Scotland and England were separate unified entities since the 10th century. Wales became part of the Kingdom of England by the Act of Union 1536. The Act of Union 1707 led to a permanent union as the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The United Kingdom, the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, played a leading role in developing Western ideas of property, liberty, capitalism, parliamentary democracy, world literature and science. The British Empire, at its zenith, stretched over one quarter of the earth’s surface. UK’s strength was seriously depleted in the two World Wars but sustained government policies and patriotic spirit allowed UK to rebuild itself into a modern and prosperous nation.
The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and NATO and a permanent member of the UN Security Council and holds veto power. It is one of the fewer than ten nuclear powers.