The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom or Britain, is a sovereign country in north-western Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland.
The United Kingdom comprises the whole of the island of Great Britain.
It is the largest island in Europe and 8th largest in the world. It is surrounded by over one thousand smaller islands and islets within the Atlantic Ocean, North Sea, Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, and the English Channel.
The total area of the United Kingdom is about 245,000 square kilometers (94,500 square miles). It is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon/USA and slightly bigger than Ghana.
The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively.
Other major cities include Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester.
The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952.
Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers.
The union between the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, followed by the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of
Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland. The UK’s name was adopted in 1927 to reflect the change.
The name “Britain” originates from the Common Brittonic term *Pritanī and is one of the oldest known names for Great Britain, an island off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The terms Briton and British, similarly derived, refer to its inhabitants and, to varying extents, the smaller islands in the vicinity. “British Isles” is the only ancient name for these islands to survive in general usage.
The British people are the creation of waves of invaders and migrants, including Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans. In the 1950s and 1960s, people from former colonies in the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia came to the United Kingdom to work.
About 5,000 years ago, the center of the United Kingdom was covered with thick forests. Thousands of years ago, these woodlands were cleared by ancient farmers, and today only about 10 percent of the land is forest.
Much of the north and west of the UK is covered in high ground, knife-edged mountain ridges separated by deep valleys. This terrain was shaped in the last Ice Age, when thick glaciers covered the land.
The largest mammals found in Britain are the red deer and the indigenous roe deer. Smaller mammals like hedgehogs, moles, hares, badgers and otters are very common. As an island nation, the waters around Britain are teeming with marine life including dolphins and orcas, depending on the time of year.
Stonehenge is perhaps the world’s most famous prehistoric monument. It was built in several stages: the first monument was an early henge monument, built about 5,000 years ago, and the unique stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 BC. In the early Bronze Age many burial mounds were built nearby.
The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the United Kingdom and in the English-speaking world. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge.
Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focal point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and mourning.
The British Museum is a public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture. It was the first public national museum in the world. Its permanent collection of some eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence, having been widely collected during the era of the British Empire. It documents the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.
The railway system in Great Britain is the oldest railway system in the world. Great Britain has the world’s 17th largest rail network, at 17,732 km (11,018 mi), despite being just the 78th largest nation by land area.
The Championships, Wimbledon, commonly known as “Wimbledon“, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and is widely considered the most prestigious.
Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in the UK. There are over 100 football clubs across the country.
Well-known traditional British dishes include full breakfast, fish and chips, the Christmas dinner, the Sunday roast, steak and kidney pie, shepherd’s pie, and bangers and mash.
Tea is by far the most popular drink consumed in Britain today, with over 100,000,000 cups being drunk in the UK every single day of the year.
Black Tea is by far the most purchased and consumed type of tea in the UK.
The Penny Black was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system. It was first issued in the United Kingdom, on 1 May 1840, but was not valid for use until 6 May. The stamp features a profile of Queen Victoria.
Pound sterling known in some contexts simply as the pound or sterling, is the official currency of the United Kingdom. It is the oldest currency in continuous use. Some nations that do not use sterling also have currencies called the pound.
Sir Winston Churchill, was a British politician, statesman, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, during the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955.
The BBC’s TV channels don’t display advertisements. This is because they are the public broadcasting operator and are paid by the British citizens.
No location in the UK is further away from the sea than 125 km or 77 miles!