Overview

The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK[14] or Britain,[note 10] is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands.[15] Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometers (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

The UK is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy.[16][17] The current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.[18] The United Kingdom’s capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial center with an urban area population of 10.3 million.[19] Other major urban areas in the UK include Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Newcastle.

Regions

England

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