Parliament and Big Ben

United Kingdom : Constitution and politics

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) is an island country that sits north-west of mainland Europe. It is made up of mainland Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) and the northern part of the island of Ireland (Northern Ireland). It has numerous smaller islands. The UK is low lying in the east. It has mountains in the north of England, in Scotland, in Northern Ireland and in Wales.

Key facts

  • Region: Europe
  • Population: 66 million (2018)
  • Area: 242,500 square kilometres
  • Capital: London
  • Joined Commonwealth: 1926, on founding the British Commonwealth of Nations
  • Commonwealth Youth Index: 2 out of 49 countries

Secretariat support for the United Kingdom

Human rights

In 2018, the Secretariat partnered with the United Kingdom to improve the engagement of member states with the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. The Secretariat and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the Commonwealth Small States Office.


The Secretariat is helping heads of colleges and universities in the UK build youth workers’ skills. It has made youth work qualifications available, including a youth work degree, and is supporting short courses.


The Secretariat partnered with the UK to create indicators and tools to measure the contribution of sport and physical education to sustainable development.

Blue Charter

The UK co-champions the Action Group on tackling marine plastic pollution – the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA), with Vanuatu. The UK and Vanuatu have so far rallied 27 member states to join the Action Group.

The UK is also a member of the Coral Reef Protection and Restoration, Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods, Marine Protected Areas, Ocean Acidification and Ocean and Climate Change Action Groups.

Connectivity Agenda

The UK is a member of the Physical, Digital and Regulatory Connectivity clusters of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda. The Connectivity Agenda is a platform for countries to exchange best practices and experiences to trade and investment and undertake domestic reform.

United Kingdom in the Commonwealth

Queen Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth and Head of State of 16 Commonwealth countries.

In London, the UK hosts the HQ of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth Foundation, Association of Commonwealth Universities, Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Commonwealth Games Federation, Commonwealth Local Government Forum and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Scholarships and fellowships are awarded by the UK to citizens of other Commonwealth countries under the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.

Three Britons have won the overall Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and four have won the Best First Book award.

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