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The United Kingdom

The UK is a sovereign state being the largest island state in Europe. It is ultimately governed by a parliamentary system with the seat of government in London (the Palace of Westminster). Scotland has a devolved parliament in Edinburgh which allows it certain powers allowing many internal liberties such as having its own police force, schooling system and national bank. Northern Ireland and Wales both have devolved assemblies. The Irish Republic was once part of the union when, in 1922, it became a free state. In 1949 the Republic was called out and Ireland became independant of the UK.


The UK is divided into four partial states or the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands fall under the sovereignty of The Crown but remaining independant of this political union (though the UK government manages their foreign affairs and defence and the UK Parliament has the authority to legislate on their behalf). Each country within the union is split into counties that are governed by a county council.

The present head of state or constitutional monarch is Elizabeth II who is also Queen of 15 Commonwealth realm countries throughout the world which are the remnants of the British Empire. The monarchy of today has no political powers. These were reduced considerably by the Magna Carta in 1215 and finally limited by the Bill of Rights of 1689.

The UK still has possession of and rules over 14 overseas territories including Bermuda, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar:

Strangely enough the UK does not have an official language but obviously English is by far predominant. Apart from this there are Gaelic languages that are also recognised. Hence you may find other names for this state as follows:

• Unitit Kinrick o Great Breetain an Northren Ireland (Scottish)
• Teyrnas Unedig Prydain Fawr a Gogledd Iwerddon (Welsh)
• An Rìoghachd Aonaichte na Breatainn Mhòr agus Eirinn a Tuath (Scottish Gaelic)
• Ríocht Aontaithe na Breataine Móire agus Thuaisceart Éireann (Irish)
• An Rywvaneth Unys a Vreten Veur hag Iwerdhon Glédh (Cornish)

The British Isles
Copyright: Johnny Glover

The British Isles is a term used to signify the set of islands consisting of Great Britain, Ireland, the Hebridies, the Shetland Islands, the Orkneys, the Isle of Man, the Scilly Isles, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.

The Channel Islands are just off the Normandy coast of France. The largest of these are Guernsey and Jersey together with Alderney, not to mention the much smaller islands of Sark and Herm all of which are inhabited. There are three other small islands that are inhabited and six others that are not. Then we have the Chaucey islands that are generally referrred to as the French Channel Islands and are not part of the British Isles.

Although Ireland is politically divided into the Irish Republic (Eire) in the south and Northern Ireland the geographical situation is generally accepted as being part of the British Isles.

The British Isles is not to be confused with the term British Islands which excludes the Republic of Ireland.



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