The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland formed its present constitutional boundaries back in 1922. Prior to this date, the whole of Ireland came under the administration of the country. Today, the country includes four distinct countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus some other territories (e.g. Jersey, Guernsey, The Isle of Man).
Britain has dominated much of the world’s history and only one hundred years ago, the Empire was the most powerful force around the planet. Very few parts of the world have been untouched by former British explorers and even today, the United Kingdom has more overseas dependencies that any other country in the world.
The modern day United Kingdom is a rather unsettled society. It would never be fair to state that all four of the main states exist in complete harmony together. Over the recent decades more and more legislative powers have been devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and this has fundamentally been by way of an attempt to keep the country together as it is. This has often been at the expense of the largest country of the UK - England.
The head of state of the United Kingdom is H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. The same monarch who is also the head of state for the entire Commonwealth. Support for the monarch has been declining within the country and this reached an all time low after the death of the much loved Princess of Wales (Lady Diana Spencer). The UK was shocked at the way in which the Royal Family handled this situation and the relationship has never been quite the same since.
In terms of GDP, the United Kingdom is currently ranked as the 4th richest country in the world. However, this position is very precarious and in danger of being toppled by the ‘tiger economies’ in the far east. Nevertheless, citizens of the UK still enjoy a relatively high standard of living. This does come at a high price, however, in terms of the level of taxes and overall prices for goods in the country.
The UK joined the European Community in 1973 and constitutionally this has had a massive impact on the freedom of citizens, politicians and the legal system alike. Upon joining, the UK conceded a lot of powers to Brussels and even nearly forty years later, this still leads to a number of clashes with European counterparts. The modern EU (as it is now known) is far less popular in the UK than it is in other mainland European countries. This has a lot to do with why the UK has refused to accept the single European currency - the Euro.
Many people just think of places like London and the other popular tourist destinations when they think of the United Kingdom. This definitely does not paint the full picture of this immensely diverse nation. From the mountains and wilderness of the Highlands of Scotland, to the rolling hills of Devon, there is so much in between to explore in these fascinating islands.