South Korea the Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and lying to the east of the Asian mainland. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo, one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia, under Gwanggaeto the Great. South Korea has a predominantly mountainous terrain, it comprises an estimated 51.4 million residents distributed over 100,363 km2. Its capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of around 10 million. Archaeology indicates that the Korean Peninsula was inhabited by early humans starting from the Lower Paleolithic period; the history of Korea begins with the foundation of Gojoseon in 2333 BCE by the mythic king Dangun, but no archaeological evidence and writing was found from this period. The Gija Joseon was purportedly founded in 11th century BCE, its existence and role has been controversial in the modern era; the written historical record on Gojoseon was first mentioned in Chinese records in the early 7th century BCE.
Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea under Unified Silla in CE 668, Korea was subsequently ruled by the Goryeo dynasty and the Joseon dynasty. It was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. At the end of World War II, Korea was divided into Soviet and U. S. zones of occupations. A separate election was held in the U. S. zone in 1948 which led to the creation of the Republic of Korea, while the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was established in the Soviet zone. The United Nations at the time passed a resolution declaring the ROK to be the only lawful government in Korea; the Korean War began in June 1950. The war lasted three years and involved the U. S. China, the Soviet Union and several other nations; the border between the two nations remains the most fortified in the world. Under long-time military leader Park Chung-hee, the South Korean economy grew and the country was transformed into a G-20 major economy. Military rule ended in 1987, the country is now a presidential republic consisting of 17 administrative divisions.
South Korea is a developed country and a high-income economy, with a "very high" Human Development Index, ranking 22nd in the world. The country is considered a regional power and is the world's 11th largest economy by nominal GDP and the 12th largest by PPP as of 2010. South Korea is a global leader in the industrial and technological sectors, being the world's 5th largest exporter and 8th largest importer, its export-driven economy focuses production on electronics, ships, machinery and robotics. South Korea is a member of the ASEAN Plus mechanism, the United Nations, Uniting for Consensus, G20, the WTO and OECD and is a founding member of APEC and the East Asia Summit; the name Korea derives from the name Goryeo. The name Goryeo itself was first used by the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo in the 5th century as a shortened form of its name; the 10th-century kingdom of Goryeo succeeded Goguryeo, thus inherited its name, pronounced by the visiting Persian merchants as "Korea". The modern spelling of Korea first appeared in the late 17th century in the travel writings of the Dutch East India Company's Hendrick Hamel.
Despite the coexistence of the spellings Corea and Korea in 19th century publications, some Koreans believe that Imperial Japan, around the time of the Japanese occupation, intentionally standardised the spelling on Korea, making Japan appear first alphabetically. After Goryeo was replaced by Joseon in 1392, Joseon became the official name for the entire territory, though it was not universally accepted; the new official name has its origin in the ancient country of Gojoseon. In 1897, the Joseon dynasty changed the official name of the country from Joseon to Daehan Jeguk; the name Daehan, which means "Great Han" derives from Samhan, referring to the Three Kingdoms of Korea, not the ancient confederacies in the southern Korean Peninsula. However, the name Joseon was still used by Koreans to refer to their country, though it was no longer the official name. Under Japanese rule, the two names Han and Joseon coexisted. There were several groups who fought for independence, the most notable being the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.
Following the surrender of Japan, in 1945, the Republic of Korea was adopted as the legal English name for the new country. Since the government only controlled the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, the informal term South Korea was coined, becoming common in the Western world. While South Koreans use Han to refer to the entire country, North Koreans and ethnic Koreans living in China and Japan use the term Joseon as the name of the country; the Korean name "Daehan Minguk" is sometimes used by South Koreans as a metonym to refer to the Korean ethnicity as a whole, rather than just the South Korean state. The history of Korea begins with the founding of Joseon in 2333 BCE by Dangun, according to Korea's foundation mythology. Gojoseon expanded until it controlled parts of Manchuria. Gija Joseon was purportedly founded in the 12th century BC, but its existence and role have been controversial in the modern era. In 108 BCE, the Han dynasty defeated Wiman Joseon and installed four commanderies in the n
First Battle of Naktong Bulge
The First Battle of Naktong Bulge was an engagement between United States and North Korean forces early in the Korean War from August 5–19, 1950 in the vicinity of Yongsan and the Naktong River in South Korea. It was a part of the Battle of Pusan Perimeter, was one of several large engagements fought simultaneously; the battle ended in a victory for the United Nation after large numbers of US reinforcements destroyed an attacking North Korean division. On August 5, 4th Infantry Division, North Korean People's Army, crossed the Naktong River in the vicinity of Yongsan, attempting to cut US supply lines to the north as well as gaining a bridgehead into the Pusan Perimeter. Opposing it was the 24th Infantry Division of the Eighth United States Army. Over the next two weeks and North Korean forces fought a bloody series of engagements inflicting heavy casualties on one another in a confusing series of attacks and counterattacks, but neither side was able to gain the upper hand. In the end, the US forces, aided by reinforcements, air support and heavy weapons, destroyed the invading North Korean force, hampered by lack of supply and high desertion rates.
The battle was a turning point in the war for North Korean forces, which had seen previous victories owing to superior numbers and equipment. The American forces now had a numerical superiority and more equipment, including tanks and weapons capable of defeating the North Korean T-34 tanks. Following the 25 June 1950 outbreak of the Korean War after the invasion of the Republic of Korea by its northern neighbor, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the United Nations decided to commit troops to the conflict on behalf of South Korea; the United States, a member of the UN, subsequently committed ground forces to the Korean peninsula with the goal of fighting back the North Korean invasion and to prevent South Korea from collapsing. However, US forces in the Far East had been decreasing since the end of World War II, five years earlier, at the time the closest forces were the 24th Infantry Division, headquartered in Japan; the division was understrength, most of its equipment was antiquated due to reductions in military spending.
Regardless, the 24th was ordered to South Korea. The 24th Infantry Division was the first US unit sent into Korea with the mission to take the initial "shock" of North Korean advances, delaying much larger North Korean units to buy time to allow reinforcements to arrive; the division was alone for several weeks as it attempted to delay the North Koreans, making time for the 1st Cavalry and the 7th and 25th Infantry Divisions, along with other Eighth Army supporting units, to move into position. Advance elements of the 24th Infantry were badly defeated in the Battle of Osan on July 5, the first encounter between American and North Korean forces. For the first month after the defeat of Task Force Smith, 24th Infantry was defeated and forced south by superior North Korean numbers and equipment; the regiments of the 24th Infantry were systematically pushed south in engagements around Chochiwon and Pyongtaek. The 24th made a final stand in the Battle of Taejon, where it was completely destroyed but delaying North Korean forces until July 20.
By that time, the Eighth Army's force of combat troops were equal to North Korean forces attacking the region, with new UN units arriving every day. With Taejon captured, North Korean forces began surrounding the Pusan Perimeter from all sides in an attempt to envelop it; the 4th and 6th North Korean Infantry Divisions advanced south in a wide flanking maneuver. The two divisions attempted to envelop the UN's left flank, but became spread out in the process, they advanced on UN positions with armor and superior numbers pushing back US and South Korean forces. American forces were pushed back before halting the North Korean advance in a series of engagements in the southern section of the country. Forces of the 3rd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, newly arrived in the country, were wiped out at Hadong in a coordinated ambush by North Korean forces on July 27, opening a pass to the Pusan area. Soon after, North Korean forces took Chinju to the west, pushing back the US 19th Infantry Regiment and leaving routes to the Pusan open for more North Korean attacks.
US formations were subsequently able to defeat and push back the North Koreans on the flank in the Battle of the Notch on August 2. Suffering mounting losses, the KPA force in the west withdrew for several days to re-equip and receive reinforcements; this granted both sides a reprieve to prepare for the attack on the Pusan Perimeter. About 7 miles north of the point where it turns east and is joined by the Nam River, the Naktong River curves westward opposite Yongsan in a wide semicircular loop. For most of this span, the Naktong is around 400 metres wide and 6 feet deep, allowing infantry to wade across with some difficulty but preventing vehicles from crossing without assistance; this perimeter was defended by a network of observation posts on the high ground, manned by 24th Infantry. Forces in reserve would counterattack any attempted crossings by KPA. Artillery and mortar fire units were deployed so large amounts of fire could be delivered on any one spot; the division was dispersed. Understrength, it presented a thin line.
The 24th US Infantry Division, under the command of Major General John H. Church, occupied a region some 16 miles long along the Naktong River; the 34th US Infantry Regiment occupied the southern half, west of Yongsan while the 21st US Infantry Regiment occupied the northern half, west of Changyong. The 19th US Infantry Regiment, was re-equip
Battle of Chumonchin Chan
The Battle of Chumonchin Chan or the Action of 2 July 1950 was the battle fought between surface combatants during the main phase of the Korean War. It began. On 2 July 1950, USS Juneau, HMS Black Swan, HMS Jamaica were sailing along the coast of the Sea of Japan when they encountered four North Korean torpedo and gunboats that had just finished escorting a flotilla of ten ammunition ships up the coast; the North Korean torpedo boats began an attack on the allied ships. Before their torpedoes could be fired however, they were met with a salvo of gunfire from the United Nations ships which destroyed three of the torpedo boats; the surviving North Korean craft fled. In July, Juneau encountered the same ammunition ships and destroyed them. Naval Battles of the Korean War. Archived 2 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine
The Hadong Ambush was an engagement between United States and North Korean forces, occurring on July 27, 1950, in the village of Hadong in southern South Korea, early in the Korean War. The fight ended in a North Korean victory following a successful ambush of US forces which resulted in heavy American casualties; the US Army's 3rd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, a newly formed unit consisting of inexperienced new arrivals, was ordered to move to the South Korean village of Hadong to hold the pass there from advancing forces of the North Korean Korean People's Army. Unprepared for combat, the American forces walked into an ambush in which most of the battalion's command staff was killed in the pass, leaving lower-ranking soldiers to mount a disorganized defence against North Korean troops occupying prepared positions on higher ground. For three hours the battalion fought, pinned in a crossfire by North Korean soldiers on higher ground. North Korean forces were able to divide the American force and kill most of its commanders, further disorganizing the men.
Following the failed operation, the wounded US commander ordered a withdrawal, which became disorganized, resulting in hundreds of casualties. Destroyed after its first engagement, the 3rd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment was disbanded and merged with other units as the North Korean forces advanced through the pass and attacked US positions to the east. Following the invasion of South Korea by North Korea, the subsequent outbreak of the Korean War as a result, the United Nations decided to commit troops to the conflict on behalf of South Korea; the United States subsequently sent ground forces to the Korean peninsula with the goal of fighting back the North Korean invasion and to prevent South Korea from collapsing. However, US forces in the Far East had been decreasing since the end of World War II in 1945, at the time the closest forces were the 24th Infantry Division of the Eighth United States Army, headquartered in Japan; the division was understrength, most of its equipment was antiquated due to reductions in military spending.
Regardless, the 24th Infantry Division was ordered into South Korea. The 24th Infantry Division was the first US unit sent into Korea with the mission to take the initial "shock" of North Korean advances, delaying much larger KPA units to buy time to allow follow-on forces to arrive; the division was outnumbered and outgunned for several weeks as it attempted to delay the KPA, making time for the 7th Infantry Division, 25th Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division and other Eighth Army supporting units to move into position. Republic of Korea Army forces in the meantime were systematically defeated and forced south along Korea's east coast, with entire divisions being overrun by the KPA's superior firepower and equipment. Advance elements of the 24th Infantry Division were badly defeated in the Battle of Osan on July 5, during the first battle between American and North Korean forces. For the first month after the defeat of Task Force Smith, 24th Infantry Division soldiers were defeated and forced south by the KPA's superior numbers and equipment.
The regiments of the 24th Infantry Division were systematically pushed south in battles around Chochiwon and Pyongtaek. The 24th Infantry Division made a final stand in the Battle of Taejon, being completely destroyed but delaying North Korean forces from advancing until July 20. By that time, the Eighth Army's force of combat troops were equal to North Korean forces attacking the region at around 70,000 for each side, with new UN units arriving every day. On July 20, 400 hastily assembled; the inexperienced soldiers were assigned to the 29th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, a command, preparing other battalions to move into Korea and to relieve the other units of the 24th Infantry Division. The new formations, now consisting of soldiers who had no combat experience and grouped into two battalions, were sent into Pusan; the headquarters of the regiment remained behind to form a new regiment. This regiment would be in charge of the defense of Okinawa but would be rushed into Korea; the two battalions landed in Pusan on July 21 and were assigned to the 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, but they retained their designations as the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 29th Infantry Regiment.
Instead of being given time to train and prepare to enter the front lines, the battalions were sent to the regiment's sector at Chinju. By July 22 the units were on the front lines with new equipment; the equipment, fresh from production lines, was not prepared for combat, despite promises from several commanders that the unit would be given time to do so. American planners believed that the Hadong area was under attack from elements of the KPA 4th Division, having just received replacements following its victory at Taejon. However, the soldiers in the area were from the KPA 6th Division under the command of General Pang Ho San; the two divisions were coordinating to envelop the UN's left flank and were spread out. Therefore, only groups of a few hundred were advancing through the region, some with small numbers of tanks. After arrival, the commanding officer of the 19th Infantry Regiment, Colonel Ned D. Moore, ordered the 3rd Battalion, 29th Infantry to move out and seize the Hadong pass, a road junction 35 miles southwest of Chinju, where about 500 North Korean soldiers were reported to be moving.
Eighth Army had received reports that the KPA had been fighting South Korean police who were resisting in the village of Hadong, 1 mile west of the pass. The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel
Second Battle of Naktong Bulge
The Second Battle of Naktong Bulge was an engagement between United Nations and North Korean forces early in the Korean War from September 1 to September 15, 1950, along the Naktong River in South Korea. It was a part of the Battle of Pusan Perimeter, was one of several large engagements fought simultaneously; the battle ended in a victory for the United Nations after large numbers of United States and Republic of Korea troops repelled a strong North Korean attack. After the First Battle of Naktong Bulge, the US Army's 2nd Infantry Division was moved to defend the Naktong River line; the division, untried in combat, was struck with a strong attack by several divisions of the North Korean People's Army which crossed the river and struck all along the division's line. The force of the attack split the US 2nd Infantry Division in half, the North Koreans were able to penetrate to Yongsan, promoting a fight there; the urgency of the threat to Pusan Perimeter prompted the US Marine Corps 1st Provisional Marine Brigade to be brought in to reinforce the US Army troops.
In two weeks of heavy fighting, the US forces were able to force the North Koreans out of the Naktong Bulge region. The North Koreans were further repulsed after the UN counterattack at Inchon, which culminated in the virtual destruction of the North Korean army. From the outbreak of the Korean War and the invasion of South Korea by the North, the North Korean People's Army had enjoyed superiority in both manpower and equipment over both the Republic of Korea Army and the United Nations forces dispatched to South Korea to prevent it from collapsing; the North Korean strategy was to aggressively pursue UN and ROK forces on all avenues of approach south and to engage them aggressively, attacking from the front and initiating a double envelopment of both flanks of the unit, which allowed the North Koreans to surround and cut off the opposing force, which would be forced to retreat in disarray leaving behind much of its equipment. From their initial June 25 offensive to fights in July and early August, the North Koreans used this strategy to defeat any UN force and push it south.
However, when the UN forces, under the Eighth United States Army, established the Pusan Perimeter in August, the UN troops held a continuous line along the peninsula which North Korean troops could not flank, their advantages in numbers decreased daily as the superior UN logistical system brought in more troops and supplies to the UN army. When the North Koreans approached the Pusan Perimeter on August 5, they attempted the same frontal assault technique on the four main avenues of approach into the perimeter. Throughout August, the NK 6th Division, the NK 7th Division engaged the US 25th Infantry Division at the Battle of Masan repelling a UN counteroffensive before countering with battles at Komam-ni and Battle Mountain; these attacks stalled as UN forces, well equipped and with plenty of reserves repelled North Korean attacks. North of Masan, the NK 4th Division and the US 24th Infantry Division sparred in the Naktong Bulge area. In the First Battle of Naktong Bulge, the North Korean division was unable to hold its bridgehead across the river as large numbers of US reserve forces were brought in to repel it, on August 19, the NK 4th Division was forced back across the river with 50 percent casualties.
In the Taegu region, five North Korean divisions were repulsed by three UN divisions in several attempts to attack the city during the Battle of Taegu. Heavy fighting took place at the Battle of the Bowling Alley where the NK 13th Division was completely destroyed in the attack. On the east coast, three more North Korean divisions were repulsed by the South Koreans at P'ohang-dong during the Battle of P'ohang-dong. All along the front, the North Korean troops were reeling from these defeats, the first time in the war their strategies were not working. In planning its new offensive, the North Korean command decided any attempt to flank the UN force was impossible due to the support of the UN navy. Instead, they opted to use frontal attack to breach the perimeter and collapse it as the only hope of achieving success in the battle. Fed by intelligence from the Soviet Union the North Koreans were aware the UN forces were building up along the Pusan Perimeter and that it must conduct an offensive soon or it could not win the battle.
A secondary objective was to destroy the UN and ROK units in that city. As part of this mission, the North Korean units would first cut the supply lines to Taegu. On August 20, the North Korean commands distributed operations orders to their subordinate units; the North Koreans called for a simultaneous five-prong attack against the UN lines. These attacks would overwhelm the UN defenders and allow the North Koreans to break through the lines in at least one place to force the UN forces back. Five battle groupings were ordered; the center attack called for the NK 9th Division, NK 4th Division, NK 2nd Division, NK 10th Division break through the US 2nd Infantry Division at the Naktong Bulge to Miryang and Yongsan. During the North Koreans' September 1 offensive, the US 25th Infantry Division's US 35th Infantry Regiment was engaged in the Battle of Nam River north of Masan. On the 35th Regiment's right flank, just north of the confluence of the Nam River and the Naktong River, was the US 9th Infantry Regiment, US 2nd Infantry Division.
There, in the southernmost part of the 2nd Infantry Division zone, the 9th Infantry Regiment held a sector more than 20,000 yards long, including the bulge area of the Naktong where the First Battle of Naktong Bulge had taken place earlier in August. Each US infantry company on the river line here had a front of 3,000 feet to 4,000 feet
Battle of Pusan Perimeter
The Battle of Pusan Perimeter was a large-scale battle between United Nations and North Korean forces lasting from August 4 to September 18, 1950. It was one of the first major engagements of the Korean War. An army of 140,000 UN troops, having been pushed to the brink of defeat, were rallied to make a final stand against the invading North Korean army, 98,000 men strong. UN forces, having been defeated by the advancing North Koreans, were forced back to the "Pusan Perimeter", a 140-mile defensive line around an area on the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula that included the port of Pusan; the UN troops, consisting of forces from the Republic of Korea, United States and United Kingdom mounted a last stand around the perimeter, fighting off repeated North Korean attacks for six weeks as they were engaged around the cities of Taegu, P'ohang, the Naktong River. The massive North Korean assaults were unsuccessful in forcing the United Nations troops back further from the perimeter, despite two major pushes in August and September.
North Korean troops, hampered by supply shortages and massive losses, continually staged attacks on UN forces in an attempt to penetrate the perimeter and collapse the line. However, the UN used the port to amass an overwhelming advantage in troops and logistics, its navy and air forces remained unchallenged by the North Koreans during the fight. After six weeks, the North Korean force collapsed and retreated in defeat after the UN force launched a counterattack at Inchon on September 15; the battle would be the furthest the North Korean troops would advance in the war, as subsequent fighting ground the war into a stalemate. Following the outbreak of the Korean War, the United Nations decided to commit troops in support of the Republic of Korea, invaded by the neighboring Democratic People's Republic of Korea; the United States subsequently sent ground forces to the Korean peninsula with the goal of fighting back the North Korean invasion and to prevent South Korea from collapsing. However, US forces in the Far East had been decreasing since the end of World War II, five years earlier, at the time the closest forces were the 24th Infantry Division of the Eighth United States Army, headquartered in Japan.
The division was understrength, most of its equipment was antiquated due to reductions in military spending. Regardless, the 24th Infantry Division was ordered into South Korea; the Korean People's Army, 89,000 men strong, had advanced into South Korea in six columns, catching the Republic of Korea Army by surprise and routing it. The smaller ROKA suffered from widespread lack of organization and equipment, was unprepared for war. Numerically superior, KPA forces destroyed isolated resistance from the 38,000 ROKA soldiers on the front before moving south. Most of South Korea's forces retreated in the face of the advance. By June 28, the KPA had captured South Korea's capital of Seoul, forcing the government and its shattered forces to retreat further south. Though it was pushed back, South Korean forces increased their resistance further south, hoping to delay KPA units as much as possible. North and South Korean units sparred for control of several cities, inflicting heavy casualties on one another.
The ROKA defended Yongdok fiercely before being forced back, managed to repel North Korean forces in the Battle of Andong. Outnumbered and under-equipped US forces—committed in piecemeal fashion as as they could be deployed—were defeated and pushed south; the 24th Division, the first US division committed, took heavy losses in the Battle of Taejon in mid-July, which they were driven from after heavy fighting. Elements of the 3rd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, newly arrived in the country, were wiped out at Hadong in a coordinated ambush by KPA forces on July 27, leaving open a pass to the Pusan area. Soon after, Chinju to the west was taken, pushing back the 19th Infantry Regiment and leaving open routes to Pusan. US units were subsequently able to defeat and push back the KPA on the flank in the Battle of the Notch on August 2. Suffering mounting losses, the KPA force on the west flank withdrew for several days to re-equip and receive reinforcements; this granted both sides several days of reprieve to prepare for the attack on the Pusan Perimeter.
The KPA forces were organized into a mechanized combined arms force of ten divisions numbering some 90,000 well-trained and well-equipped troops in July, with hundreds of T-34 tanks. However, defensive actions by US and South Korean forces had delayed the North Koreans in their invasion of South Korea, costing them 58,000 of their troops and a large number of tanks. In order to recoup these losses, the North Koreans had to rely on less-experienced replacements and conscripts, many of whom had been taken from the conquered regions of South Korea. During the course of the battle, the North Koreans raised a total of 13 infantry divisions and one armored division to the fight at Pusan Perimeter; the UN forces were organized under the command of the United States Army. The Eighth United States Army served as the headquarters component for the UN forces, was headquartered at Taegu. Under it were three weak US divisions; these forces occupied the western segment of the perimeter, along the Naktong River.
The ROKA, a force of 58,000, was organized into five divisions.
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