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The adjective "British" is commonly used to refer to matters relating to the United Kingdom.

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A treaty between England and Scotland resulted in 1707 in a unified Kingdom of Great Britain, which merged in 1801 with the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" was adopted.

Although the United Kingdom, as a sovereign state, is a country, England, Scotland, Wales and, to a lesser degree, Northern Ireland, are also regarded as countries, though they are not sovereign states.

Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to its east, the English Channel to its south and the Celtic Sea to its south-south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world.