Official name: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Location: located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. It spans an archipelago including Great Britain, the northeastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands.Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK with a land border with another sovereign state, sharing it with the Republic of Ireland Apart from this land border, the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Sea, the North Sea, the English Channell, and the Irish Sea.
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and unitary state. It is a country consisting of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. It is governed by a parliamentary system with its seat of government in the capital city of London. There are three devolved national administrations, with varying powers in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, the capitals of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland respectively. There are three Crown Dependencies and fourteen overseas territories that are not constitutionally part of the UK. These territories are remnants of the British Empire, which at its height in 1922 encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land surface, the largest empire in history. As a result, British influence can still be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former territories.
Dependencies: The United Kingdom has sovereignty over seventeen territories which do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, 14 British Overseas Territories and three Crown Dependencies.
The fourteen British Overseas Territories are Anguilla; Bermuda; the British Antarctic Territory; the British Indian Ocean Territory; the British Virgin Islands; the Cayman Islands; the Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; the Turks and Caicos Islands; the Pitcairn Islands; South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands; and the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus. British claims in Antarctica are not universally recognised. The Crown Dependencies are British possessions of the Crown, as opposed to overseas territories of the United Kingdom. They comprise the Channel Island Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey in the English Channel, and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. Being independently administered jurisdictions, none forms part of the United Kingdom or of the European Union, although the UK government manages their foreign affairs and defence and the UK Parliament has the authority to legislate on their behalf. However, the power to pass legislation affecting the islands ultimately rests with their own respective legislative assemblies, with the assent of the Crown (Privy Council, or in the case of the Isle of Man in certain circumstances the Lieutenant-Governor). Since 2005, each Crown dependency has had a Chief Minister as head of government.
Language: English is the official language
Government: 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, and any Bill passed requires Royal Assent to become law. It is the ultimate legislative authority in the United Kingdom since the devolved parliament in Scotland and devolved assemblies in Northern Ireland, and Wales are not sovereign bodies and could, theoretically, be abolished by the UK parliament.
Religion: The Treaty of Union that led to the formation of the United Kingdom ensured that there would be a Protestant succession as well as a link between Church and state that still remains. Christianity is the largest religion, followed by Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and then Judaism in terms of number of adherents.
Currency: Pound sterling
The flag: The flag of the United Kingdom is the Union Flag (also referred to as the Union Jack). It was first created in 1606 by the superimposition of the Flag of England on the Flag of Scotland and updated in 1801 with the addition of Saint Patrick's Flag. Wales is not represented in the Union Flag as Wales had been conquered and annexed to England prior to the formation of the United Kingdom. However, the possibility of redesigning the Union Flag to include representation of Wales has not been completely ruled out. The national anthem of the United Kingdom is "God Save the King", with "King" replaced with "Queen" in the lyrics whenever the monarch is a woman.
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 United Kingdom of Great Britain, which shared a single constitutional monarch and a single parliament at Westminster. Prior to this, the kingdoms of England and Scotland had been separate states, though in personal union following the Union of the Crowns in 1603, with political, administrative and cultural institutions including representative governance, law systems, and distinguished contributions to the arts and sciences, upon which the United Kingdom was to be built. A further Act of Union in 1800 added the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
The early years of the United Kingdom were marked by Jacobite risings which ended with defeat at Culloden in 1746. Later, victory in the Seven Years' War, in 1763, led to the dominance of the British Empire which was 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 1922 and following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to become the Irish Free State, a dominion of the British Empire but a day later, Northern Ireland seceded from the Free State and rejoined the United Kingdom. As a result, in 1927 the United Kingdom changed its formal title to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, usually shortened to the "United Kingdom", the "UK" or "Britain", but the Monarch remained "By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King/Queen, Defender of the Faith" until 1953.
Following World War II, in which the UK was an allied power, most of the territories of the British Empire became independent. Many went on to join the Commonwealth of Nations, a free association of independent states. Some have retained the British monarch as their head of state to become independent Commonwealth realms. In its capacity as a great power, and as a leading member of the United Nations, European Union and NATO, the United Kingdom remains a strong economic, cultural, military and political influence in the 21st century.
TERESA PEÑA DOMÍNGUEZ