Scottish Independence Referendum: On September 18th, the Scottish people will vote to determine their nation's place in the United Kingdom. With polls currently extremely close, there is a potential for a new country to form, and political realities of constituent countries of the United Kingdom to change.
The United Kingdom (UK) is arguably Europe's most influential country. In simple terms, it's the union of the individual countries of England, Scotland and Wales, collectively called Great Britain (Europe's largest island) and the northeastern corner of Ireland - the constitutionally distinct region of Northern Ireland.
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy. Its reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is also the Queen and Head of State of (15) other Commonwealth realms, including Australia, Canada, Jamaica and New Zealand.
With deference to the Roman Empire, and 15th and early 16th century Spain, the British Empire was the world's first superpower, with colonies and dependencies stretching around the globe.
It was the significant factor and strongest ingredient in the development of many English speaking countries, including the United States - its closest ally.
Throughout the 19th Century, Great Britain was the world's dominant industrial and maritime power. It played a huge role in the development of our modern democracies, and in the advancements of literature, manufacturing, science and the performing arts.
Despite the (global) decline of the British Empire, the United Kingdom remains a consequential force; it's the fifth largest economy in the world, second largest in Europe, and a respected (major) military power.
The genesis of the United Kingdom began in early England. It took centuries of invasions and wars, heroes and villains, kings and queens, and swallowed pride by all concerned before its many parts united as one.
For historical details on each of the countries, and how it all came together, follow the links below: