The UK population is estimated to be just over 64m in 2014. The main language is English, although around a quarter of the population of Wales speaks Welsh, and Scots Gaelic is spoken by some 60,000 Scots.
The UK government consists of a constitutional monarchy and a bicameral parliament, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The current head of church, state and the Commonwealth (which is made up of former British colonies) is Queen Elizabeth II. Members of the House of Commons are elected by popular vote for a period of four-five years. The current prime minister is David Cameron.
The service sector is the largest in the UK economy in terms of GDP, and is dominated by banking, finance and insurance, predominantly based in the City of London. The manufacturing sector has been in decline over recent decades, with services taking an ever larger share.
The UK is a key member of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations, and is also a member of the European Union. Its currency is the Pound Sterling (GBP); there are currently no plans for the UK to join the euro.
The United Kingdom has excellent telecommunications, with widespread land telephone, mobile telephone and Internet use. The country has extensive rail and road networks, including high-speed rail links to Europe via the Channel Tunnel. There are a number of airports in the UK, with London Heathrow said to be the world’s busiest in terms of passenger numbers. Container ports include Felixstowe (the largest), Liverpool, London and Southampton. The Port of Dover is an essential ferry link with Europe in terms of passenger and cargo transport.
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