as popular as ever.
Governments around the world have challenged some of the tax structures maintained by Appleby and Estera clients – though not always successfully. Nike triumphed over the US Internal Revenue Service a year ago. A dispute between Facebook and US tax authorities continues to play out in court. Apple, meanwhile, is being pursued €13 billion in Irish back taxes after European regulators ruled that Ireland had granted illegal state aid by approving Apple’s tax structure.
The leaked documents help explain how three small jurisdictions – the Netherlands, Ireland, and Bermuda – have become go-to destinations for big corporations looking to avoid taxes on their overseas earnings. Among them, these three spots hold less than one-third of 1 per cent of the world’s population – but they accounted for 35 per cent of all profits that US multinationals reported earning overseas last year, according to analysis by Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley.
Over three decades US multinationals have been growing bolder, shifting vast chunks of profits into tax havens. Concerns about their tactics were largely ignored until government finances around the world came under pressure in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Beginning in the autumn of 2012, the issue came to a head in a welter of government inquiries, tax-inspector raids, investigative reporting and promises of reform.
By the time the US Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations released 142 pages of documents and analysis for its public hearing on Apple’s tax avoidance in May 2013, the world was paying attention. The subcommittee found that Apple was attributing billions of dollars of profits each year to three Irish subsidiaries that declared “tax residency” nowhere in the world.
Under Irish law, most firms incorporated in Ireland are required to pay taxes locally on their profits. But if the directors are able to convince the Irish tax authorities that a company is “managed and controlled” abroad, it can often escape all, or almost all, Irish tax
For more than two decades the directors of Apple’s three Irish companies – including, for many years, Tim Cook – did just that. By running these Irish subsidiaries from group headquarters in California they avoided Irish tax residency.
At the same time, the directors knew that their Irish companies would not qualify for tax residency in the United States because American tax law worked differently. Under US rules a company has American tax residency only if it is incorporated there.
“Apple sought the holy grail of tax avoidance: offshore corporations that it argues are not, for tax purposes, resident anywhere in any nation,” Carl Levin, then a Democratic senator for Michigan, and chairman of the Senate subcommittee, said at the 2013 hearing.
Ireland’s minister for finance at the time, Michael Noonan, at first defended his country’s policies, saying, “I do not want to be the whipping boy for some misunderstanding in a hearing in the US Congress.” But by October 2013, in response to growing international pressure, he announced plans to require Irish companies to declare tax residency somewhere in the world.
At that time Apple had accumulated $111 billion in cash almost entirely held by its Irish shadow companies, beyond the reach of US tax authorities. Each year the pile grew higher and higher as billions of dollars in profits poured into these low-tax subsidiaries.
Company officials wanted to keep it that way.
So Apple sought alternatives to replace the tax-shelter arrangements that Ireland would soon shut down. At the same time, however, the iPhone maker wanted its interest in the offshore world kept quiet.
As Cameron Adderley, global head of Appleby’s corporate division explained in an email to other senior partners: “For those of you who are not aware Apple [officials] are extremely sensitive concerning publicity . . . They also expect the work that is being done for them only to be discussed amongst personnel who need to know.”
For Appleby, Adderley explained, this was “a tremendous opportunity for us to shine on a global basis with Baker McKenzie”.
Baker McKenzie’s role in setting up offshore structures for multinationals, and then defending them when challenged by tax regulators, is legendary. The law firm has also been involved in lobbying against proposals to crack down on tax avoidance by technology giants. It has 5,000 attorneys in 77 offices around the world. Former partners include Christine Lagarde, the former French finance minister and now managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
Behind closed doors, Apple decided that two of its Irish companies should, with the help of Appleby, claim tax residency in Jersey, one of the largest island shelters with strong links to the UK banking system, where Apple’s Irish subsidiaries already held accounts. Jersey is a crown dependency of the United Kingdom, but it makes its own laws, sets its own tax rates and is not subject to most European Union legislation, making it a popular tax haven.
As Apple’s plans to use an offshore tax haven progressed another potential problem emerged. In mid-2014, again under pressure from other governments, Ireland had begun exploring a ban on the tax shelter known as the double Irish, an avoidance strategy used by scores of companies, including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, other tech companies and drugmakers such as Abbott Laboratories.
The double Irish allows companies to collect profits through one Irish unit that actually employs people in Ireland and is tax resident there, then route those profits to a second Irish subsidiary that claims tax residency in a low-tax island such as Bermuda, Grand Cayman or the Isle of Man.
A crackdown on such arrangements could have interfered with Apple’s plans in Jersey before they had got off the ground. Although it was aimed at double-Irish structures the potential rule change would ban all Irish companies from claiming tax residency in a tax haven.
Although the iPhone maker was not in a position to protest loudly, others spoke up. California-based Terilea Wielenga, who was the international president of the Tax Executives Institute, wrote to Noonan in July 2014, warning that moves that would effectively ban double-Irish structures “may not be prudent”. And if Irish ministers did press ahead, she added, they would be well advised to incorporate “a substantial transition period”.
What her letter did not tell, but leaked Appleby papers now show, was that Wielenga was quietly orchestrating a long-standing double-Irish structure at Allergan, the maker of Botox, where at the time she worked as head of tax. For more than a decade the structure has shifted profits away from Ireland, where Allergan has a Botox factory, to Bermuda.
The ICIJ attempted to contact Wielenga but did not receive a response. Allergan did not answer specific questions about its tax affairs but said: “Allergan abides by all applicable tax laws and accounting rules and pays all taxes owed in all jurisdictions where it does business.”
The lobbying seemed to work.
Ireland included a generous grandfathering clause for Allergan and other multinationals using Irish tax structures. “For existing companies, there will be provision for a transition period until the end of 2020,” Noonan declared on October 14th, 2014.
More precisely, the fine print of policy documents revealed, the grandfathering provisions would apply not just to companies in existence when the finance minister spoke but also any new ones created up until the end of 2014.
That gave Apple just enough time. By the start of 2015, it had restructured its affairs in Ireland, including securing tax residency in Jersey for Apple Sales International and Apple Operations International, two of the three Irish shadow companies highlighted in the US Senate investigation a year earlier.
For the previous five years, Apple Sales International had been Apple’s biggest profit generator, churning out more than $120 billion, or close to 60 percent of Apple’s worldwide earnings.
Meanwhile, much of that profit was transferred as dividends to Apple Operations International, described by Cook as “a company set up to provide an efficient way to manage Apple’s cash”.
Before their move to Jersey, these two subsidiaries had played a leading role in helping Apple accumulate and hold $137 billion in cash – most of which came from non-US profits barely taxed by any government in the world.
The latest figures indicate that since Apple’s reorganization of its Irish companies this sum has increased 84 percent, although Apple won’t confirm which of its foreign subsidiaries own this cash.
This pile of money has inadvertently made Apple one of the biggest investment funds in the world, and its offshore cash reserves have been put to work in a portfolio that includes corporate bonds, government debt, and mortgage-backed securities.
Under the wire
Apple was not the only multinational that moved quickly to grab a final chance before 2015 dawned.
“At the end of 2014 a window of opportunity closes,” advisers from the big US law firm DLA Piper explained to CitiXsys, a retail software supplier based in New York. DLA Piper set out a frenetic schedule of incorporations and intellectual-property transfers to be rushed through before the new year to set up a double Irish.
As DLA Piper explained, this arrangement “must be managed and controlled in [a] 0% or low tax jurisdiction, such as the Isle of Man, where the bulk of profits are recognized”. That way the entire structure “produces a very low effective tax rate, approximately 5% to 7%”.
ICIJ contacted CitiXsys and other multinationals featured in this story. CitiXsys did not respond, and Uber declined to comment. Nike, Facebook, and Allergan declined to answer questions but provided general statements saying they fully complied with tax regulations in countries where they operate.
DLA Piper declined to comment, and Baker McKenzie said it does not discuss client matters. Appleby declined to answer questions but said on its website: “We are an offshore law firm who advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business.” Estera, the corporate-services company that split away from Appleby at the beginning of 2016 and continues to administer many offshore companies on behalf of clients, declined to comment.
While CitiXsys’s rapidly assembled structure mirrored the structures embraced by Facebook, Google and others using the double Irish, Apple’s reorganized Irish companies appear to function very differently.
The iPhone maker has declined to answer ICIJ’s questions about its new setup, but it appears to give a key role to another of Apple’s Irish subsidiaries, a company called Apple Operations Europe.
Together with Apple Operations International and Apple Sales International, the company made up the three Irish firms criticised by US senators in 2013 for being “ghost companies”, tax resident nowhere in the world.
By 2015 tighter Irish laws had caused all three to find a new tax home. But while the other two Irish companies took up residence in Jersey, Apple Operations Europe became tax resident in Ireland, the country of its incorporation.
A clue to why a multinational might want a subsidiary that was liable for taxes in Ireland can be found, once again, in Michael Noonan’s budget announcement in 2014.
While media headlines focused on his decision to crack down on double-Irish arrangements, less attention was paid to measures not mentioned in his budget speech but contained in accompanying policy documents. In particular, the paperwork revealed plans to expand an already generous tax regime for companies that bring the intangible property into Ireland.
The incentive, known as a capital allowance, offered Irish companies big tax deductions over many years if they spent money buying expensive intangible property.
Importantly for multinationals, however, it was also available to an Irish company that bought the intangible property from another company within the same group.
The arrangement was especially attractive to those multinationals that were in a position to sell their intangible property into Ireland from a subsidiary in a tax haven, where the gain from the sale would go untaxed.
In effect, even though the internal sale would cost the multinational nothing, such a move could nevertheless unlock huge tax breaks in Ireland.
Even before Noonan sweetened the terms of this capital allowance tax break, some experts suggested it could be used to achieve tax rates as low as 2.5 percent.
Apple declined to answer questions about whether it has taken advantage of this tax break by selling rights to use its intangible property from Apple Sales International in Jersey to Apple Operations Europe in Ireland.
It’s clear, though, that a large amount of intangible property landed abruptly in Ireland around the period when Apple reorganized its three Irish subsidiaries. In fact, the country’s gross domestic product for 2015 leaped by an incredible 26 per cent, boosted by close to $270 billion of intangible assets suddenly appearing in Ireland’s national accounts at the start of the year – more than the entire value of residential property in Ireland.
The Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman called the development “Leprechaun economics”.
The ICIJ showed the findings from its investigation to J Richard Harvey, a Villanova University law professor, and Stephen Shay, senior lecturer at Harvard Law School. In 2013 both of them gave detailed testimony on Apple’s previous Irish structure to the US Senate committee’s investigation. They both told the ICIJ it appeared likely the iPhone maker had transferred intangible assets to Ireland.
“While it is not 100 percent clear how Apple has restructured its Irish operations, one strong possibility is that they have transferred more than $200 billion of valuable intangible assets . . . to an Irish resident company, for example, Apple Operations Europe,” Harvey said.
Shay added: “By using Irish intangible property tax reliefs, Apple likely will pay little or no additional Irish tax for years to come on income at Apple Operations Europe.
The Department of Finance in Dublin told the ICIJ: “The Irish regime for capital allowances . . . is broadly similar to regimes available in other countries and does not confer any additional benefits to multinationals.”
However, in October 2017, Ireland reversed the sweetened terms Noonan had added to the tax break three years earlier.
Apple said that following its reorganization it pays more Irish tax than before. “The changes we made did not reduce our tax payments in any country,” Apple said in a statement. “In fact, our payments to Ireland increased significantly and over three years [2014, 2015 and 2016] we’ve paid $1.5 billion in tax there – 7% of all corporate income taxes paid in that country.”
But the iPhone maker still won’t say how much profit it makes through its Irish companies – making it impossible to gauge whether $1.5 billion is a lot of tax to pay in three years or not.
Reuven Avi-Yonah, director of the international tax program at the University of Michigan Law School, said Apple was “determined not to be hurt” when it had to abandon its previous Irish structure. “This is how it usually works: You close one tax shelter, and something else opens up,” he said. “It just goes on endlessly.”
Jesse Drucker, a reporter with the New York Times, contributed to this story
DUBLIN — Forensics experts say they have found a mass grave for young children at a former Catholic orphanage in Ireland where suspicions of unrecorded, unmarked burials have lingered for decades.
Friday’s announcement by the government-appointed Mother and Baby Homes Commission confirms a 2014 investigation by a local historian who found death certificates for nearly 800 children who died at the home in Tuam, County Galway, from its opening in 1925 to its 1961 closure.
The commission says excavations at the site from November to January found an underground structure divided into 20 chambers containing “significant quantities of human remains.”
It says DNA analysis of selected remains confirmed the ages of the dead ranged from 35 weeks to 3 years old and were buried when the orphanage was operating.
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