The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom - Great Britain: What is the difference?
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (usually shortened to the United Kingdom, the UK, or Britain) is a political union made up of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (the last three also have their own Parliament or Assembly).
The United Kingdom also has several overseas territories, including Bermuda, Gibraltar, Montserrat and Saint Helena among others. The dependencies of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, formally possessions of the Crown, form a federacy with the United Kingdom collectively known as the British Islands. A constitutional monarchy, the United Kingdom is a Commonwealth Realm, sharing the same person — Queen Elizabeth II — as monarch and head of state.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the latest of several unions formed over the last 300 years. The Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England had existed as separate states with their own monarchs and political structures since the 9th century. The once independent Principality of Wales fell under the control of English monarchs from the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, becoming itself part of the Kingdom of England by the Laws in Wales Act 1535. With the Act of Union 1707, the independent states of England (including Wales) and Scotland, having been in personal union since 1603 (King James I), agreed to a political union as the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The Act of Union 1800 united the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland, which had been gradually brought under English control between 1541 and 1691, to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Independence for the Republic of Ireland in 1922 followed the partition of the island of Ireland two years previously, with six of the nine counties of the province of Ulster remaining within the UK, which then changed to the current name in 1927.
(For this text and for more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom)
Some general information about Great Britain and the United Kingdom:
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