The European Union is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located in Europe. It has an area of an estimated population of about 513 million; the EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency; the EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community, established by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome.
The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, West Germany. The Communities and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit; the latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. While no member state has left the EU or its antecedent organisations, the United Kingdom signified the intention to leave after a membership referendum in June 2016 and is negotiating its withdrawal. Covering 7.3% of the world population, the EU in 2017 generated a nominal gross domestic product of 19.670 trillion US dollars, constituting 24.6% of global nominal GDP. Additionally, all 28 EU countries have a high Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Programme. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence.
The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. Because of its global influence, the European Union has been described as an emerging superpower. During the centuries following the fall of Rome in 476, several European States viewed themselves as translatio imperii of the defunct Roman Empire: the Frankish Empire and the Holy Roman Empire were thereby attempts to resurrect Rome in the West; this political philosophy of a supra-national rule over the continent, similar to the example of the ancient Roman Empire, resulted in the early Middle Ages in the concept of a renovatio imperii, either in the forms of the Reichsidee or the religiously inspired Imperium Christianum. Medieval Christendom and the political power of the Papacy are cited as conducive to European integration and unity. In the oriental parts of the continent, the Russian Tsardom, the Empire, declared Moscow to be Third Rome and inheritor of the Eastern tradition after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
The gap between Greek East and Latin West had been widened by the political scission of the Roman Empire in the 4th century and the Great Schism of 1054. Pan-European political thought emerged during the 19th century, inspired by the liberal ideas of the French and American Revolutions after the demise of Napoléon's Empire. In the decades following the outcomes of the Congress of Vienna, ideals of European unity flourished across the continent in the writings of Wojciech Jastrzębowski, Giuseppe Mazzini or Theodore de Korwin Szymanowski; the term United States of Europe was used at that time by Victor Hugo during a speech at the International Peace Congress held in Paris in 1849: A day will come when all nations on our continent will form a European brotherhood... A day will come when we shall see... the United States of America and the United States of Europe face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas. During the interwar period, the consciousness that national markets in Europe were interdependent though confrontational, along with the observation of a larger and growing US market on the other side of the ocean, nourished the urge for the economic integration of the continent.
In 1920, advocating the creation of a European economic union, British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote that "a Free Trade Union should be established... to impose no protectionist tariffs whatever against the produce of other members of the Union." During the same decade, Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, one of the first to imagine of a modern political union of Europe, founded the Pan-Europa Movement. His ideas influenced his contemporaries, among which Prime Minister of France Aristide Briand. In 1929, the latter gave a speech in favour of a European Union before the assembly of the League of Nations, precursor of the United Nations. In a radio address in March 1943, with war still raging, Britain's leader Sir Winston Churchill spoke warmly of "restoring the true greatness of Europe" once victory had been achieved, mused on the post-war creation of a "Council of Europe" which would bring the European nations together to build peace. After World War II, European integration was seen as an antidote to the extreme nationalism which had devastated the continent.
In a speech delivered on 19
English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures. England's most authoritative law is statutory legislation, which comprises Acts of Parliament, regulations and by-laws. In the absence of any statutory law, the common law with its principle of stare decisis forms the residual source of law, based on judicial decisions and usage. Common law is made by sitting judges who apply both statutory law and established principles which are derived from the reasoning from earlier decisions. Equity is the other historic source of judge-made law. Common law can be repealed by Parliament. Not being a civil law system, English law has no comprehensive codification. However, most of its criminal law has been codified from its common law origins, in the interests both of certainty and of ease of prosecution. For the time being, murder remains a common law crime rather than a statutory offence. Although Scotland and Northern Ireland form part of the United Kingdom and share Westminster as a primary legislature, they have separate legal systems outside of English Law.
International treaties such as the European Union's Treaty of Rome or the Hague-Visby Rules have effect in English law only when adopted and ratified by Act of Parliament. Adopted treaties may be subsequently denounced by executive action.. Unless the denouncement or withdraw would affect rights enacted by parliament. In this case executive action cannot be used due to the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty; this principle was established in the case of Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in 2017. Criminal law is the law of punishment whereby the Crown prosecutes the accused. Civil law is concerned with tort, families, companies and so on. Civil law courts operate to provide a party who has an enforceable claim with a remedy such as damages or a declaration. In this context, civil law is the system of codified law, prevalent in Europe. Civil law is founded on the ideas of Roman Law. By contrast, English law is the archetypal common law jurisdiction, built upon case law.
In this context, common law means the judge-made law of the King's Bench. Equity is concerned with trusts and equitable remedies. Equity operates in accordance with the principles known as the "maxims of equity"; the reforming Judicature Acts of the 1880s amalgamated the courts into one Supreme Court of Judicature, directed to administer both law and equity. The neo-gothic Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, were built shortly afterwards to celebrate these reforms. Public Law is the law governing relationships between the state. Private law encompasses relationships between other private entities. A remedy is "the means given by law for the recovery of a right, or of compensation for its infringement". Most remedies are available only from the court. Most civil actions claiming damages in the High Court were commenced by obtaining a writ issued in the Queen's name. After 1979, writs have required the parties to appear, writs are no longer issued in the name of the Crown. Now, after the Woolf Reforms of 1999 all civil actions other than those connected with insolvency, are commenced by the completion of a Claim Form as opposed to a Writ, Originating Application, or Summons.
In England, there is a hierarchy of sources, as follows: Legislation The case law rules of common law and equity, derived from precedent decisions Parliamentary conventions General Customs Books of authority Primary legislation in the UK may take the following forms: Acts of Parliament Acts of the Scottish Parliament Acts and Measures of the National Assembly for Wales Statutory Rules of the Northern Ireland AssemblyOrders in Council are a sui generis category of legislation. Secondary legislation in England includes: Statutory Instruments and Ministerial Orders Bye-laws of metropolitan boroughs, county councils, town councilsStatutes are cited in this fashion: "Short Title Year", e.g. Theft Act 1968; this became the usual way to refer to Acts from 1840 onwards. For example, the Pleading in English Act 1362 was referred to as 36 Edw. III c. 15, meaning "36th year of the reign of Edward III, chapter 15".. Common law is a term with historical origins in the legal system of England, it denotes, in the first place, the judge-made law that developed from the early Middle Ages as described in a work published at the end of the 19th century, The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, in which Pollock and Maitland expanded the work of Coke and Blackstone.
The law developed in England's Court of Common Pleas and other common law courts, which became the law of the colonies settled under the crown of England or of the United Kingdom, in North America and elsewhere.
Politics of Wales
Politics in Wales forms a distinctive polity in the wider politics of the United Kingdom, with Wales as one of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. Constitutionally, the United Kingdom is de jure a unitary state with one sovereign parliament and government. However, under a system of devolution adopted in the late 1990s three of the four countries of the United Kingdom, Wales and Northern Ireland, voted for limited self-government, subject to the ability of the UK Parliament in Westminster, nominally at will, to amend, broaden or abolish the national governmental systems; as such the National Assembly for Wales is not de jure sovereign. Executive power in the United Kingdom is vested in the Queen-in-Council, while legislative power is vested in the Queen-in-Parliament; the Government of Wales Act 1998 established devolution in Wales, certain executive and legislative powers have been constitutionally delegated to the National Assembly for Wales. The scope of these powers was further widened by the Government of Wales Act 2006.
Since 1999 most areas of domestic policy are decided within Wales via the National Assembly and the Welsh Government. Judicially, Wales remains within the jurisdiction of Wales. In 2007 the National Assembly gained the power to enact Wales-specific Measures, following the Welsh devolution referendum, 2011, the National Assembly was given the power to create Acts. Wales, together with Cheshire, used to come under the jurisdiction of the Court of Great Session, therefore was not within the English circuit court system, yet it has not been its own distinct jurisdiction since the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, at which point Welsh Law was replaced by English Law. Before 1998, there was no separate government in Wales. Executive authority rested in the hands of the HM Government, with substantial authority within the Welsh Office since 1965. Legislative power rested within the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Judicial power has always been with the Courts of England and Wales, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
After the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, Wales was treated in legal terms as part of England. The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 stated that all laws applying to England would be applicable to Wales, unless the body of the law explicitly stated otherwise. However, during the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century the notion of a distinctive Welsh polity gained credence. In 1881 the Welsh Sunday Closing Act was passed, the first such legislation concerned with Wales; the Central Welsh Board was established in 1896 to inspect the grammar schools set up under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act 1889, a separate Welsh Department of the Board of Education was formed in 1907. The Agricultural Council for Wales was set up in 1912, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had its own Welsh Office from 1919. Despite the failure of popular political movements such as Cymru Fydd, a number of institutions, such as the National Eisteddfod, the University of Wales, the National Library of Wales and the Welsh Guards were created.
The campaign for disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Wales, achieved by the passage of the Welsh Church Act 1914, was significant in the development of Welsh political consciousness. Without a popular base, the issue of home rule did not feature as an issue in subsequent General Elections and was eclipsed by the depression. By August 1925 unemployment in Wales rose to 28.5%, in contrast to the economic boom in the early 1920s, rendering constitutional debate an exotic subject. In the same year Plaid Cymru was formed with the goal of securing a Welsh-speaking Wales. Following the Second World War the Labour Government of Clement Attlee established the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire, an unelected assembly of 27 with the brief of advising the UK government on matters of Welsh interest. By that time, most UK government departments had set up their own offices in Wales; the Labour Party had partly reappraised its view to devolution, establishing in 1947 the Welsh Regional Council of Labour from the constituent parts of the party in Wales and as part of a move to plan the economy on an all-Wales basis.
However, resistance from other elements of the party meant that the machinery of government was not reformed until much later. The post of Minister of Welsh Affairs was first established in 1951, but was at first held by the UK Home Secretary. Further incremental changes took place, including the establishment of a Digest of Welsh Statistics in 1954, the designation of Cardiff as Wales's capital city in 1955. However, further reforms were catalysed as a result of the controversy surrounding the flooding of Capel Celyn in 1956. Despite unanimous Welsh political opposition the scheme had been approved, a fact that seemed to underline Plaid Cymru's argument that the Welsh national community was powerless. Welsh nationalism experienced a modest increase in support, with Plaid Cymru's share of the vote increasing from 0.3% in 1951 to 5.2% by 1959 throughout Wales. In 1964 the incoming Labour Government of Harold Wilson created the Welsh Office under a Secretary of State for Wales, with its powers augmented to include health and education in 1968, 1969 and 1970 respectively.
The creation of administration devolution defined the territorial governance of modern Wales. Labour's incremental embrace of a distinctive Welsh polity was arguably catalysed in 1966 when
Wales is a country, part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Bristol Channel to the south, it had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2. Wales has over 1,680 miles of coastline and is mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit; the country has a changeable, maritime climate. Welsh national identity emerged among the Britons after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations. Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's death in 1282 marked the completion of Edward I of England's conquest of Wales, though Owain Glyndŵr restored independence to Wales in the early 15th century; the whole of Wales was annexed by England and incorporated within the English legal system under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century. Welsh liberalism, exemplified in the early 20th century by Lloyd George, was displaced by the growth of socialism and the Labour Party.
Welsh national feeling grew over the century. Established under the Government of Wales Act 1998, the National Assembly for Wales holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, development of the mining and metallurgical industries transformed the country from an agricultural society into an industrial nation. Two-thirds of the population live in South Wales, including Cardiff, Swansea and the nearby valleys. Now that the country's traditional extractive and heavy industries have gone or are in decline, Wales' economy depends on the public sector and service industries and tourism. Although Wales shares its political and social history with the rest of Great Britain, a majority of the population in most areas speaks English as a first language, the country has retained a distinct cultural identity and is bilingual. Over 560,000 Welsh language speakers live in Wales, the language is spoken by a majority of the population in parts of the north and west.
From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the "land of song", in part due to the eisteddfod tradition. At many international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Wales has its own national teams, though at the Olympic Games, Welsh athletes compete as part of a Great Britain team. Rugby union is seen as an expression of national consciousness; the English words "Wales" and "Welsh" derive from the same Germanic root, itself derived from the name of the Gaulish people known to the Romans as Volcae and which came to refer indiscriminately to all non-Germanic peoples. The Old English-speaking Anglo-Saxons came to use the term Wælisc when referring to the Britons in particular, Wēalas when referring to their lands; the modern names for some Continental European lands and peoples have a similar etymology. In Britain, the words were not restricted to modern Wales or to the Welsh but were used to refer to anything that the Anglo-Saxons associated with the Britons, including other non-Germanic territories in Britain and places in Anglo-Saxon territory associated with Britons, as well as items associated with non-Germanic Europeans, such as the walnut.
The modern Welsh name for themselves is Cymry, Cymru is the Welsh name for Wales. These words are descended from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning "fellow-countrymen"; the use of the word Cymry as a self-designation derives from the location in the post-Roman Era of the Welsh people in modern Wales as well as in northern England and southern Scotland. It emphasised that the Welsh in modern Wales and in the Hen Ogledd were one people, different from other peoples. In particular, the term was not applied to the Cornish or the Breton peoples, who are of similar heritage and language to the Welsh; the word came into use as a self-description before the 7th century. It is attested in a praise poem to Cadwallon ap Cadfan c. 633. In Welsh literature, the word Cymry was used throughout the Middle Ages to describe the Welsh, though the older, more generic term Brythoniaid continued to be used to describe any of the Britonnic peoples and was the more common literary term until c. 1200. Thereafter Cymry prevailed as a reference to the Welsh.
Until c. 1560 the word was spelt Kymry or Cymry, regardless of whether it referred to the people or their homeland. The Latinised forms of these names, Cambrian and Cambria, survive as lesser-used alternative names for Wales and the Welsh people. Examples include the Cambrian Mountains, the newspaper Cambrian News, the organisations Cambrian Airways, Cambrian Railways, Cambrian Archaeological Association and the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art. Outside Wales, a related form survives as the name Cumbria in North West England, once a part of Yr Hen Ogledd; the Cumbric language, thought to
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, domestically as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, the House of Commons; the two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London. The House of Lords includes two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual, consisting of the most senior bishops of the Church of England, the Lords Temporal, consisting of life peers, appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister, of 92 hereditary peers, sitting either by virtue of holding a royal office, or by being elected by their fellow hereditary peers.
Prior to the opening of the Supreme Court in October 2009, the House of Lords performed a judicial role through the Law Lords. The House of Commons is an elected chamber with elections to 650 single member constituencies held at least every five years under the first-past-the-post system; the two Houses meet in separate chambers in the Palace of Westminster in London. By constitutional convention, all government ministers, including the Prime Minister, are members of the House of Commons or, less the House of Lords and are thereby accountable to the respective branches of the legislature. Most cabinet ministers are from the Commons, whilst junior ministers can be from either House. However, the Leader of the House of Lords must be a peer; the Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Treaty of Union by Acts of Union passed by the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland, both Acts of Union stating, "That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament to be styled The Parliament of Great Britain".
At the start of the 19th century, Parliament was further enlarged by Acts of Union ratified by the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland that abolished the latter and added 100 Irish MPs and 32 Lords to the former to create the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 formally amended the name to the "Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", five years after the secession of the Irish Free State in 1922. With the global expansion of the British Empire, the UK Parliament has shaped the political systems of many countries as ex-colonies and so it has been called the "Mother of Parliaments". However, John Bright – who coined the epithet – used it in reference to the political culture of "England" rather than just the parliamentary system. In theory, the UK's supreme legislative power is vested in the Crown-in-Parliament. However, the Crown acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and the powers of the House of Lords are limited to only delaying legislation.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was created on 1 January 1801, by the merger of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800. The principle of ministerial responsibility to the lower House did not develop until the 19th century—the House of Lords was superior to the House of Commons both in theory and in practice. Members of the House of Commons were elected in an antiquated electoral system, under which constituencies of vastly different sizes existed. Thus, the borough of Old Sarum, with seven voters, could elect two members, as could the borough of Dunwich, which had completely disappeared into the sea due to land erosion. Many small constituencies, known as pocket or rotten boroughs, were controlled by members of the House of Lords, who could ensure the election of their relatives or supporters. During the reforms of the 19th century, beginning with the Reform Act 1832, the electoral system for the House of Commons was progressively regularised.
No longer dependent on the Lords for their seats, MPs grew more assertive. The supremacy of the British House of Commons was reaffirmed in the early 20th century. In 1909, the Commons passed the so-called "People's Budget", which made numerous changes to the taxation system which were detrimental to wealthy landowners; the House of Lords, which consisted of powerful landowners, rejected the Budget. On the basis of the Budget's popularity and the Lords' consequent unpopularity, the Liberal Party narrowly won two general elections in 1910. Using the result as a mandate, the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith, introduced the Parliament Bill, which sought to restrict the powers of the House of Lords; when the Lords refused to pass the bill, Asquith countered with a promise extracted from the King in secret before the second general election of 1910 and requested the creation of several hundred Liberal peers, so as to erase the Conservative majority in the House of Lords. In the face of such a threat, the House of Lords narrowly passed the bill.
The Parliament Act 1911, as it became, prevented the Lords from blocking a money bill, allowed them to delay any other bill for a maximum of three sessions, after which it could become law over their objections. However, regardless of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, t
Counsel General for Wales
The Counsel General for Wales is the Welsh Government's Law Officer, which means the Government's chief legal adviser and representative in the courts. In addition to these "lawyer" roles the Counsel General works to uphold the rule of law and integrity of the legal community in Wales, has a number of important specific statutory functions, some of which are to be exercised independently of government and in the public interest; the Counsel General is appointed by the sovereign on the recommendation of the First Minister of Wales. The recommendation of the First Minister to appoint or remove the Counsel General can only be made if approved by the National Assembly for Wales; the Counsel General is a member of the Welsh Government and attends Cabinet meetings at the invitation of the First Minister. Although not a Minister, the Counsel General is bound by the Ministerial Code which makes some specific provision in relation to the role; the Counsel General's statutory responsibilities are found in the Government of Wales Act 2006 Like the Welsh Ministers and the First Minister, the Counsel General may make representations about any matter affecting Wales.
The Counsel General may bring, defend or appear in legal proceedings, in the name of the Counsel General, if he considers it appropriate to do so to promote or protect the public interest. This is a function; the Counsel General may refer a provision of an Assembly Bill to the Supreme Court for a ruling on whether it is within the Assembly's legislative competence, may respond where any such reference is made by another Law Officer. This is another function; the Counsel General can require devolution issues to be referred to the Supreme Court for a decision. Like the Welsh Ministers, the First Minister and Assembly Members, the Counsel General can introduce a Bill into the Assembly; the Counsel General is accountable to the Assembly for the exercise of his independent statutory functions. He answers questions in the Assembly once every four weeks. Providing legal advice to the Welsh Government in and representing it in legal proceedings; the Counsel General may play a role in the development of Welsh Government policy on legal matters.
For example, he led with the First Minister in consulting for the public on a separate Welsh legal jurisdiction and preparing the Welsh Government's submissions to the Silk Commission on this issue. From 1998 to October 2003, Winston Roddick CB QC fulfilled the role of chief legal adviser to the National Assembly for Wales; this was, therefore non-statutory and non-governmental role. Mr Roddick is, however, to be credited with suggesting the title "Counsel General", as "Counsel General" in that form he had responsibility for advising the National Assembly on all legal matters. From the coming into force of the 2006 Act a Welsh Assembly Government was created to provide a conventional parliamentary division between legislature and executive, the statutory and governmental position of Counsel General was created
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K