The history of the United Kingdom dates back to prehistoric times, with evidence of early human settlement dating to around 800,000 years ago. The area of the UK has been inhabited by various tribes and peoples throughout its early history, including the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings.
The United Kingdom, as we know it today, was formed in 1707 with the union of England and Scotland under the Act of Union. Wales was officially included in the UK in 1536, while Northern Ireland became part of the UK when Ireland was partitioned in 1921.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the UK established itself as a global power through its imperial conquests and colonization. The British Empire at its height spanned a quarter of the world’s total land area.
The UK played a major role in World War I and II, and emerged as a key player on the world stage in the post-war years. The country underwent a period of social and economic change in the second half of the 20th century, with the introduction of the National Health Service, the welfare state, and other reforms.
Today, the UK is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy and is comprised of four distinct nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The country has a rich cultural heritage, and is home to world-renowned institutions such as the British Museum, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the National Gallery.