The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state - the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea. The United Kingdom is a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system, with its seat of government in the capital city of London. It is a country in its own right and consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are three devolved national administrations, each with varying powers, situated in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh; the capitals of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland respectively. Associated with the UK, but not constitutionally part of it, are three Crown Dependencies (comprising the Channel Island Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey in the English Channel, the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea) and fourteen overseas territories. These are remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in 1922, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land surface and was the largest empire in history. British influence can still be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former territories. The UK is a developed country and has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and seventh-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It was the world's first industrialized country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power with leading economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence. It is a recognized nuclear weapons state and its military expenditure ranks third or fourth in the world. It is a member state of the European Union, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the G8, the G20, the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization and NATO. History
The history of the United Kingdom as a unified sovereign state began with the political union of the kingdoms of England, which included Wales, and Scotland on 1 May 1707 in accordance with the Treaty of Union, as ratified by the Acts of Union 1707. The Union created the new state of Great Britain, which shared a single constitutional monarch and a single Parliament of Great Britain at Westminster. Prior to this, the kingdoms of England and Scotland had been separate sovereign states, although in personal union following the Union of the Crowns of 1603, each with political, administrative and cultural institutions including representative governance, law systems, and distinguished contributions to the arts and sciences, upon which the institutions of the United Kingdom were later to be built. The early years of the unified kingdom of Great Britain were marked by Jacobite risings which ended with defeat for the Stuart cause at Culloden in 1746. Later, in 1763, victory in the Seven Years War led to the dominance of the British Empire, which was to be the foremost global power for over a century and grew to become the largest empire in history. By 1921, the British Empire held sway over a population of about 458 million people, approximately one-quarter of the world's population and as a result, the culture of the United Kingdom, and its industrial, political and linguistic legacy, is widespread. In 1801, Great Britain and Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Ireland effectively...
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