The United Kingdom, also known as Great Britain, is a sovereign state located in Western Europe. Its history stretches back thousands of years, with the first humans arriving on the British Isles around 800,000 BCE.
The earliest known inhabitants of the area were the Celts, who arrived around 500 BCE and were the dominant force until the Roman Empire invaded in 43 CE. The Romans occupied Britain for nearly 400 years, leaving behind a legacy of roads, walls, and buildings.
After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes known as the Anglo-Saxons invaded and settled in Britain, gradually pushing the Celts to the fringes of the island. In 1066, the Normans, led by William the Conqueror, invaded and conquered England, bringing with them a new language, culture, and systems of government.
In the centuries that followed, England became a dominant power in Europe, colonizing much of the world and establishing the British Empire. It also underwent a series of political and social changes, including the Magna Carta of 1215, the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1707, England united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, which later united with Ireland and became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. Ireland subsequently gained independence in 1922, but Northern Ireland remained a part of the UK.
The UK has played a significant role in many major events in modern history, including both World Wars, the Cold War, and the European Union. Today, it remains a constitutional monarchy with a democratic government and a rich cultural heritage.