The United Kingdom has experienced successive waves of migration. The Great Famine in Ireland, then part of the United Kingdom, resulted in perhaps a million people migrating to Great Britain. Throughout the 19th century a small population of German immigrants built up, numbering 28,644 in England and Wales in 1861. London held around half of this population, and other small communities existed in Manchester, Bradford and elsewhere. The German immigrant community was the largest group until 1891, when it became second to Russian Jews. England has had small Jewish communities for many centuries, subject to occasional expulsions, but British Jews numbered fewer than 10,000 at the start of the 19th century. After 1881, Russian Jews suffered bitter persecutions and some had 2,000,000 left the Russian Empire (which included parts of modern-day Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania) by 1914. Around 120,000 settled permanently in Britain, becoming the largest ethnic minority from outside the British Isles; this population had increased to 370,000 by 1938. Unable to return to Poland at the end of the Second World War, over 120,000 Polish veterans remained in the UK permanently. After the Second World War, there was significant immigration from the colonies and newly independent former colonies, many from the Caribbean and Indian subcontinent, partly as a legacy of empire and partly driven by labour shortages. In 1841, 0.25 per cent of the population of England and Wales was born in a foreign country, increasing to 1.5 per cent by 1901, 2.6 per cent by 1931, and 4.4 per cent in 1951.
Historically, indigenous British people were thought to be descended from the various ethnic groups that settled there before the 12th century: the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Norse and the Normans. Welsh people could be the oldest ethnic group in the UK. A 2006 genetic study shows that more than 50 per cent of England's gene pool contains Germanic Y chromosomes. Another 2005 genetic analysis indicates that "about 75 per cent of the traceable ancestors of the modern British population had arrived in the British isles by about 6,200 years ago, at the start of the British Neolithic or Stone Age", and that the British broadly share a common ancestry with the Basque people.More Info
The fourteen British Overseas Territories are remnants of the British Empire: they are Anguilla; Bermuda; the British Antarctic Territory; the British Indian Ocean Territory; the British Virgin Islands; the Cayman Islands; the Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; the Turks and Caicos Islands; the Pitcairn Islands; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; and Akrotiri and Dhekelia on the island of Cyprus. British claims in Antarctica have limited international recognition. Collectively Britain's overseas territories encompass an approximate land area of 480,000 square nautical miles (640,000 sq mi; 1,600,000 km2), with a total population of approximately 250,000. A 1999 UK government white paper stated that: "[The] Overseas Territories are British for as long as they wish to remain British. Britain has willingly granted independence where it has been requested; and we will continue to do so where this is an option." Self-determination is also enshrined in the constitutions of several overseas territories and three have specifically voted to remain under British sovereignty (Bermuda in 1995, Gibraltar in 2002 and the Falkland Islands in 2013).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 UK has a railway network of 10,072 miles (16,209 km) in Great Britain and 189 miles (304 km) in Northern Ireland. Railways in Northern Ireland are operated by NI Railways, a subsidiary of state-owned Translink. In Great Britain, the British Rail network was privatised between 1994 and 1997, which was followed by a rapid rise in passenger numbers following years of decline, although the factors behind this are disputed. The UK was ranked eighth among national European rail systems in the 2017 European Railway Performance Index assessing intensity of use, quality of service and safety. Network Rail owns and manages most of the fixed assets (tracks, signals etc.). Around twenty, mostly privately owned, train operating companies operate passenger trains. In 2015, 1.68 billion passengers were carried. There are about 1,000 freight trains in daily operation. HS2, a new high-speed railway line, is estimated to cost £56 billion. Crossrail, under construction in London, is Europe's largest construction project with a £15 billion projected cost.More Info
For local government purposes, Scotland is divided into 32 council areas, with wide variation in both size and population. The cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee are separate council areas, as is the Highland Council, which includes a third of Scotland's area but only just over 200,000 people. Local councils are made up of elected councillors, of whom there are 1,223; they are paid a part-time salary. Elections are conducted by single transferable vote in multi-member wards that elect either three or four councillors. Each council elects a Provost, or Convenor, to chair meetings of the council and to act as a figurehead for the area.More Info
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