A general assessment of Britain today. Thatcherism and its legacy. Britain and Europe, Belarus and beyond.
At the most recent census in 2001, the total population of the United Kingdom was 58,789,194, the third largest in the European Union, the fifth largest in the Commonwealth and the twenty-first largest in the world. By mid-2007, this was estimated to have grown to 60,975,000. Current population growth is mainly due to net immigration but a rising birth rate and increasing life expectancy have also contributed. The mid-2007 population estimates also revealed that, for the first time, the UK is now home to more people of pensionable age than children under the age of 16.England's population by mid-2007 was estimated to be 51.1 million
In contrast with some other European countries, immigration is contributing to a rising population, accounting for about half of the population increase between 1991 and 2001. Citizens of the European Union have the right to live and work in the United Kingdom and one in six immigrants were from Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004, with larger numbers coming from New Commonwealth countries. Transitional arrangements apply to Romanians and Bulgarians whose countries joined the EU in January 2007. Official figures showed that 2.3 million net migrants have moved to Britain since 1997, 84% of them from outside Europe
The Treaty of Union that led to the formation of the United Kingdom ensured that there would be a protestant succession as well as a link between church and state that still remains. Christianity is the major religion, followed by Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and then Judaism in terms of number of adherents. The 2007 Tearfund Survey revealed 53% identified themselves as Christian which was similar to the 2004 British Social Attitudes Surve
Christianity is the main religion in England with the anglican Church of England the Established Church: the church retains a representation in the UK Parliament and the British monarch is a member of the Church
The UK economy is made up (in descending order of size) of the economies of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Based on market exchange rates, the United Kingdom is today the fifth largest economy in the world and the second largest in Europe after Germany.
The Industrial Revolution started in the United Kingdom with an initial concentration on heavy industries such as shipbuilding, coal mining, steel production, and textiles.
The UK service sector, however, has grown substantially, and now makes up about 73% of GDP. The service sector is dominated by financial services, especially in banking and insurance. London is the world's largest financial centre with the London Stock Exchange, the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange, and the Lloyd's of London insurance market all based in the City of London. London is a major centre for international business and commerce and is the leader of the three "command centres" for the global economy (along with New York City and Tokyo)
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