|The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom or the UK or Britain, or even England, is a country in northwestern Europe that comprises England, Wales, Scotland, and the province of Northern Ireland, which occupies the northeastern part of the island of Ireland. On the island of Ireland, there is the country’s only land border, the one with the Republic of Ireland.
The UK is separated from continental Europe by the English Channel. The kingdom is situated on an archipelago known as the British Isles with the two main islands Great Britain and Ireland, plus the surrounding island groups of the Hebrides, the Shetlands, the Orkneys, the Isle of Man, and the Isle of Wight. The island group is located southeast of Iceland, west of Norway and Denmark, between the North Sea in the east and the North Atlantic Ocean in the west. The UK shares maritime borders with Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the Faroe Islands (Denmark).
With an area of 242,900 km², the United Kingdom is not quite half the size of Spain, or slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Oregon.
The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the world’s longest-serving current head of state. The United Kingdom’s capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major cities include Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool.
The United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution. The nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation.
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