United Kingdom

Travel guide

                                             United Kingdom   Great Britain

                                                Bournemouth on the south coast of the UK Bournemouth

The quick travel guide to the United Kingdom and London


The United Kingdom is an island nation located off the northwest coast of continental Europe. The United Kingdom (UK) is a union of four neighbouring countries; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In geographic terms the UK consists of the mainland island, the north eastern corner of Ireland and around 3000 islands which stretch for over a thousand miles to the north. Around 250 of the islands are inhabited.   

The territory of the UK covers 243,368 sq km and has a population of around 62 million. The UK only has one land border and that is with Ireland the rest of the country is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to the west, the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south.

The official language of the UK is English but it also recognises a number of regional languages; these are Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Cornish. The currency is the pound sterling (1 pound = 100 pence). The UK is not part of the Schengen Agreement (open borders) but cooperates with other countries in the agreement; it has its own border controls.


Great Britain is made up of England, Scotland and Wales. Scotland's population is 5.17 million, Wales has 2.99 million and Northern Ireland at 1.78 million. The capital of the UK is London which has a population of around 7 million. Other regional capitals are; Edinburgh with a population of 478,000, Cardiff has 325,000 citizens and Belfast, 268,000. The other major cities in the UK are - Birmingham with a population of 970,892,  Glasgow with 629,501, Liverpool with 469,000, Leeds with 443,000. 

When measured directly north-south, Great Britain is a little over 1,100 kilometres (700 mi) in length and is a fraction under 500 kilometres (300 mi) at its widest, but the greatest distance between two points is 1,350 kilometres (840 mi) between Land's End in Cornwall (near Penzance) and John o' Groats in Caithness (near Thurso). However if the islands are taken into account the greatest distance is around 1100 miles from the Channel Islands in the south to the north of the Shetland Islands. Northern Ireland shares a 360-kilometre (224 mi) land boundary with the Republic of Ireland. The UK has a long coastline, relative to its area, of around 7,000 miles due to the large number of islands. 

The United Kingdom has a temperate climate, with plentiful rainfall all year round - which makes for the green and pleasant land, of the poem! The temperature varies with the seasons but seldom drops below -10 C or rises above 32 C. The prevailing wind is from the southwest, bearing frequent spells of mild and wet weather from the Atlantic Ocean. Eastern parts are most sheltered from this wind and are therefore the driest. Atlantic currents, warmed by the Gulf Stream, bring mild winters, especially in the west, where winters are wet, especially over high ground. Summers are warmest in the south east of England, being closest to the European mainland, and coolest in the north. Snowfall can occur in winter and early spring, though it rarely settles to great depth away from high ground.

Tourism is very important to the British economy. With over 27 million tourists arriving in 2004, the United Kingdom is ranked as the sixth major tourist destination in the world. London, by a considerable margin, is the most visited city in the world with 15.6 million visitors in 2006. Major tourist destinations in the UK include numerous seaside resorts, very many heritage sites, such as castles and ancient buildings, gardens, museums and art galleries, the countryside and historic cities such as Cambridge and Stratford upon Avon.


Location Map of the United Kingdom

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