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United Kingdom Government

    Country name:
    conventional long form: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
    conventional short form: United Kingdom
    abbreviation: UK

    Data code: UK

    Government type: constitutional monarchy

    Capital: London

    Administrative divisions: 47 counties, 7 metropolitan counties, 26 districts, 9 regions, and 3 islands areas; England—39 counties, 7 metropolitan counties*; Avon, Bedford, Berkshire, Buckingham, Cambridge, Cheshire, Cleveland, Cornwall, Cumbria, Derby, Devon, Dorset, Durham, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucester, Greater London*, Greater Manchester*, Hampshire, Hereford and Worcester, Hertford, Humberside, Isle of Wight, Kent, Lancashire, Leicester, Lincoln, Merseyside*, Norfolk, Northampton, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Nottingham, Oxford, Shropshire, Somerset, South Yorkshire*, Stafford, Suffolk, Surrey, Tyne and Wear*, Warwick, West Midlands*, West Sussex, West Yorkshire*, Wiltshire; Northern Ireland—26 districts; Antrim, Ards, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Belfast, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Coleraine, Cookstown, Craigavon, Down, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Larne, Limavady, Lisburn, Londonderry, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newry and Mourne, Newtownabbey, North Down, Omagh, Strabane; Scotland—9 regions, 3 islands areas*; Borders, Central, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Grampian, Highland, Lothian, Orkney*, Shetland*, Strathclyde, Tayside, Western Isles*; Wales—8 counties; Clwyd, Dyfed, Gwent, Gwynedd, Mid Glamorgan, Powys, South Glamorgan, West Glamorgan
    note: England may now have 35 counties and Wales 9 counties

    Dependent areas: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, 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 was enacted under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284; in the Act of Union of 1707, England and Scotland agreed to permanent union 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: Celebration of the Birthday of the Queen (second Saturday in June)

    Constitution: unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice

    Legal system: common law tradition with early Roman and modern continental influences; no judicial review of Acts of Parliament; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations; British courts and legislation are increasingly subject to review by European Union courts

    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 Anthony C. L. (Tony) BLAIR (since 2 May 1997)
    cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
    elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the prime minister is the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons (assuming there is no majority party, a prime minister would have a majority coalition or at least a coalition that was not rejected by the majority)

    Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of House of Lords (1,200 seats; four-fifths of the members are hereditary peers, two archbishops, 24 other senior bishops, serving and retired Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, other life peers, Scottish peers) and House of Commons (659 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms unless the House is dissolved earlier)
    elections: House of Lords—no elections; House of Commons—last held 1 May 1997 (next to be held by NA May 2002); note—in 1998 elections were held for a Northern Ireland Parliament; in 1999 there will be elections for a new Scottish parliament and a new Welsh Assembly
    election results: House of Commons—percent of vote by party—Labor 44.5%, Conservative 31%, Liberal Democratic 17%, other 7.5%; seats by party—Labor 418, Conservative 165, Liberal Democrat 46, other 30

    Judicial branch: House of Lords, several Lords of Appeal in Ordinary are appointed by the monarch for life

    Political parties and leaders: Conservative and Unionist Party [William HAGUE]; Labor Party [Anthony (Tony) Blair]; Liberal Democrats [Jeremy (Paddy) ASHDOWN]; Scottish National Party [Alex SALMOND]; Welsh National Party (Plaid Cymru) [Dafydd Iwan WIGLEY]; Ulster Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [David TRIMBLE]; Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [Rev. Ian PAISLEY]; Social Democratic and Labor Party or SDLP (Northern Ireland) [John HUME]; Sinn Fein (Northern Ireland) [Gerry ADAMS]; Alliance Party (Northern Ireland) [Seamus CLOSE]

    Political pressure groups and leaders: Trades Union Congress; Confederation of British Industry; National Farmers' Union; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

    International organization participation: AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, C, CCC, CDB (non-regional), CE, CERN, CP, EAPC, EBRD, ECA (associate), ECE, ECLAC, EIB, ESA, ESCAP, EU, FAO, G- 5, G- 7, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, MTCR, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNOMIG, UNOMSIL, UNRWA, UNU, UPU, WCL, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, ZC

    Diplomatic representation in the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Sir Christopher J. R. MEYER
    chancery: 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 588-6500
    FAX: [1] (202) 588-7870
    consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
    consulate(s): Dallas, Miami, and Seattle

    Diplomatic representation from the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Philip LADER
    embassy: 24/31 Grosvenor Square, London, W. 1A1AE
    mailing address: PSC 801, Box 40, FPO AE 09498-4040
    telephone: [44] (171) 499-9000
    FAX: [44] (171) 409-1637
    consulate(s) general: Belfast, Edinburgh

    Flag description: blue 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); known as the Union Flag or 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, as well as British overseas territories

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)