The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (usually shortened to the United Kingdom, Britain, or the UK) is a country and sovereign state occupying most of the British Isles off the northwest coast of mainland Europe. Its territory and population are primarily situated on the island of Great Britain, but it also shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland on the island of Ireland. The United Kingdom is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and its ancillary bodies of water- the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, and the Irish Sea.
The United Kingdom is a political union made up of four constituent areas: the three countries of Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Northern Ireland. It is incorrect to refer to England as the United Kingdom or Great Britain, or vice versa, because of this. The United Kingdom also has several overseas territories, including Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, while the Crown has a relationship with the dependencies of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. A constitutional monarchy, the United Kingdom has close relationships with fifteen other Commonwealth Realms that share the same monarch. Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
A member of the G8, the United Kingdom has a highly industrialised economy with the fifth-largest gross domestic product in the world. It is the third most populous state in the European Union and is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United Nations (UN) where it holds a permanent seat on the Security Council. The UK is also one of the world's major nuclear powers. Having previously been the hub of the world's most geographically extensive empire, it retains an important and influential role in international politics, helped by the dominance of the English language in global affairs and its close ties with the United States of America.
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