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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland[note 1] (commonly 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[1][2] and consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.[3] There are three devolved national administrations, each with varying powers,[4][5] 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[6] and fourteen overseas territories.[7] 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 industrialised country[8] and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries.[9] The UK remains a great power with leading economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence.[10] It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and its military expenditure ranks third or fourth in the world.[11] The UK has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946; it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the G7, the G8, the G20, NATO, the OECD and the World Trade Organization.

NotesEdit

  1. In the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous (regional) languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, the UK's official name is as follows:
    • Cornish: Rywvaneth Unys Breten Veur ha Kledhbarth Iwerdhon;
    • Irish: Ríocht Aontaithe na Breataine Móire agus Thuaisceart Éireann;
    • Scots: Unitit Kinrick o Great Breetain an Northren Irland;
      • Ulster-Scots: Claught Kängrick o Docht Brätain an Norlin Airlann
        or Unitet Kängdom o Great Brittain an Norlin Airlann;
    • Scottish Gaelic: Rìoghachd Aonaichte na Breatainne Mòire is Èireann a Tuath;
    • Welsh: Teyrnas Unedig Prydain Fawr a Gogledd Iwerddon

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Britain 2001: The Official Yearbook of the United Kingdom". Office for National Statistics. p. vii. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_compendia/britain2001.pdf. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  2. "Countries within a country". Prime Minister's Office. 10 January 2003. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page823. 
  3. "The Countries of the UK". Office for National Statistics. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/geography/uk_countries.asp. Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  4. "Fall in UK university students". BBC News. 29 January 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7859034.stm. 
  5. "Country Overviews: United Kingdom". Transport Research Knowledge Centre. http://www.transport-research.info/web/countryprofiles/uk.cfm. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  6. "Key facts about the United Kingdom". Directgov. http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/LivingintheUK/DG_10012517. Retrieved 3 May 2011. "The full title of this country is 'the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'. 'The UK' is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 'Britain' is used informally, usually meaning the United Kingdom. 'Great Britain' is made up of England, Scotland and Wales. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of the UK." 
  7. "Working with Overseas Territories". Foreign and Commonwealth Office. http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/what-we-do/overseas-territories. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  8. Mathias, P. (2001). The First Industrial Nation: the Economic History of Britain, 1700–1914. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26672-6. 
  9. Ferguson, Niall (2004). Empire: The rise and demise of the British world order and the lessons for global power. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0465023282. 
  10. Sheridan, Greg (May 15, 2010). "Cameron has chance to make UK great again". The Australian (Sydney). http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/cameron-has-chance-to-make-uk-great-again/story-e6frg6zo-1225866975992. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  11. "The 15 Major Spender Countries in 2008". Military Expenditures. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/resultoutput/15majorspenders. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 

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