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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,nb 6 commonly known
as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain (/ˈbrɪ.tən/), is a sovereign state located
off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country includes the
island of Great Britain (a term sometimes loosely applied to the whole state),
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 state: the Republic of Ireland.nb 7 Apart from this land border, the UK
is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea in the east, the English
Channel in the south and the Irish Sea in the west.
The UK's form of government is a constitutional monarchy1112 with a parliamentary system, and its capital city is London.13 The current British monarch°™since 6 February 1952°™is Queen Elizabeth II. The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.14 The latter three have devolved administrations,15 each with varying powers,1617 based in their capital cities, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively. Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are Crown dependencies and are not part of the UK.18 The United Kingdom has fourteen British Overseas Territories.19 These are remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former colonies.
The United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and eighth-largest by purchasing power parity. It was the world's first industrialised country20 and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries.21 The UK remains a great power with considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence internationally.2223 It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and its military expenditure ranks fourth in the world.24
The UK has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946. It has been a member of the European Union (EU) and its predecessor the European Economic Community (EEC) since 1973; it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G8, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The UK has a parliamentary government based on the Westminster system that has been emulated around the world: a legacy of the British Empire. The parliament of the United Kingdom that meets in the Palace of Westminster has two houses; an elected House of Commons and an appointed House of Lords. All bills passed are given Royal Assent before becoming law.
The position of prime minister, the UK's head of government,148 belongs to the member of parliament who can obtain the confidence of a majority in the House of Commons, usually the leader of the largest political party in that chamber. The prime minister chooses a cabinet and they are formally appointed by the monarch to form Her Majesty's Government. By convention, the Queen respects the prime minister's decisions of government.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have their own devolved government or executive, led by a First Minister (or, in the case of Northern Ireland, a diarchal First Minister and deputy First Minister), and a devolved unicameral legislature. England, the largest country of the United Kingdom, has no such devolved executive or legislature and is administered and legislated for directly by the UK government and parliament on all issues. Download