Unit 7 - UK in the 21st Century


UK's characteristics

Physical Characteristics

  • Most mountains in north and west - few roads and sparsely populated
  • East and south are flat with few hilly areas - suitable for settlements, roads and railways and densely populated. 
  • Rivers flow down from mountainous areas to sea.

Average Rainfall

  • north and west have highest rainfall e.g. northwest Scotland - 2500mm annually
  • south and east have lower rainfall - 500mm-625mm annually
  • rainfall tends to be higher in coastal areas than inland and on high relief land

Land Use

70% agricultural            12% built on/urban               13% forest (natural + man-planted)

44% grassland        7% mountain + moorland        1% water        20% arable land        3% other

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UK's characteristics continued

Population density

  • highest in cities
  • also high in areas around major cities/clusters or cities because of employment opportunities, shops and entertainment
  • mountainous regions (northern Scotland and central Wales) have low pop density
  • north England and west Wales have low pop density as well

High population density can cause problems:

  • housing shortage - drive up price of houses
  • pressure on services like healthcare and education facilities - long wait lists for doctors and kinds having to travel further away for school
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Relief Rainfall in the UK

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UK's Changing Population

  • UK population is 65 million
  • This is expected to rise to 70 million by 2030

Reasons for growth:

  • natural increase
  • net migration
  • life expectancy

The changing pop structure of the UK is shown using pop pyramids - shows that the country's birth rate is fairly low and death rate is also low, meaning there are more elderly people (ageing pop).

Pop pyramids are useful to help plan for the future.

  • Between 2001 to 2015 - number of people aged 25-29 increased
  • Number of people aged 0-39 increased by 3% and the number of people aged over 39 increased by 18%
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Our Ageing Population

  • In UK - 10 million aged 65 and over (16% of pop)
  • Life expectancy - 81 (women) and 76 (men)
  • High elderly pop in east and south-west of England in coastal areas because it's warmer and relaxing
  • North Scotland and big cities have low elderly pop because as people get older, they migrate out of cities due to the unpleasant overcrowding in cities and extremely cold weather in Scotland

Causes of an ageing pop:

  • better healthcare
  • good lifestyle
  • women staying in education longer
  • expensive to have kids
  • marriage at a later age
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Our Ageing Population continued

Social effects of an ageing pop:

  • healthcare services under pressure
  • some family members act as unpaid carers
  • may not be able to afford t have kids with dependent older relatives

Economic effects:

  • older people play less tax - their economic contribution decreases
  • many older people have more disposable income which they spend on good and services which boost the economy

How can we solve this problem?

  • By 2020, men and women will have same retirement age - decreased to 68 years by 2046
  • Encouraging people to have kids
  • Encouraging older people to keep fit and healthy
  • Taxes being increased
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Net Migration, Ethnic Diversity and London's Growi

Net migration:

  • About 1/2 of UK population growth is due to natural increase and other 1/2 is from migration
  • Number of people moving to UK has been greater than the number leaving since 2001
  • Majority of migrants move to London and the south-east because of urban growth

Ethnic diversity and London's growing pop:

  • Pop in 2001 = 7.2 million
  • Pop in 2015 = 8.5 million
  • Growth highest amongst groups or working age (20-69)
  • 37% of London's pop were born in another country
  • Ethnic diversity in London has increased in % of white, non-British people, Black African and Asian people
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UK's Changing Economy

Employment sectors have changed:

  • since 2001, jobs in quarternary industries have increased the most, while secondary industries have declined
  • also since 2001, number of people working in primary and tertiary sectors have stayed fairly steady

UK working hours: 

2011 - average number of hours worked a week was 42.7 (3rd highest in EU)

Working hours have changed with new types of work patterns:

  • Part-time work
  • Flexi-time
  • Sub-contracting
  • 0 hours contract
  • Teleworking/homeworking
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CASE STUDY - Industrial decline in Merthyr Tydfil

19th century - Ironworks was one of the largest in the world

early 20th century - Ironworks closed, coal mining employed thousands

later 20th century - Coal mining declined, large 'Hoover' factory employed over 5000 people

2009 - Factory closed, putting remaining 400 employees out of work

2013 - EE opened call centre

In 1981, Conservative government set up 'Enterprise Zones Provided' to attract companies to locate to areas of industrial decline through:

  • tax relief
  • improved local/regional transport links
  • trained local workforce 
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Economic Hubs

Economic hubs - places where economic activity is concentrated

  • Normally developed, hi-tech, research-based industries.
  • Highly qualified graduate workforce - many hubs near unis
  • Many main hubs have high conc. of tertiary and quarternary industries, often based in science or business parks on outskirts of cities with good transport links and unis
  • Hubs are concentrated in south-east England.

Examples of hubs are:

  • Glasgow - renewable energy + new tech for building +medicine
  • Belfast - financial services and international trade
  • Aberdeen - oil + gas extraction, although developing as R+D hub because of their limited availability
  • Salford - media (BBC + ITV) + manufacturing chemicals.
  • Cambridge - science park (R+D)
  • London - trade and financial (global)
  • Silicon Glen - hi-tech industries based in key Scottish cities - electronics + software
  • Silicon Fen - hi-tech research hubs associated with Cambridge Uni
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Factors to Identify an Economic Hub

Factors include:

  • Number of

-financial institutions, headquarters of international companies, large number of chain stores, brands 

  • Range of successful transport links:

-airport, railway, motorways

  • Financial/demographic factors:

-low unemployment, high skills level, high qualifications, high cost of housing, high weekly/monthly wage/pay

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CASE STUDY - London as an economic hub

  • Major world city with a key financial industry in Canary Wharf.
  • Canary Wharf is where many large banks have their headquarters.
  • 2008 - economic crisis meant many large banks came close to collapsing.
  • Ranks higher than any other UK city for economic performance.
  • Many start-up companies in media + hi-tech industries with well-established companies as well

e.g Silicon Roundabout

  • East London
  • Focal point for 100s of new start-up companies, especially in hi-tech industry
  • Lots of young people attracted here.
  • Many well-established companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google have invested here.
  • Good transport links - underground, rail links, M25 all around city.
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UK's Role in the World - International Organisatio

The UK is part of many organisations, all set up for different purposes. Some of these organisations include:


  • 415 million people
  • set up to create peace
  • over 70 years
  • unrestricted travel between member countries
  • single trade market


  • est. 1945
  • preventing war outbreak
  • security council - France, UK, USA, China, Russia
  • general assembly + security council agree on resolutions
  • 193 member countries
  • protects human rights, economic development, the environment + provide aid after disasters
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International Organisations continued + UK in the


  • est. 1949
  • combined wealth = $30 trillion
  • 28 countries in North America and Europe
  • work militarily and politically to resolve conflict as last resort

UK in the Middle East - Timeline

  • 1948 - UN proposed plan to divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab state. Palestine Arabs didn't agree but Jews did - Israel was established.
  • 1979 - Islamic revolutions replaced king with Islamic ruler.
  • 1984 - UK broke ties with Iran after British policewoman was killed outside embassy in London.
  • 2003 - NATO forces invaded Iraq after 9/11
  • 2011 - 'Arab Spring' led to mass protests by Syrians against their government.
  • 2014 - UK links with Iran re-established
  • 2015 - UK joined international forces in bombing Islamic extremists in Syria.
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UK Media Exports

In 2012, media industries employed over 1.7 million people + exported over £17 billion of products globally.

Examples of exported media products:

  • 'Downton Abbey' watched by 120 million in 100+ countries
  • 'X Factor' watched by 360+ million in 147 states, with 51 countries adopting their own version
  • 'Skyfall' earned £100 million in 2012 (highest earning film at British Box Office) - UK films took $5.3 billion in 2012 at global box office
  • UK music artists account for nearly 14% of global album sales each year
  • 'Harry Potter' books have been translated in 68 languages + has sold 400+ million copies in 200+ states
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Influence Around the World

  • Most exported UK media is in English - foreign people develop better understanding of the language
  • Different lifestyles, values + beliefs of UK residents become more widely known + understood
  • Seeing UK portrayed positively in different media makes people want to come here to work, study or just visit - benefitting economy
  • Some programmes have adapted formats to fit to different cultures (for a price)
  • UK has one of the most critically acclaimed media industries in the world e.g Elstree Studios
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Multicultural UK

The UK is a multicultural country - for centuries, people have moved here from all over the world. High proportions of ethnic minorities from India, Pakistan and parts of Asia.

They bring their culture with them - sharing through setting up businesses such as shops + restaurants or building religious centres etc

Ethnic groups have influenced media, food and fashion in the UK:

  • Food that has originated from other countries have become staples for many Brits e.g pizza, curry etc.
  • Many mainstream supermarkets sell a great range of ingredients and ready-made food from other cultures
  • People from ethnic minority backgrounds have written, acted in + produced a number of successful TV shows - making UK media scene more diverse
  • Music styles have been influential in shaping music in UK (reggae, soul, dubstep etc)
  • In areas with high pop of an ethnic minority background, shops selling traditional clothes for those countries are likely to open.
  • Shops start to sell their own version of these clothes, often combining traditional + UK styles.
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