The United Kingdom is a monarchical (君主政体的) State. It is one of the independent members of the Commonwealth (the Queen is recognized as head of the Commonwealth), and a member of the European Community.
The origins and traditions of the United Kingdom are to be found in each of the four parts that make up the country: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. England was united as a kingdom a thousand years ago, and Wales became part of the kingdom during the middle ages. The thrones (王位) of England and Scotland were united in 1603, and in 1707 legislation passed in the two countries provided for the establishment of a single Parliament of Great Britain with supreme authority both in England and Wales and in Scotland. Ireland had had links with the kingdom of England since the thirteenth century, and in 1800 the creation of the United Kingdom was completed by a union joining the Irish Parliament to that of Great Britain. In 1922 Southern Ireland (now the Irish Republic) became a self-governing country. The six counties of Northern Ireland had in 1920 been given their own subordinate Parliament, and voted to remain within the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster in London — with an elected chamber comprising members from English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland constituencies (选举区) — therefore represents people sharing very varied backgrounds and traditions. It has ultimate authority for government and law-making, but administrative arrangements have developed in such a way as to take account of the particular needs of different areas.
England and Wales on the one hand and Scotland on the other have different systems of law, different court systems, different education systems, different systems of local government and, for most domestic matters, different government departments.