Major scientific discoveries from the 18th century include hydrogen by Henry Cavendish; from the 20th century penicillin by Alexander Fleming, and the structure of DNA, by Francis Crick and others. Famous British engineers and inventors of the Industrial Revolution include James Watt, George Stephenson, Richard Arkwright, Robert Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Other major engineering projects and applications by people from the UK include the steam locomotive, developed by Richard Trevithick and Andrew Vivian; from the 19th century the electric motor by Michael Faraday, the first computer designed by Charles Babbage, the first commercial electrical telegraph by William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone, the incandescent light bulb by Joseph Swan, and the first practical telephone, patented by Alexander Graham Bell; and in the 20th century the world's first working television system by John Logie Baird and others, the jet engine by Frank Whittle, the basis of the modern computer by Alan Turing, and the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee.
The British armed forces played a key role in establishing the British Empire as the dominant world power in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. By emerging victorious from conflicts, Britain has often been able to decisively influence world events. Since the end of the British Empire, the UK has remained a major military power. Following the end of the Cold War, defence policy has a stated assumption that "the most demanding operations" will be undertaken as part of a coalition. UK military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, have followed this approach. Setting aside the intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000, the last occasion on which the British military fought alone was the Falklands War of 1982.More Info
England and Scotland were leading centres of the Scientific Revolution from the 17th century. The United Kingdom led the Industrial Revolution from the 18th century, and has continued to produce scientists and engineers credited with important advances. Major theorists from the 17th and 18th centuries include Isaac Newton, whose laws of motion and illumination of gravity have been seen as a keystone of modern science; from the 19th century Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution by natural selection was fundamental to the development of modern biology, and James Clerk Maxwell, who formulated classical electromagnetic theory; and more recently Stephen Hawking, who advanced major theories in the fields of cosmology, quantum gravity and the investigation of black holes.More Info
The total area of the United Kingdom is approximately 244,820 square kilometres (94,530 sq mi). The country occupies the major part of the British Isles archipelago and includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern one-sixth of the island of Ireland and some smaller surrounding islands. It lies between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea with the south-east coast coming within 22 miles (35 km) of the coast of northern France, from which it is separated by the English Channel. In 1993 10 per cent of the UK was forested, 46 per cent used for pastures and 25 per cent cultivated for agriculture. The Royal Greenwich Observatory in London was chosen as the defining point of the Prime Meridian in Washington, D.C. in 1884, although due to more accurate modern measurement the meridian actually lies 100 metres to the east of the observatory.More Info
Since the 1980s, UK economic inequality, like Canada, Australia and the United States, has grown faster than in other developed countries. The poverty line in the UK is commonly defined as being 60 per cent of the median household income. The Office for National Statistics has estimated that in 2011, 14 million people were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, and that one person in 20 (5.1 per cent) was experiencing "severe material depression", up from 3 million people in 1977. Although the UK does not have an official poverty measure, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Social Metrics Commission estimate, based on government data, that there are 14 million people in poverty in the UK. 1.5 million people experienced destitution in 2017. In 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights visited the UK and found that government policies and cuts to social support are "entrenching high levels of poverty and inflicting unnecessary misery in one of the richest countries in the world." His final 2019 report found that the UK government was doubling down on policies that have "led to the systematic immiseration of millions across Great Britain" and that sustained and widespread cuts to social support "amount to retrogressive measures in clear violation of the United Kingdom’s human rights obligations."More Info
The UK service sector makes up around 79 per cent of GDP. London is one of the three "command centres" of the global economy (alongside New York City and Tokyo), it is the world's largest financial centre alongside New York, and it has the largest city GDP in Europe. Tourism is very important to the British economy; with over 27 million tourists arriving in 2004, the United Kingdom is ranked as the sixth major tourist destination in the world and London has the most international visitors of any city in the world. The creative industries accounted for 7 per cent GVA in 2005 and grew at an average of 6 per cent per annum between 1997 and 2005.More Info
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