The UK is one of the world’s leading commercial and industrialized nations. In terms of gross national product (GNP) it ranks fifth in the world, with Italy, after the United States, Japan, Germany, and France. Major industries, such as transport, communications, steel, petroleum, coal, gas, and electricity were sold to private investors by the Conservative government in the 1980s and thi first half of the 1990s. In January 1973, Britain became a member of the European Community (now the European Union).
About 77 per cent of the land area of Britain is under agricultural use of some sort. Agriculture employs just 2 per cent of the population. It achieves high levels of efficiency and productivity. Britain is self-sufficient in 60 per cent of all types of food and animal feed.
Large parts of Britain are suitable only for grazing, but wheat, barley, sugar beet, potatoes and other plants are grown.
Mining and Energy
Britain has lot of minerals and raw materials, e.g. coal, iron ore, zinc, lead, gold, salt, clay and many kinds of stone. U.K. has greatest energy resources of the EU, and is a significant world producer of oil and natural gas.
Currency, Banking and Finance
The pound, of 100 new pence, is the basic unit of curency. In 1968 Britain took the first step in conversion of its currency to the decimal system of coinage by introducing 5-pence and 10-pence coins instead of old shillings.
The Bank of England was nationalized in 1946 and it is the sole bank of issue in England and Wales. Several banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland may also issue currencies but only in limited amounts. Great Britain has 13 major commercial bamks (Lloyds, Barclays, National Westminster, Midland etc.).
The financial service sector expanded fast after the deregulation of Stock Exchange, or “Big Bang”, in 1984. Today the financial service industry is based in Leeds, Manchester, Cardiff, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow and also in the City of London.
Great Britain is member of European Economic Area, the world’s largest trading block. Today Britain is the fifth-largest trading nation exporting more per capita than U.S.A. and Japan. They trade mostly with all countries of EU and U.S. Its major trading articles are foodstuffs, wood and paper, chemichals, electronics and other manufactured goods.