The political union of four nations, namely England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (usually shortened to just the United Kingdom or simply the UK). Wales, England and Scotland collectively make up the island of Great Britain, lying near the northwestern coast of continental Europe. Northern Ireland, on the other hand, is split into two parts namely Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is an independent nation lying towards the south. The United Kingdom also controls other overseas areas like Gibraltar and Bermuda.
The most recent union to have occurred in the last 300 years has been that of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Earlier, England and Scotland were two separate countries that had their own political systems and monarchs. Wales, on the other hand, was known as a principality and came under the control of England.
As time passed, different acts were made and passed for the union to bring England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland together. Ireland gained independence from the union in 1922. The other three namely England, Wales and Scotland remained a part of the union like we see today.
The British Empire was once a force to reckon with. It included territorial control far beyond the boundaries of the European Continent. It was ruling countries as far as India, South America, Africa and even Canada. Although the glory days of colonial rule are now a distant dream, there has been a continuous decline in the British Empire and the influence that the United Kingdom once had on the world. Still, the UK is a powerful economic and political giant and is a member of the G8. It is also the fifth largest economy in the world and the second biggest European economy.
The United Kingdom’s colonial past means that today it is subjected to international influence and has an influx of people from all around the world. Together, they create a diverse society. Please visit UK on Wikipedia to read more about the history of the United Kingdom.