Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental
Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles. With a population of
about 61.0 million people in
mid-2009, it is the third most populous island on Earth. Great Britain is surrounded by over
1,000 smaller islands and islets. The island of Ireland lies to its west. Politically, Great Britain may also refer to the island itself together with a number of surrounding islands which comprise the territory of England,
All of the island is territory of the sovereign state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland, and most of the United Kingdom's territory is in Great Britain. Most of England,
are on the island of Great Britain, as are their respective capital cities: London,
The Kingdom of Great Britain resulted from the political union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland with the Acts of Union 1707 on 1 May 1707 under Queen Anne. In 1801, under a new Act of Union, this kingdom merged with the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. After the Irish War of Independence most of Ireland
seceded from the Union, which then became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
The island has a relatively small variety of fauna and flora, due to its size and the fact that wildlife has had little time to develop since the last ice age. The high level of urbanisation on the island has contributed to a species extinction rate that is about 100 times greater than the background species extinction rate.
The United Kingdom has sovereignty over seventeen territories which do not form part of the United Kingdom itself: 14 British Overseas
Territories and three Crown Dependencies.
The fourteen British Overseas Territories are: Anguilla; Bermuda; the British Antarctic Territory; the British Indian Ocean Territory; the British Virgin Islands; the Cayman Islands; the Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; the Turks and Caicos Islands; the Pitcairn Islands; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; and the Sovereign Base Areas on
Cyprus. British claims in Antarctica are not universally recognised. Collectively Britain's overseas territories encompass an approximate land area of 667,018 square miles (1,727,570 km2) and a population of approximately 260,000
people. They are the remnants of the British Empire and several have specifically voted to remain British territories.