British passports are passports issued by the United Kingdom to those holding any form of British nationality. There are different types of British nationality, different types of British passports as a result. A British passport serves as proof of citizenship, it facilitates access to consular assistance from British embassies around the world, or any embassy of another European Union member state. Passports are issued using royal prerogative, exercised by Her Majesty's Government. British citizen passports have been issued in the UK by Her Majesty's Passport Office since 2006, a division of the Home Office. British citizens can use their passport as evidence of right of abode in the United Kingdom and EU citizenship. All passports issued in the UK since 2006 have been biometric. In 1988, the UK government changed the colour of the passport to burgundy red, in line with most EU passports. In response to Brexit, the UK government announced in December 2017 its plan to change the passport colour to dark blue from October 2019.
New passports were introduced from 30 March 2019 that removed all references to the European Union as part of the Brexit planning by the Home Office. Owing to the many different categories in British nationality law, there are different types of passports for each class of British nationality. All categories of British passports are issued by Her Majesty's Government under royal prerogative. Since all British passports are issued in the name of the Crown, the reigning monarch does not require a passport; the following table shows the number of valid British passports on the last day of 2018 and shows the different categories eligible to hold a British passport: British citizen, British overseas citizen, British subject, British protected person and British national passports are issued by HM Passport Office in the UK. British nationals of these categories applying for passports outside the UK can apply for their passport online from HMPO. British passports were issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in British embassies around the world.
However, in 2009, this was stopped and British citizen passports can now only be issued by the Passport Office in the UK. The FCO says: "In their 2006 report on consular services, the National Audit Office recommended limiting passport production to fewer locations to increase security and reduce expenditure." British citizens and British Overseas Territory citizens of Gibraltar can apply for their passport in Gibraltar, where it will be issued by the Gibraltar Civil Status and Registration Office. British citizens, British Overseas Territory citizens of Gibraltar and British subjects with right of abode are considered to be UK nationals for the purpose of EU law, they are therefore considered to be EU citizens, allowing them to move within the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Other types of British nationals are not considered to be EU citizens, but may enjoy visa-free travel to the European Union on a short-term basis. British passports in Jersey and the Isle of Man are issued in the name of the Lieutenant-Governor of the respective Crown Dependencies on behalf of the States of Jersey, States of Guernsey and the Government of the Isle of Man respectively.
Meanwhile, in British Overseas Territories, British Overseas Territories Citizen passports are issued in the name of the respective territory's governor. Diplomatic passports are issued in the UK by HMPO, they are issued to British diplomats and high-ranking government officials to facilitate travel abroad. Official passports are issued to those travelling abroad on official state business. Queen's Messenger passports are issued to diplomatic couriers who transport documents on behalf of HM Government. Emergency passports are issued by British embassies across the world. Emergency passports may be issued to any person holding British nationality. Commonwealth citizens are eligible to receive British emergency passports in countries where their country of nationality is unrepresented. Under a reciprocal agreement, British emergency passports may be issued to EU citizens in countries where their own country does not have a diplomatic mission or is otherwise unable to assist. Safe conduct documents notes signed by the monarch, were issued to foreigners as well as English subjects in medieval times.
They were first mentioned in an Act of Parliament, the Safe Conducts Act in 1414. Between 1540 and 1685, the Privy Council issued passports, although they were still signed by the monarch until the reign of Charles II when the Secretary of State could sign them instead; the Secretary of State signed all passports in place of the monarch from 1794 onwards, at which time formal records started to be kept. Passports were written in English until 1772, when French was used instead. From about 1855 English was used, with some sections translated into French for many years. In 1855 passports became a standardised document issued to British nationals, they were a simple single-sheet paper document, by 1914 included a photograph of the holder. The British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914 was passed on the outbreak of World War I. A new format was introduced in 1915: a single sheet folded into eight with a cardboard cover, it included a description of the holder as well as a photograph, had to be renewed after two years.
Some duplicate passports and passport records are available at the British Library. A passport signed by King Charles I still exists. Various changes to the design were made over the years: In 1927, the country name changed from "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" to "Unit
British Overseas Territories citizen
British Overseas Territories citizenship called British Dependent Territories citizenship, is a class of British nationality granted to people connected with one or more of the British Overseas Territories. Individuals with this nationality are British nationals and Commonwealth citizens, but not British citizens; the status itself does not grant right of abode in the United Kingdom or any of the territories, though all BOTCs would have had belonger status in a territory on acquisition. Nationals of this class are subject to immigration controls when entering the United Kingdom and do not have the automatic right to live or work there; this nationality was created to differentiate between British nationals with strong ties to the United Kingdom and those connected only with an overseas territory. British Overseas Territories citizens are eligible for British passports and enjoy consular protection when travelling abroad. All BOTCs are British citizens, after nationality law reform in 2002. All British nationals held a common citizenship, as Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, had the unrestricted right to enter and live in any British territory.
This was restricted by Parliament from 1962 to 1971, when subjects originating from outside of the British Islands first had immigration controls imposed on them when entering the United Kingdom. In 1983, CUKCs were reclassified into different nationality groups based on their ancestry and immigration status: CUKCs with the right of abode in the United Kingdom or were connected with the UK, Channel Islands, or Isle of Man became British citizens while those connected with a remaining colony became British Dependent Territories citizens. Individuals who could not be reclassified into either of these statuses became British Overseas citizens. British Overseas Territories citizenship is a'citizenship' covering all the Overseas Territories. Individual overseas territories do not have their own legal nationality status; however they retain the right to make their own immigration laws and award Belonger status, holding BOTC does not in itself give a right to reside in a British Overseas territory.
This depends on a territory's immigration laws. Thus, some BOTCs have no right to live in any overseas territory, it is possible to have Belonger status in a territory without being a BOTC, depending on the law of that territory. Depending on the territories' laws, most non-British citizens who acquire this status will need to become naturalised BOTCs, while British citizens have the option to do so if they wish. An example of this is Bermuda's Bermudian status, which serves as the territory's de facto citizenship. Bermudian status can be indicated on either a BOTC or British citizen passport by a rubber stamp, it is that stamp which indicates to Bermudian immigration officers that the passport's holder is Bermudian, it is not necessary for Bermudians to hold both a BOTC and a British citizen passport concurrently, as either one is sufficient for entry into Bermuda as a person with Bermudian status. There are three ways to acquire British Overseas Territories citizenship: by birth or adoption, descent, or naturalisation.
Individuals born in a territory automatically receive BOTC status if at least one parent is a BOTC or has belonger status. Children born to British citizen parents who are not settled in an overseas territory are not BOTCs at birth. Parents do not need to be connected with the same overseas territory to pass on BOTC status. Alternatively, a child born in an overseas territory may be registered as a BOTC if either parent becomes a BOTC or settles in any overseas territory subsequent to birth. A child who lives in the same territory until age 10 and is not absent for more than 90 days in each year is entitled to registration as a BOTC. Furthermore, an adopted child automatically become a BOTC on the effective day of adoption if either parent is a BOTC or has belonger status. In all cases that an individual is a British Overseas Territories citizen at birth or adoption within the territories, that person is a BOTC otherwise than by descent. Individuals born outside of the territories are BOTCs by descent if either parent is a BOTC otherwise than by descent.
Unmarried fathers cannot automatically pass on BOTC status, it would be necessary for them to register children as BOTCs. If a parent is a BOTC by descent, additional requirements apply to register children as BOTCs. Parents serving in Crown service who have children abroad are exempted from these circumstances, their children would be BOTCs otherwise than by descent, as if they had been born on their home territory. Foreigners and non-BOTC British nationals may naturalise as British Overseas Territories citizens after residing in a territory for more than five years and possessing belonger status or permanent residency for more than one year; the residency requirement is reduced to three years if an applicant is married to a BOTC. All applicants for naturalisation and registration are considered by the Governor of the relevant territory, but the Home Secretary retains discretionary authority to grant BOTC status. Since 2004, BOTC applicants aged 18 or older are required to take an oath of allegiance to the Sovereign and loyalty pledge to the relevant territory during their citizenship ceremonies.
British Overseas Territories citizenship can be relinquished by a declaration made to the Governor of the connected territory, provided that a person possesses or intends to acquire another nationality. BOTC status can be deprived if it was fraudulently acquired or if an individual is connected with a territory that b
British Overseas Territories
The British Overseas Territories or United Kingdom Overseas Territories are 14 territories under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not been granted independence or have voted to remain British territories; these territories do not form part of the United Kingdom and, with the exception of Gibraltar, are not part of the European Union. Most of the permanently inhabited territories are internally self-governing, with the UK retaining responsibility for defence and foreign relations. Three are inhabited only by a transitory population of scientific personnel, they all share the British monarch as head of state. As of April 2018 the Minister responsible for the Territories excluding the Falkland Islands and the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus, is the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN; the other three territories are the responsibility of the Minister of State for Europe and the Americas. The fourteen British Overseas Territories are: The term "British Overseas Territory" was introduced by the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, replacing the term British Dependent Territory, introduced by the British Nationality Act 1981.
Prior to 1 January 1983, the territories were referred to as British Crown Colonies. Although the Crown dependencies of Jersey and the Isle of Man are under the sovereignty of the British monarch, they are in a different constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom; the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are themselves distinct from the Commonwealth realms, a group of 16 independent countries each having Elizabeth II as their reigning monarch, from the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of 53 countries with historic links to the British Empire. With the exceptions of the British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the British Indian Ocean Territory, the Territories retain permanent civilian populations. Permanent residency for the 7,000 civilians living in the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia is limited to citizens of the Republic of Cyprus. Collectively, the Territories encompass a population of about 250,000 people and a land area of about 1,727,570 square kilometres.
The vast majority of this land area, 1,700,000 square kilometres, constitutes the uninhabited British Antarctic Territory, while the largest territory by population, accounts for a quarter of the total BOT population. At the other end of the scale, three territories have no civilian population. Pitcairn Islands, settled by the survivors of the Mutiny on the Bounty, is the smallest settled territory with 49 inhabitants, while the smallest by land area is Gibraltar on the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula; the United Kingdom participates in the Antarctic Treaty System and, as part of a mutual agreement, the British Antarctic Territory is recognised by four of the six other sovereign nations making claims to Antarctic territory. Early colonies, in the sense of English subjects residing in lands hitherto outside the control of the English government, were known as "Plantations"; the first, colony was Newfoundland, where English fishermen set up seasonal camps in the 16th century. It is now a province of Canada known as Labrador.
It retains strong cultural ties with Britain. English colonisation of North America began in 1607 with the settlement of Jamestown, the first successful permanent colony in Virginia, its offshoot, was settled inadvertently after the wrecking of the Virginia company's flagship there in 1609, with the Virginia Company's charter extended to include the archipelago in 1612. St. George's town, founded in Bermuda in that year, remains the oldest continuously inhabited British settlement in the New World. Bermuda and Bermudians have played important, sometimes pivotal, but underestimated or unacknowledged roles in the shaping of the English and British trans-Atlantic Empires; these include maritime commerce, settlement of the continent and of the West Indies, the projection of naval power via the colony's privateers, among other areas. The growth of the British Empire in the 19th century, to its territorial peak in the 1920s, saw Britain acquire nearly one quarter of the world's land mass, including territories with large indigenous populations in Asia and Africa.
From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, the larger settler colonies – in Canada, New Zealand and South Africa – first became self-governing colonies and achieved independence in all matters except foreign policy and trade. Separate self-governing colonies federated to become Canada, South Africa, Rhodesia; these and other large self-governing colonies had become known as Dominions by the 1920s. The Dominions achieved full independence with the Statute of Westminster. Through a process of decolonisation following the Second World War, most of the British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean gained independence; some colonies becam
Citizenship of the European Union
Citizenship of the European Union is afforded to qualifying citizens of European Union member states. It was given to the citizens of member states by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, at the same time as the European Community was gaining its own legal identity; the treaty established a direct legal relationship between that new legal identity and its citizens by establishing a directly elected European Parliament and the ability for citizens to bring cases directly to the ECJ, has been in force since 1993. European Union citizenship is additional to national citizenship. EU citizenship affords rights and legal protections to all of its citizens. European Union citizens have the right to free movement and employment across the EU. EU citizens are free to trade and transport goods and capital through EU borders, as in a national market, with no restrictions on capital movements or fees. Citizens have the right to vote in and run as a candidate in local elections in the country where they live, European elections and European Citizens' Initiative.
Citizenship of the EU confers the right to consular protection by embassies of other EU member states when a person's country of citizenship is not represented by an embassy or consulate in the country in which they require protection. EU citizens have the right to address the European Parliament, European Ombudsman, EU agencies directly in their own language, provided the issue raised is within that institution's competence. EU citizens enjoy the legal protections of EU law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and acts and directives regarding, for example, protection of personal data, rights of victims of crime and combating trafficking in human beings, equal pay, protection from discrimination in employment on grounds of religion or belief, sexual orientation and age; the EU has an office of European Ombudsman whom EU citizens can approach directly. Given the substantial number of Europeans who left Europe for other continents in the 1800s and 1900s, the extension of citizenship by descent, or jus sanguinis, by some European countries to an unlimited number of generations of those emigrants' descendants, there are many tens of millions or hundreds of millions of persons outside Europe who have a claim to citizenship in an EU member state and, by extension, to EU citizenship.
If these individuals were to overcome the bureaucratic hurdles of certifying their citizenship, they would have freedom of movement to live anywhere in the EU, under the 1992 European Court of Justice decision Micheletti v Cantabria. EU citizenship was first introduced by the Maastricht Treaty, was extended by the Treaty of Amsterdam. Prior to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, the European Communities treaties provided guarantees for the free movement of economically active persons, but not for others; the 1951 Treaty of Paris establishing the European Coal and Steel Community established a right to free movement for workers in these industries and the 1957 Treaty of Rome provided for the free movement of workers and services. However, the treaty provisions were interpreted by the European Court of Justice not as having a narrow economic purpose, but rather a wider social and economic purpose. In Levin, the Court found that the "freedom to take up employment was important, not just as a means towards the creation of a single market for the benefit of the member state economies, but as a right for the worker to raise her or his standard of living".
Under the ECJ caselaw, the rights of free movement of workers applies regardless of the worker's purpose in taking up employment abroad, to both part-time and full-time work, whether or not the worker required additional financial assistance from the member state into which he moves. Since the ECJ has held that a recipient of service has free movement rights under the treaty and this criterion is fulfilled every national of an EU country within another member state, whether economically active or not, had a right under Article 12 of the European Community Treaty to non-discrimination prior to the Maastricht Treaty. In the case of Martinez Sala, the European Court of Justice held that the citizenship provisions provided substantive equal treatment rights alongside those granted by union law; the case of Baumbast established that the right to equal treatment applies to both economically active and inactive citizens. Despite these broad interpretations, the landmark case of Dano combined the criteria of freedom to move and equal treatment, citing them as inter-dependant, subsequently limiting the scope of Martinez Sala.
The main benefit of being a citizen of an EU country has been that of free movement. The free movement applies to the citizens of European Economic Area countries and Switzerland. However, with the creation of EU citizenship, certain political rights came into being; the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for citizens to be "directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament" and "to participate in the democratic life of the Union". The following rights are afforded: Political rightsVoting in European elections: a right to vote and stand in elections to the European Parliament, in any EU member state Voting in municipal elections: a right to vote and stand in local elections in an EU state other than their own, under the same conditions as the nationals of that state Accessing European government documents: a right to access to European Parliament and Commission documents. Petitioning Parliament and the Ombudsman: the right to petition the European Pa
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered to the north by Spain; the landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of, a densely populated town area, home to over 30,000 people Gibraltarians. In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne; the territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, only 8 miles wide at this naval choke point, it remains strategically important. Today Gibraltar's economy is based on tourism, online gambling, financial services and cargo ship refuelling; the sovereignty of Gibraltar is a point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations because Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in a 1967 referendum and, in a 2002 referendum, the idea of shared sovereignty was rejected.
Evidence of Neanderthal habitation in Gibraltar from around 50,000 years ago has been discovered at Gorham's Cave. The caves of Gibraltar continued to be used by Homo sapiens after the final extinction of the Neanderthals. Stone tools, ancient hearths and animal bones dating from around 40,000 years ago to about 5,000 years ago have been found in deposits left in Gorham's Cave. Numerous potsherds dating from the Neolithic period have been found in Gibraltar's caves of types typical of the Almerian culture found elsewhere in Andalusia around the town of Almería, from which it takes its name. There is little evidence of habitation in the Bronze Age, when people had stopped living in caves. During ancient times, Gibraltar was regarded by the peoples of the Mediterranean as a place of religious and symbolic importance; the Phoenicians were present for several centuries since around 950 BC using Gorham's Cave as a shrine to the genius loci, as did the Carthaginians and Romans after them. Gibraltar was known as Mons Calpe, a name of Phoenician origin.
Mons Calpe was considered by the ancient Greeks and Romans as one of the Pillars of Hercules, after the Greek legend of the creation of the Strait of Gibraltar by Heracles. There is no known archaeological evidence of permanent settlements from the ancient period, they settled at the head of the bay in. The town of Carteia, near the location of the modern Spanish town of San Roque, was founded by the Phoenicians around 950 BC on the site of an early settlement of the native Turdetani people. After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, Gibraltar came under the control of the Vandals, who crossed into Africa at the invitation of Boniface, the Count of the territory; the area formed part of the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania for 300 years, from 414 until 711 AD. Following a raid in 710, a predominantly Berber army under the command of Tariq ibn Ziyad crossed from North Africa in April 711 and landed somewhere in the vicinity of Gibraltar. Tariq's expedition led to the Islamic conquest of most of the Iberian peninsula.
Mons Calpe was renamed the Mount of Tariq, subsequently corrupted into Gibraltar. In 1160 the Almohad Sultan Abd al-Mu'min ordered that a permanent settlement, including a castle, be built, it received the name of Medinat al-Fath. The Tower of Homage of the Moorish Castle remains standing today. From 1274 onwards, the town was fought over and captured by the Nasrids of Granada, the Marinids of Morocco and the kings of Castile. In 1462 Gibraltar was captured by 1st Duke of Medina Sidonia. After the conquest, Henry IV of Castile assumed the additional title of King of Gibraltar, establishing it as part of the comarca of the Campo Llano de Gibraltar. Six years Gibraltar was restored to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who sold it in 1474 to a group of 4350 conversos from Cordova and Seville and in exchange for maintaining the garrison of the town for two years, after which time they were expelled, returning to their home towns or moving on to other parts of Spain. In 1501 Gibraltar passed back to the Spanish Crown, Isabella I of Castile issued a Royal Warrant granting Gibraltar the coat of arms that it still uses.
In 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession, a combined Anglo-Dutch fleet, representing the Grand Alliance, captured the town of Gibraltar on behalf of the Archduke Charles of Austria in his campaign to become King of Spain. Subsequently most of the population left the town with many settling nearby; as the Alliance's campaign faltered, the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht was negotiated, which ceded control of Gibraltar to Britain to secure Britain's withdrawal from the war. Unsuccessful attempts by Spanish monarchs to regain Gibraltar were made with the siege of 1727 and again with the Great Siege of Gibraltar, during the American War of Independence. Gibraltar became a key base for the Royal Navy and played an important role prior to the Battle of Trafalgar and during the Crimean War of 1854–56, because of its strategic location. In the 18th century, the peacetime military garrison fluctuated in numbers from a minimum of 1,100 to a maximum of 5,000; the first half of the 19th century saw a significant increase of population to more t
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations known as the Commonwealth, is a unique political association of 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states; the Commonwealth dates back to the first half of the 20th century with the decolonisation of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories. It was created as the British Commonwealth through the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, formalised by the United Kingdom through the Statute of Westminster in 1931; the current Commonwealth of Nations was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949, which modernised the community, established the member states as "free and equal". The human symbol of this free association is the Head of the Commonwealth Queen Elizabeth II, the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting appointed Charles, Prince of Wales to be her designated successor, although the position is not technically hereditary.
The Queen is the head of state of 16 member states, known as the Commonwealth realms, while 32 other members are republics and five others have different monarchs. Member states have no legal obligations to one another. Instead, they are united by English language, history and their shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law; these values are enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter and promoted by the quadrennial Commonwealth Games. The countries of the Commonwealth cover more than 29,958,050 km2, equivalent to 20% of the world's land area, span all six inhabited continents. Queen Elizabeth II, in her address to Canada on Dominion Day in 1959, pointed out that the confederation of Canada on 1 July 1867 had been the birth of the "first independent country within the British Empire", she declared: "So, it marks the beginning of that free association of independent states, now known as the Commonwealth of Nations." As long ago as 1884 Lord Rosebery, while visiting Australia, had described the changing British Empire, as some of its colonies became more independent, as a "Commonwealth of Nations".
Conferences of British and colonial prime ministers occurred periodically from the first one in 1887, leading to the creation of the Imperial Conferences in 1911. The Commonwealth developed from the imperial conferences. A specific proposal was presented by Jan Smuts in 1917 when he coined the term "the British Commonwealth of Nations" and envisioned the "future constitutional relations and readjustments in essence" at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, attended by delegates from the Dominions as well as Britain; the term first received imperial statutory recognition in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, when the term British Commonwealth of Nations was substituted for British Empire in the wording of the oath taken by members of parliament of the Irish Free State. In the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference and its dominions agreed they were "equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by common allegiance to the Crown, associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations".
The term "Commonwealth" was adopted to describe the community. These aspects to the relationship were formalised by the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which applied to Canada without the need for ratification, but Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland had to ratify the statute for it to take effect. Newfoundland never did, as on 16 February 1934, with the consent of its parliament, the government of Newfoundland voluntarily ended and governance reverted to direct control from London. Newfoundland joined Canada as its 10th province in 1949. Australia and New Zealand ratified the Statute in 1947 respectively. Although the Union of South Africa was not among the Dominions that needed to adopt the Statute of Westminster for it to take effect, two laws—the Status of the Union Act, 1934, the Royal Executive Functions and Seals Act of 1934—were passed to confirm South Africa's status as a sovereign state. After the Second World War ended, the British Empire was dismantled. Most of its components have become independent countries, whether Commonwealth realms or republics, members of the Commonwealth.
There remain the 14 self-governing British overseas territories which retain some political association with the United Kingdom. In April 1949, following the London Declaration, the word "British" was dropped from the title of the Commonwealth to reflect its changing nature. Burma and Aden are the only states that were British colonies at the time of the war not to have joined the Commonwealth upon independence. Former British protectorates and mandates that did not become members of the Commonwealth are Egypt, Transjordan, Sudan, British Somaliland, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates; the postwar Commonwealth was given a fresh mission by Queen Elizabeth in her Christmas Day 1953 broadcast, in which she envisioned the Commonwealth as "an new conception – built on the highest qualities of the Spirit of Man: friendship and the desire for freedom and peace". Hoped for success was reinforced by such achievements as climbing Mount Everest in 1953, breaking the four-minute mile in 1954
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