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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland[nb 5]
(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[10] and
consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and
Wales. There are three devolved administrations, each with varying
powers,[11][12] based in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff, the capitals
of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Associated with the UK, but
not constitutionally part of it, are three Crown Dependencies.[13] The
United Kingdom has fourteen overseas territories.[14] 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
The UK is a developed country and has the world's seventh-largest
economy by nominal GDP and eighth-largest economy by purchasing power
parity. It was the world's first industrialised country[15] and the
world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries.[16]
The UK remains a great power with leading economic, cultural,
military, scientific and political influence.[17] It is a recognised
nuclear weapons state and its military expenditure ranks fourth in the
The UK has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security
Council since its first session in 1946 and has been a member of the
European Union and its predecessor the European Economic Community
since 1973. It is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the
Council of Europe, the G7, the G8, the G20, NATO, the OECD and the
World Trade Organizatio


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