The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK, or Britain, is a sovereign island country located off the northwestern coast of continental Europe. Apart from this land border, the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea. The largest island, Great Britain, is linked to France by the Channel Tunnel.
The United Kingdom is a union of four constituent countries: England, Northern Ireland,Scotland and Wales. The United Kingdom is governed by a parliamentary system with its seat of government in London, the capital, and is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. The Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, formally possessions of the Crown, are not part of the UK but form a federacy with it. The UKhas fourteen overseas territories, all remnants of the British Empire, which at its height encompassed almost a quarter of the world’s land surface, making it the largest empire in history. As a result of the empire, British influence can be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former colonies such as Canada, Australia, India, and the United States. Queen Elizabeth II remains the head of the Commonwealth of Nations and head of state of each of the Commonwealth realms.
The UK is a developed country, with the fifth (nominal GDP) or sixth (PPP) largest economy in the world. It was the world’s foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries, but the economic cost of two world wars and the decline of its empire in the latter half of the 20th century diminished its leading role in global affairs. The UK nevertheless retains strong economic, cultural, military and political influence and is a nuclear power, with the second or third (depending on method of calculation) highest defense spending in the world. It is a member state of the European Union, holds a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, and is a member of the G8, NATO, WTO and the Commonwealth of Nations.
US citizens traveling to the UK do not need a visa to travel to the UK. Detailed information regarding visa requirements and immigration to the UK can be found by following the link below.