The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK), Great Britain (GB) or Britain, is an island nation lying off the north-western coast of Europe between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the latter being the only part of the country that shares a land border with another sovereign state – the Republic of Ireland. It is linked to France (just 35 km away) by tunnel under the English Channel.
The UK is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, and the third largest economy in Europe after Germany and France. Its agriculture is intensive, highly mechanised and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labour force. The country has large coal, natural gas, and oil resources, but its oil and natural gas reserves are declining. Banking, insurance, and business services, are key drivers of the British economy, with manufacturing declining in importance – although it still accounts for about 10% of economic output.
The country’s terrain is one of rugged hills, low mountains (in Wales and Scotland) and rolling plains in the south and east. Most of the population lives in and around its biggest conurbations of London, Manchester, Liverpool, Southampton, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.