United Kindom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country in western Europe. 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. 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 its east, the English Channel to its south and the Celtic Sea to its south-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 kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world and the 11th-largest in Europe. It is also the 21st-most populous country, with an estimated 65.1 million inhabitants. Together, this makes it the fourth-most densely populated country in the European Union (EU).

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 6 February 1952. The capital of the United Kingdom and its largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million, the fourth-largest in Europe and second-largest in the European Union. Other major urban areas in the United Kingdom include the conurbations centred on Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester. The United Kingdom consists of four countries—England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The last three have devolved administrations, each with varying powers, based in their capitals, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively. The nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the United Kingdom, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation.

The United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. The UK is considered to have a high-income economy and is categorised as very high in the Human Development Index, ranking 16th in the world. It was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power with considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence internationally. It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and is seventh in military expenditure in the world. The UK has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946. It has been a leading member state of the EU and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), since 1973. However, on 23 June 2016, a national referendum on the UK's membership of the EU resulted in a decision to leave, and its exit from the EU is currently being negotiated. The UK is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7 finance ministers, the G7 forum, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

During the 18th century, Britain was involved in the Atlantic slave trade. British ships transported an estimated two million slaves from Africa to the West Indies before banning the trade in 1807, banning slavery in 1833, and taking a leading role in the movement to abolish slavery worldwide by pressing other nations to end their trade with a series of treaties, and then formed the world's oldest international human rights organisation, Anti-Slavery International, in London in 1839. The term "United Kingdom" became official in 1801 when the parliaments of Britain and Ireland each passed an Act of Union, uniting the two kingdoms and creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

The Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats (formerly as the Liberal Party) have, in modern times, been considered the UK's three major political parties, representing the British traditions of conservatism, socialism and social liberalism, respectively. However, at the 2015 general election, The UK Independence Party (UKIP) came third in terms of votes with 12.6%, but only won one seat and the Scottish National Party became the third-largest party by number of seats won, ahead of the Liberal Democrats. Most of the remaining seats were won by parties that contest elections only in one part of the UK: Plaid Cymru (Wales only); and the Democratic Unionist Party, Ulster Unionist Party, Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin (Northern Ireland only). In accordance with party policy, no elected Sinn Féin members of parliament have ever attended the House of Commons to speak on behalf of their constituents because of the requirement to take an oath of allegiance to the monarch.

As a direct result of the Great Recession between 2010 and the third quarter of 2012 wages in the UK fell by 3.2%, but by 2015 real wages were growing by 3%, having grown faster than inflation since 2014. Since the 1980s, UK economic inequality, like Canada, Australia and the United States has grown faster than in other developed countries. These negative economic pressures, along with social issues caused by the refugee crisis and the general influx of immigrants in the country has caused a significant growth in right-wing nationalist ideologies and the subsequent success of parties such as UKIP along with the general increase of hate speech and hate crime cases.

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