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United Kingdom - Overview

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises


Capital:: London
Area:: 244 km2
Total Population:: 63.613
Annual growth rate:: 1.00%
Density:: 263.00/km2
Urban population:: 80%
Population of London (12.200), Birmingham (2.284), Manchester (2.240), Leeds (1.500), Glasgow (1.200), Liverpool (817)
Official language: English. Welsh in Wales.
Other languages spoken: Welsh in Wales.
Business language: English
Ethnic Origins:: 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%.
Beliefs: Anglicans 46.3%
Catholics 21.5%
Muslims - Sunni 10.8%
Sikhs 4.2%
Protestants 2.6%
Hindus 1.4%
Jewish 1.3%
Others 11.9%.
Telephone codes:
To make a call from: 0
To make a call to: +44
Internet suffix:: .uk
Type of State::
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy based on parliamentary democracy. It is divided into four parts called constituent countries that are: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The UK is a unitary state with partial devolution of power in Scotland, Wales, and in Northern Ireland.
Type of economy::
High-income economy, OECD member, G8 member
Second greatest financial market in the world. The country has been hit hardly by the economic crisis and the economy shows a high public deficit.

Economic overview

After five years of economic recession, the British economy saw a strong recovery in 2013, showing an economic growth of 1.4%, driven by household consumption (over 60% of the GDP) and a recovery of lending. Growth should stabilise in 2014 and is expected to reach around 2.4% of the GDP.

Some analysts have pointed out that the signs of recovery from 2013 must be seen in the right context and are mostly the effect of a rebound and a catching up, rather than of a real improvement of the economy. The growth has in fact been driven my the consumption of households, which have again begun to fall into debt and the British economy therefore remains structurally imbalanced. Since the beginning of the crisis, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has been trying to pursue his austerity policy and introduce measures to stimulate the manufacturing sector in order to offset the economy's dependency on consumption and lending. The state deficit has been considerably reduced; it should decrease to less than 3% by 2016-17 and a balanced budget should be reached by 2018-19. There is still the issue of energy and of reconciling the need for reducing carbon emissions with the necessary replacement of old power plants and  rising energy prices, which create political tensions.

The unemployment rate, prior to the crisis one of the lowest in Europe, has been rising sharply and is estimated at around 8%. One out of five people under 25 is unemployed. Unemployment has been partially contained through wage freezing and the development of part-time work.

Main industries

The Agricultural sector accounts for less than 1% of the GDP, but is very productive. Main crops are potatoes, beetroot, wheat and barley. Livestock farming (especially sheep and cattle) continues to be a major agricultural activity, despite the crises of "mad cow" and "foot and mouth" diseases. The fishing sector is also well developed but is currently suffering from the depletion of fish volumes in the traditional fishing areas.

The United Kingdom has considerable mineral resources. Once the world's 10th biggest oil producer with huge natural gas reserves, its production is dropping fast. Nevertheless, groups like BP and Shell continue to be amongst the global leaders in the petroleum industry.

The secondary sector is not very competitive. The main activities are tool machinery, transport material and chemical products. The sectors with a good potential are information and communication technologies, bio-technology, aviation industry, renewable energies and defense.

The services sector, which employs almost 80% of the active population and contributes to over three quarters of the GDP, is the driving force behind the economy. London remains Europe's largest financial market place, on par with New York.

Foreign trade overview

The United Kingdom is one of the biggest actors of international trade. Trade represents more than 60% of its GDP. It is the world's third biggest exporter and the fourth biggest importer of commercial services, and the tenth biggest exporter and sixth biggest importer of goods. The United Kingdom's main trade partners are the European Union, the United States and China.

The United Kingdom shows a trade deficit. Due to the current economic slowdown and the difficulties in the euro zone, a worsening of the situation is likely. In 2013, the trade deficit of goods decreased because exports rose by 1.3% while imports only increased by 0.8%. The volume of trade remains below its 2010 level.


According to the 2013 World Investment Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Kingdom is the sixth largest recipient of direct foreign investment (FDI) in the world. FDI flux, which had markedly decreased since the international financial crisis of 2009, again resumed an upward trend in 2012 and we should see a further strenghtening of this trend in the coming year.

The UK nevertheless has real strengths: London remains the financial capital of Europe, Great Britain has a strong currency and remains of the most important European markets.
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