The UAE's borders stretch from Saudi Arabia in the west and south, to Oman in the east and north.
The late Sheikh Zayed stands just to the right of the flagpole at the Union House in Dubai on National Day, December 2, 1971. Courtesy Al Ittihad
The Omani peninsula of Musandam and its picturesque fjords are just across the northern border.
From 1892 the seven states today known as United Arab Emirates were a British protectorate known as the Trucial States.
The protectorate officially ended on December 1, 1971. The following day Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding President of the UAE and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi at the time, met with the leaders of Ajman, Dubai, Fuijairah, Sharjah and Umm al Quwain, and the United Arab Emirates was formed.
Ras al Khaimah joined two months later, creating the seven-emirate structure that exists today.
National Day is celebrated on December 2 each year and is a public holiday.