The United Kingdom is a state made up of the historic countries of England, Wales and Scotland, as well as Northern Ireland. It is known as the home of both modern parliamentary democracy and the Industrial Revolution.
Two world wars and the end of empire diminished its role in the 20th century, and the 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union has raised significant questions about the country's global role.
Nonetheless, the United Kingdom remains an economic and military power with great political and cultural influence around the world.
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United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
• Population 62.8 million
• Area 242,514 sq km (93,638 sq miles)
• Major language English
• Major religion Christianity
• Life expectancy 78 years (men), 82 years (women)
• Currency pound sterling
UN, World Bank
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1952 upon the death of her father, George VI.
In September 2015, she became Britain's longest-reigning monarch, surpassing the record of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.
She is also head of state of 16 independent countries including Canada and Australia.
As a constitutional monarch, her role in the legislative process is largely ceremonial.
Prime minister: Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson became prime minister in July 2019 after he beat Jeremy Hunt in the race to become leader of the Conservative Party.
He took over from the previous prime minister, Theresa May, who stood down as Conservative Party leader in June 2019 after failing to get Parliament to agree a way forward on Brexit.
Mr Johnson went on to win a convincing majority at a snap general election in December 2019, paving the way for Britain to leave the European Union in 2020.
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