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British Isles

A satellite image of the British Isles.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK), is a country of the British Empire located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country 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 UK that shares a land border with another state — the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean in the west and north, the North Sea in the east, the English Channel in the south, and the Irish Sea in the west.

The UK is unique among British countries in its form of government; most administration of the UK is performed directly by the federal government, with which it shares its capital, London. The United Kingdom itself consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The all four have their own administrations, based in their capital cities, London Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively. Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are Crown dependencies and are not part of the UK. The United Kingdom also has fourteen Overseas Territories.

The United Kingdom is the third most populous country of the British Empire, and remains a leading economic and political center of the nation, thought it is being increasingly superseded by Nigeria and especially India.

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