United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain) is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea.

The United Kingdom is a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system, with its seat of government in the capital city of London. It is a country in its own right and consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are three devolved national administrations, each with varying powers, situated in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh; the capitals of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland respectively. Associated with the UK, but not constitutionally part of it, are three Crown Dependencies and fourteen overseas territories.These are remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in 1922, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land surface and was the largest empire in history. British influence can still be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former territories.

Colleges within universities in the United Kingdom:
In relation to universities, the term college normally refers to a part of the university which does not have degree-awarding powers in itself. Degrees are always awarded by universities, colleges are institutions or organisations which prepare students for the degree. In some cases, colleges prepare students for the degree of a university of which the college is a part and in some cases colleges are independent institutions which prepare students to sit as external candidates at other universities (eg many higher education colleges prepare students to sit for external examinations of universities). In the past, many of what are now universities with their own degree-awarding powers were colleges which had their degrees awarded by either a federal university (eg Cardiff University) or another university (eg many of the post-1992 universities).

History
Settlement by anatomically modern humans of what was to become the United Kingdom occurred in waves beginning by about 30,000 years ago.By the end of the region's prehistoric period, the population is thought to have belonged, in the main, to a culture termed Insular Celtic, comprising Brythonic Britain and Gaelic Ireland.The Roman conquest, beginning in 43 AD, and the 400-year rule of southern Britain, was followed by an invasion by Germanic Anglo-Saxon settlers, reducing the Brythonic area mainly to what was to become Wales.The region settled by the Anglo-Saxons became unified as the Kingdom of England in the 10th century.Meanwhile, Gaelic-speakers in north west Britain (with connections to the north-east of Ireland and traditionally supposed to have migrated from there in the 5th century) united with the Picts to create the Kingdom of Scotland in the 9th century.In 1066, the Normans invaded England and after its conquest, seized large parts of Wales, conquered much of Ireland and settled in Scotland bringing to each country feudalism on the Northern French model and Norman-French culture.The Norman elites greatly influenced, but eventually assimilated with, each of the local cultures.Subsequent medieval English kings completed the conquest of Wales and made an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to annex Scotland.

Economy
The UK has a partially regulated market economy.Based on market exchange rates the UK is today the sixth-largest economy in the world and the third-largest in Europe after Germany and France, having fallen behind France for the first time in over a decade in 2008.HM Treasury, led by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is responsible for developing and executing the British government's public finance policy and economic policy. The Bank of England is the UK's central bank and is responsible for issuing the nation's currency, the pound sterling. Banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland retain the right to issue their own notes, subject to retaining enough Bank of England notes in reserve to cover their issue. Pound sterling is the world's third-largest reserve currency (after the U.S. Dollar and the Euro).Since 1997 the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, headed by the Governor of the Bank of England, has been responsible for setting interest rates at the level necessary to achieve the overall inflation target for the economy that is set by the Chancellor each year.In the final quarter of 2008 the UK economy officially entered recession for the first time since 1991.Unemployment increased from 5.2% in May 2008 to 7.6% in May 2009 and by January 2011 the unemployment rate among 18 to 24-year-olds had risen from 11.9% to 20.3%, the highest since current records began in 1992.Total UK government debt rose from 44.5% of GDP in December 2007 to 76.1% of GDP in December 2010.
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