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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the formal name of the sovereign state governed by Parliament in London.
The term "United Kingdom" normally is understood to include Northern Ireland; the term "Great Britain" refers to the island of Britain and its constituent nations of England, Wales, and Scotland but does not include Northern Ireland.
Although the language has been modified by a gradual convergence toward "estuary English" a less formal variety of southeastern speech, and educational and socioeconomic factors, it is possible to determine people's geographical origins by the way they speak.
In some areas, there are significant differences in speech patterns from one city or county to its neighbor.
Similarly, Scottish and Welsh people have settled in England.
Most British people have ancestries that are mixtures of the four nationalities of the British Isles.
These differences are associated with loyalties to one's place of birth or residence and for many people are important aspects of self-identity; non-English native languages are little spoken but in recent years have gained significance as cultural and political symbols.
Although the country lies mostly at the latitude of Labrador in the western Atlantic, the climate is tempered by the Gulf Stream and does not have extremes of summer heat or winter cold.
After 1169, the island of Ireland came under British influence, and it became a colonial dependency in 1690.
The British and Irish parliaments were united in 1801.
People in the Northern Isles are bilingual in English and an unwritten creolized form of Old Norse; in the Channel Islands, the Norman French patois is nearly extinct; and in Cornwall, there are no natural speakers of Cornish, although the language has been reconstructed.
In Northern Ireland, the Irish language has been reintroduced as a means of revitalizing Celtic pride among Belfast Catholics. Symbolic attachment may reinforce localism or take the form of personal commitments that extend across socioeconomic strata.