The United Kingdom (UK) is a sovereign state in Europe. Its official name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It lies off the north-western coast of the European mainland. It includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. It shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland to the north, but is mainly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to its west and north, the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to its south.
The United Kingdom has a population of about 64.1 million inhabitants and is the 22nd-most populous country. It is a constitutional monarchy with a capital city, London. The current monarch since 6 February 1952 is Queen Elizabeth II. The UK is formed by four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
While Wales became a part of the Kingdom of England in 1543, Scotland was unified in 1707. In 1801, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was constituted, but it wasn’t until 1922 that this state received the name of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The UK also has fourteen Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which once encompassed almost a quarter of the world’s land mass.
The United was the world’s first industrialised country and the world’s foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Nowadays, it remains a great power with important economic, cultural, military, scientific, and political influence internationally.