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Lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland, it includes the island of Great Britain (the name of which is also loosely applied to the whole country), the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands.Apart from this land border, the UK 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.
It has been a leading member state of the EU and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), since 1973.
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.
The term Britain is often used as synonym for the United Kingdom.
Additionally, the United Kingdom's Olympic team competes under the name "Great Britain" or "Team GB".
The adjective British is commonly used to refer to matters relating to the United Kingdom.
The Acts of Union 1800 united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.