It is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which has a land border with the Republic of Ireland. The national languages are English and Welsh. Britain also has several Crown dependencies and overseas territories, including Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. Britain is the world’s sixth largest economy and has a permanent seat on the United Nations’ Security Council.
In recent decades, British politics has undergone repeated transformations. The election of a centre-right Conservative Government led by Margaret Thatcher in 1979 started a process of reform marked by the privatisation of many state industries and the rapid decline of the trade union movement. In 1990, Thatcher was replaced as Prime Minister by John Major who continued the same broad programme.
After 18 years of Conservative power, a centre-left Labour Government, led by Tony Blair, was elected in 1997. Labour came to power pledgin