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THE UNITED KINGDOM

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The UK does not de jure have an official language but the predominant spoken language is English, a West Germanic language descended from Old English which features a large number of borrowings from Old Norse, Norman French and Latin. Largely because of the British Empire, the English language has spread across the world, and become the international language of business as well as the most widely taught second language. Scots, a language descended from early northern Middle English, is recognised at European level. There are also four Celtic languages in use in the UK: Welsh, Irish Gaelic (generally just referred to as Irish), Scottish Gaelic and Cornish. In the 2001 Census over a fifth (21%) of the population of Wales said they could speak Welsh, an increase from the 1991 Census (18%) In addition, it is estimated that about 200,000 Welsh speakers live in England The 2001 census in Northern Ireland showed that 167,487 (10.4%) people "had some knowledge of Irish" (see Irish language in Northern Ireland), almost exclusively in the Catholic/nationalist population. Over 92,000 people in Scotland (just under 2% of the population) had some Gaelic language ability, including 72% of those living in the Outer Hebrides. The number of schoolchildren being taught in Welsh, Gaelic and Irish is increasing Welsh and Scottish Gaelic are also spoken by small groups around the globe with some Gaelic still spoken in Nova Scotia, Canada, and Welsh in Patagonia, Argentina. Across the United Kingdom, it is generally compulsory for pupils to study a second language to some extent: up to the age of 14 in England, and up to age 16 in Scotland. French and German are the two most commonly taught second languages in England and Scotland. In Wales, all pupils up to age 16 are either taught in Welsh or taught Welsh as a second language. Religion. The Treaty of Union that led to the formation of the United Kingdom ensured that there would be a Protestant succession as well as a link between church and state that still remains. Christianity is the major religion, followed by Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and then Judaism in terms of number of adherents. The 2007 Tearfund Survey revealed 53% identified themselves as Christian which was similar to the 2004 British Social Attitudes Survey, and to the 2001 Census in which 71.6% said that Christianity was their religion, (though the latter used "a softer question.") However, the Tearfund survey showed only one in ten Britons actually attend church weekly There is also a large and growing atheist and agnostic population. In the 2001 census, 9.1 million (15% of the UK population) claimed no religion, with a further 4.3 million (7% of the UK population) not stating a religious preference There is a disparity between the figures for those identifying themselves with a particular religion and for those proclaiming a belief in a God: a Eurobarometer poll conducted in 2005 showed that 38% of the respondents believed that "there is a God", 40% believed that "there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 20% said "I don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force" Christianity.Christianity is the main religion in England with the Church of England (Anglican) the Established Church:[153] the church retains a representation in the UK Parliament and the British monarch is a member of the church (required under Article 2 of the Treaty of Union) as well as its Supreme Governor. The Church of England also retains the right to draft legislative measures (related to religious administration) through the General Synod that can then be passed into law by Parliament. The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales is the second largest Christian church with around five million members, mainly in England. There are also growing Orthodox, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, with Pentecostal churches in England now third after the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in terms of church attendance. Among the Pentecostal churches are Elim Pentecostal Church and Assemblies of God in the United Kingdom. Other Christian groups include The Salvation Army, United Reformed Church, Assemblies of God, Plymouth Brethren, Baptist Union, Methodists, Congregationalists, Newfrontiers and house churches.

The presbyterian Church of Scotland (known informally as The Kirk), is recognised as the national church of Scotland and not subject to state control. The British monarch is an ordinary member and is required to swear an oath to "defend the security" of the church upon his or her accession. The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland is Scotland's second largest Christian church, representing a sixth of the population The Scottish Episcopal Church, which is part of the Anglican Communion, dates from the final establishment of Presbyterianism in Scotland in 1690, when it split from the Church of Scotland and is not a 'daughter church' of the Church of England. Further splits in the Church of Scotland, especially in the nineteenth century, led to the creation of various other Presbyterian churches in Scotland, including the Free Church of Scotland. In the 1920s, the Church in Wales became independent from the Church of England and became 'disestablished' but remains in the Anglican Communion. Baptist Union of Wales, Methodism and the Presbyterian Church of Wales are present in Wales as well. The main religious groups in Northern Ireland are organized on an all-Ireland basis. Though Protestants and Anglicans are in the overall majority the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland is the largest single church. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland, closely linked to the Church of Scotland in terms of theology and history, is the second largest church followed by the Church of Ireland (Anglican) which was disestablished in the nineteenth century.

 

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