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UNITED KINGDOM - LAND OF GREAT TRADITIONS.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a sovereign state located on the western edge of Europe. It consists of four countries - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is governed by a parliamentary system and has a constitutional monarchy. Currently, Queen Elizabeth II is the country's monarch since February 1952.

The UK is the 11th largest country in Europe with an area of 243,000 square kilometres (93,800 square miles) and has an estimated population of 64.5 million, making it the 21st most-populous country in the world.

The United Kingdom has three Crown dependencies and fourteen Overseas Territories. The UK's Overseas Territories are the remnants of the British Empire, the largest empire in history, which ruled nearly a quarter of the world during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The UK economy is the world's ninth largest in terms of its purchasing power parity, the fifth-largest by its nominal gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and is also the second largest economy in Europe. Out of 188 countries, the United Kingdom ranks 14th in the Human Development Index (HDI), a measurement of basic human development that combines indicators of life expectancy, access to knowledge, literacy and the overall standards of living. The country ranks fourth in the world in terms of its military expenditure and is also a recognised nuclear weapons state.

A leading member state of the European Union (EU), the UK is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). It is also a member of the Council of Europe, the European Economic Community (EEC), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Commonwealth of Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the G7 finance ministers, the Group of 7 (G7) and the Group of Twenty (G20).

London, the UK's capital, is the world's financial hub. With the largest GDP compared to other European cities, London is referred to as one of the "command centres" of international economy. Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is also one of the largest financial centres in Europe. The pound sterling, the official currency of the United Kingdom, is the world's third-largest reserve currency. Currently, the UK ranks as the world's sixth major tourist destination.

The UK's service sector contributes some 73 per cent of the entire national GDP, while its industrial sector remains the second largest economic sector in the country. An international hub of aerospace engineering and technology, the UK aerospace industry, with an annual turnover of over Pound 25 billion, is the world's second-largest aerospace industry.

According to the UK Space Agency, the UK space industry is worth Pound 9.1 billion, with an annual growth rate of 7.5 per cent and by 2030 it is projected to become a Pound 40 billion industry. A leading contributor to the national economy, the British pharmaceutical sector has the third-highest share of global pharmaceutical expenditures in terms of research and development. Contributing nearly 1 per cent (Pound 9.9 billion) of its gross value added (GVA), the UK agricultural sector employs some 1.6 per cent of the workforce and caters to some 60 per cent of the country's food needs.

The country is also rich in such natural resources as tin, silica, salt, chalk, clay, coal, gypsum, iron ore, lead, limestone, petroleum and natural gas. The UK emerged as the first industrialised nation in the world. It has produced such great scientists as Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, James Clerk Maxwell, Stephen Hawking, etc. The nation has made a number of scientific discoveries such as hydrogen and penicillin, as well as decoding of DNA structure.

Among leading British inventors are James Watt, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Richard Arkwright, Michael Faraday, Robert Stephenson, George Stephenson, Richard Trevithick, Andrew Vivian, Joseph Swan, Alexander Graham Bell, John Logie Baird, Frank Whittle, Alan Turing and Tim Berners-Lee.

Being a leader in scientific research and development, the UK is the third largest contributor to scientific research papers and is the second largest in scientific citations. The UK is one of the largest publishers of books in the world. Offering a world-leading education system, British universities are ranked among the best higher education institutions in the world. Some 38 per cent of the country's population has a bachelor's degree.

The United Kingdom and South Asia

The UK is one of a few countries which have a global presence with a significant cultural, economic and political influence, which is exerted through its military engagements, official development assistance (ODA), foreign investments and by forming trading relations with various countries. South Asia has been a leading recipient of UK assistance in a number of areas, such as human resource development, literacy growth, good governance, climate change, employment, sanitation, hygiene, health and energy sectors, etc.

The UK's South Asia Water Governance Programme (SAWGP) helps in adapting effective management strategies for the three primary Himalayan Rivers, which are shared by seven countries in South Asia. The programme helps South Asian countries deal with flooding, maximizing the use of water for irrigation and hydropower.

The CDC Group plc, UK's development finance institution, invests in South Asian countries to support the building of businesses in job-creating sectors, such as construction, health, education, agribusiness, infrastructure, manufacturing and financial institutions. Along with sizeable investments, CDC brings British expertise in finance and development.

The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), in association with the International Labour Organization (ILO), launched an initiative to prevent some 100,000 South Asian women from falling victims to labour and sex trafficking in the Middle East. The project provides pre-departure training and other support to those girls and women who migrate from South Asia in search of employment opportunities.

DFID has been running a Climate Proofing Growth and Development (CPGD) programme in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan. The South Asia Research Hub (SARH), another initiative taken by DFID, provides training to South Asian organisations to help them conduct systematic reviews in policy-making and development programming.

Funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Chevening Scholarships programme awards opportunities to students from around the world, including South Asia to undertake postgraduate studies in leading British universities in different subjects, such as security studies, good governance, democracy, regional co-operation, conflict resolution, public services, energy, innovation and business.
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Publication:South Asia
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 30, 2016
Words:1150
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