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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, also called Britain, the United Kingdom, or the UK, is a sovereign nation in western Europe off the northwestern coast of the mainland. The United Kingdom consists of four countries: those on the island of Great Britain, which is to say, England, Scotland, and Wales, and as Northern Ireland, which is the northeastern section of the island of Ireland. There are also numerous other small islands.

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Its capital is London, and the official language of the country is English.

The political unification of United Kingdom into one sovereign state took place on May 1, 1707 when the Kingdom of England, which included Wales, and the Kingdom of Scotland became the Kingdom of Great Britain, per agreement called the Treaty of Union. This treaty allowed both kingdoms to become one kingdom with a merged parliament.

The Acts of Union of 1800 unified the existing UK with the Kingdom of Ireland, creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was around this time that the Industrial Revolution began taking shape. The political power slowly moved away from the landowning classes to the new captains of industry, spawning the new Liberal party which espoused the idea of free trade. In 1832, the Great Reform Act, which began to transfer political power from the aristocracy to the working class, was passed by Parliament.

Once France was defeated after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Britain was positioned as the naval and imperial power of the 19th century. This ushered in an era of peace among the Great Powers which lasted from 1815 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

They fought along side the United States, Russia, and France in World War I, and in the end, they ended up with more colonies, which had been Ottoman and German.

In the meantime, the Irish Home Rule movement, which had begun in 1780, led to the 1921 partition of the island of Ireland into Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. Both remained as part of the United Kingdom, at least for a while. But after the Irish War of Independence, the Anglo-Irish Treaty mandated that the southern region became the Irish Free State, a dominion of the Commonwealth of Nations, while Northern Ireland remained part of the UK. In 1927, the name of the United Kingdom was officially changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland."

During the first few months of the Free State, the Irish Civil War was fought between the National Army of Ireland which fought in favor of the Free State and the anti-Treaty IRA, which refused to recognize the state. The IRA surrendered in 1923, though Sinn Féin, their political party, refused to participate in the government of the United Kingdom.

In 1931, the United Kingdom relinquished its control over the Free State of Ireland and other dominions, making them fully sovereign nations.

The Great Depression which began in the United States hit the United Kingdom along with the rest of the world in 1930. The north of England was particularly hard-hit, with Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales not far behind. Their world trade was suddenly cut in half throughout the first four years of the depression, and full-time employment reached 70% in some parts of the nation with countless others having to trade their full-time jobs in for part-time work.

With Hitler and Mussolini posing an imminent threat, the League of Nations was unable to resolve any of the threats of war. Britain adopted a policy of appeasement. In 1938, both the United Kingdom and France participated in the last act of appeasement when they signed on o the Munich Agreement which gave Nazi Germany much of Czechoslovakia, an act which Czechoslovakia has seen as a deep betrayal ever since. Slovaks and Czechs still call that agreement the "Munich Betrayal." When Hitler made moves to annex Poland, it became obvious that appeasement would not work. In September of 1939 after Hitler did invade Poland, King George VI declared war on Germany.

The United Kingdom was on the winning side of World War II, but it was not able to maintain the British Empire, which led to decolonization. By 1970, it had withdrawn from most of its former colonies. While the first few years after the war were difficult, the 1950s were much more prosperous. The UK had embarked on modernizing, and during this time, the first motorways in the country were finished. The unemployment rate was small, and the standard of living rose dramatically.

Britain joined the European Union in 1973, and in 2016, a national referendum, which is commonly called "Brexit," resulted in a vote to leave the EU. That action is scheduled to be executed on Marcy 29, 2019.


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