iminished economic position, a policy of decolonisation was initiated, starting with the granting of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947. Over the next three decades, most territories of the Empire gained independence and became sovereign members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Although the new postwar limits of Britain's political role were illustrated by the Suez Crisis of 1956, the UK nevertheless became one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and was the third country to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal (with its first atomic bomb test in 1952). The international spread of the English language also ensured the continuing international influence of its literature and culture, while from the 1960s its popular culture also found influence abroad. As a result of a shortage of workers in the 1950s, the British Government encouraged immigration from Commonwealth countries, thereby transforming Britain into a multi-ethnic society in the following decades. In 1973, the UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC), and when the EEC became the European Union (EU) in 1992, it was one of the 12 founding members. From the late 1960s Northern Ireland suffered communal and paramilitary violence (sometimes affecting other parts of the UK and also the Republic of Ireland) conventionally known as the Troubles. It is usually considered to have ended with the Belfast "Good Friday" Agreement of 1998.
Following a period of widespread economic slowdown and industrial strife in the 1970s, the Conservative Government of the 1980s initiated a radical policy of deregulation, particularly of the financial sector, flexible labour markets, the sale of state-owned companies (privatisation), and the withdrawal of subsidies to others. Aided, from 1984, by the inflow of substantial North Sea oil revenues, the UK experienced a period of significant economic growth. Around the end of the 20th century there were major changes to the