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United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland

The United Kingdom is a unified nation composed of the three countries of Great Britain-England, Wales, and Scotland-along with Northern Ireland. Separate from the kingdom but administered by the British Crown are several minor islands and a number of small overseas dependencies. More than three-quarters of the approximately 60 million citizens of the United Kingdom live in England, and London, the capital, is the largest city. Formerly the world’s largest empire, the United Kingdom leads a political organization known as the Commonwealth of Nations through which it remains associated with some 50 of its former colonies, many of which have retained the British monarch as their head of state. One former possession that is not a member of the Commonwealth is the republic of Ireland, or Eire, an independent state occupying the major portion of an island to the immediate west of Great Britain; it has a population of about 3.5 million.