The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
(commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK, or Britain) is a
sovereign state located off the northwestern coast of continental
Europe. It is an island nation, spanning 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[note 8] with another sovereign state, sharing it
with 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 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 of varying powers
in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, the capitals of Northern
Ireland, Wales and Scotland respectively. The UK has 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