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About the UK - Information and facts about the UK

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ( UK )

Flag of UK

The UK refers to the union of four separate nations: England ( capital London ) , Scotland ( capital is Edinburgh ), Wales ( capital is Cardiff ) and Northern Ireland also known as Ulster ( capital is Belfast ). The UK part of Europe and is a member of the European Union (EU).

The UK is situated north-west of the European continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It has a total land area of 244,100 square kilometres, of which nearly 99% is land and the remainder inland water. From north to south it is about 1,000 kilometres long.

People in the UK are called British although they have different nationalities.
Population by region:
Scotland 5,119,000
England 49,753,000
Wales 2,937,000
N. Ireland 1,692,000
Top 5 populous cities:
London 7,285,000
Birmingham 1,018,000
Leeds 725,000
Glasgow 611,000
Sheffield 529,000

The Union Flag, popularly known as the Union Jack, symbolises the union of the countries of the UK. The UK is a Constitutional monarchy.

For road maps of the UK see Multimap

For a route planner in the UK see AA.com

England

England NMational Flag

England is in the southern part of the United Kingdom (UK) and the largest country in it. Nearly 84% of the population of the UK lives in England, mainly in the major cities and metropolitan areas. England is only 35 km from France and is now linked by a tunnel under the English Channel. Currency is Pound Sterling The busiest airport: London Heathrow, with 53.8 million passengers.

Most of England consists of rolling hills, but it is more mountainous in the north with a chain of low mountains, the Pennines, dividing east and west. London is by far the largest urban area in England and one of the largest and busiest cities in the world. Birmingham is the second largest. Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, Bristol, Coventry, Bradford, Leicester, Nottingham and Kingston upon Hull.

England has a temperate climate, with plentiful rainfall all year round, though the seasons are quite variable in temperature. It is home to some of the finest mediaeval castles and forts in the world, including Warwick Castle, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle (the largest inhabited castle in the world and the oldest in continuous occupation). It is also known for its numerous grand country houses, and for its many mediaeval and later churches and cathedrals.

National Holidays ( Bank Holidays )

January 1 - New Year's Day
Mar/Apr - Good Friday
Mar/Apr - Easter Monday
First Monday in May - May Day Bank Holiday
Last Monday in May - Spring Bank Holiday
Last Monday in August - Summer Bank Holiday
Dec 25 - Christmas Day
Dec 26 - Boxing Day

Almost all attractions close on Christmas Day. On other holidays some attractions open, often with reduced hours.

Money

Currency is Pounds Sterling. The United Kingdom has not yet joined the Euro but some stores do accept it, and there is a large number of banks and bureau de change outlets in London and elsewhere where you can cash travellers cheques and change currency.

Cash points (ATMs) are widely available You can ask for 'Cashback' when making purchases with a debit card at supermarkets. Visa and Access (Mastercard) widely accepted, other cards often accepted.

Banking hours officially 09:30-15:30, but most banks open usually till about 17:00. Most banks and major post offices will be able to change money for you. And in the larger cities you will find bureau de change offices, usually in places like train stations or travel agencies.

England's weather remains the most frequent topic of conversation. Although England does have a reputation for wet weather all year round, it doesn't rain every day all year around. However it is impossible to guarantee good or bad weather in any given month - so be prepared for anything. Find out more about our weather here.

The summer months are when mosts Brits take their holidays, with schools breaking up for the whole of August. The summer months have the best weather but crowds at tourist attractions tend to peak around June-September.

From March until May spring will have arrived, there is a good chance of fine weather. Some tourist attraction don't open until Easter weekend. June through to September is the peak summer period. Gardens will be in full bloom, the evenings long and the warm days just right for wandering around. October and November are the months when autumn sets in. The leaves on the trees change to all shades of brown and orange. December through to February is the winter period.

Communications:

The traditional red phone boxes are now rare; instead kiosks come in a wide variety of designs and colours. Coin-operated phones take 10p, 20p, 50p and 1 coins, but card-operated phones are often more convenient. British Telecom phone cards are available in most newsagents or grocers. Calls from hotels are expensive. Dialling codes: The UK international dialling code is +44 and the area code for London is (0)20. Internet is available as normal in telephone boxes in London. The photo above shows a blue internet phone box with a red 'normal' phone box behind.

Emergency services:

To contact the police, fire brigade or ambulance service in an emergency, you can dial 999 free of charge from any public or private phone. In case of accident, most major hospitals have 24 hour accident and emergency departments.

Electricity:

The power supply in Britain is 230/240 volts. Sockets accept only three-(square)-pin plugs, so an adapter is needed for continental European and US appliances. A transformer is also needed for appliances operating on 110-120 volts.

Scotland

Scotland NMational Flag

Scotland is a country that occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain. It is part of the United Kingdom and shares a land border to the south with England. It is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest. In addition to the mainland, Scotland consists of over 790 islands of which 130 inhabited.

Scotland is a mountainous country and is famous for its fresh water lochs (lakes) ? there are over 600 square miles of them. One of the most famous is Loch Ness where a mysterious monster is said to lurk in the depths of the water. Its capital city is Edinburgh.

It is also famous for its clans, kilts, medieval castles, as well as poetry and songs of Robert Burns. Edinburgh is the capital and theatre lovers from around the world come to Edinburgh for its famous theatres

Scotlands population is around 5 million mostly living in the major cities of Edinburgh Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow

Scotland has five main international airports (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow Prestwick and Inverness) which together serve 150 international destinations with a wide variety of scheduled and chartered flights.

Regular ferry services operate between the Scottish mainland and island communities. These services are mostly run by Caledonian MacBrayne, but some are operated by local councils. Other ferry routes, served by multiple companies, connect to Northern Ireland, Belgium, Norway, the Faroe Islands and also Iceland.

St. Andrews is known internationally as the Home of Golf and to many golfers the Old Course, an ancient links course dating to before 1574, is considered to be a site of pilgrimage. There are many other famous golf courses in Scotland, including Carnoustie, Gleneagles, Muirfield and Royal Troon. Other distinctive features of the national sporting culture include the Highland games, curling and shinty.

Wales

Wales NMational Flag

Wales is a mountainous country on the western side of Great Britain , and is bordered by England to the east, the Bristol Channel to the south, St George's Channel in the west, and the Irish Sea to the north.

Capital City is Cardiff . Other major cities are Swansea and Newport. The Welsh landscape, protected by three National Parks, and the unique Welsh culture bring in tourism, which is especially vital for rural areas.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland lies in the northeast of the island of Ireland, covering about a sixth of the island's total area. Northern Ireland is the second most sparsely populated part of the UK after Scotland.

The Giant's Causeway, situated on the North East coast of Northern Ireland, is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. Most of the basalt columns are hexagonal in shape.

Famous Irish breweries include Guinness, Smithwicks (Kilkenny), and Harp Lager. Population in 2001 was 1,685,000, mostly living in the Capital , Belfast , and other major cities of Londonderry, Lisburn, Newtonabbey, Bangor, Craigavon.



See UK Landscape Photographs for photographs from around the UK




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