The history of the United Kingdom stretches back thousands of years, but its modern history begins in the early 17th century. During this time, England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland were all separate kingdoms.
In 1707, the Acts of Union were passed, which united England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain. Wales had been fully incorporated into England in the 16th century.
In 1801, the Act of Union brought Ireland into the fold, creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. However, Irish resistance to British rule grew throughout the 19th century, culminating in the Easter Rising of 1916.
During World War I, the UK and its empire fought alongside France and Russia against Germany and Austria-Hungary. British victory led to the Treaty of Versailles, which established the League of Nations and redrew the map of Europe.
The UK was heavily involved in World War II, fighting against Nazi Germany and its allies. The war brought great changes to the UK, including the establishment of the National Health Service and the welfare state.
In the post-war period, the UK experienced significant social and political changes, such as the decline of the British Empire and the rise of the Labour Party. The UK also became a founding member of NATO and the European Union.
In recent decades, the UK has faced new challenges, including the Scottish independence referendum of 2014 and the Brexit vote of 2016. The country continues to be a major player in global affairs and a leader in science, technology, and the arts.