United Kingdom Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > United Kingdom > Map Economy History

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Campaign for National Parks Information about the National Parks of England and Wales
Natural England Comprehensive information about the reserves, parks, trails, and greenways of England
Naturenet Countryside Management & Nature Conservation in the UK
WWF United Kingdom The World Wide Fund For Nature in the United Kingdom

Facts About the United Kingdom

Background: Great Britain, the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the earth's surface. The first half of the 20th century saw the UK's strength seriously depleted in two World Wars. The second half witnessed the dismantling of the Empire and the UK rebuilding itself into a modern and prosperous European nation. As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a founding member of NATO, and of the Commonwealth, the UK pursues a global approach to foreign policy; it currently is weighing the degree of its integration with continental Europe. A member of the EU, it chose to remain outside of the European Monetary Union for the time being. Constitutional reform is also a significant issue in the UK. Regional assemblies with varying degrees of power opened in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 1999.
Government type: constitutional monarchy
Capital: London
Currency: 1 British pound = 100 pence

Geography of the United Kingdom

Location: Western Europe, islands including the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, northwest of France
Geographic coordinates: 54 00 N, 2 00 W
Area:
total: 244,820 sq km
land: 241,590 sq km
water: 3,230 sq km
note: includes Rockall and Shetland Islands
Land boundaries:
total: 360 km
border countries: Ireland 360 km
Coastline: 12,429 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: as defined in continental shelf orders or in accordance with agreed upon boundaries
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast
Terrain: mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Fenland -4 m
highest point: Ben Nevis 1,343 m
Natural resources: coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, silica, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 25%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 46%
forests and woodland: 10%
other: 19% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,080 sq km (1993 est.)
Environment - current issues: continues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (has meet Kyoto Protocol target of a 12.5% reduction from 1990 levels and hopes to reduce even more); small particulate emissions, largely from vehicular traffic, remain a problem; solid waste continues to rise and recycling is very limited.
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified:  Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: lies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from France and now linked by tunnel under the English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters

People of the United Kingdom

In 1999, the United Kingdom's population was estimated at over 59 million-- the third-largest in Europe and the 18th-largest in the world. Its overall population density is one of the highest in the world. Almost one-third of the population lives in England's prosperous and fertile southeast and is predominantly urban and suburban--with approximately 7.1 million in the capital of London. The UK's high literacy rate (99%) is attributable to universal public education introduced for the primary level in 1870 and secondary level in 1900. Education is mandatory from ages 5 through 16. Approximately one-fifth of British students go on to post-secondary education. The Church of England and the Church of Scotland are the official churches in their respective parts of the country, but most religions found in the world are represented in the UK.

A group of islands close to continental Europe, the British Isles have been subject to many invasions and migrations, especially from Scandinavia and the continent, including Roman occupation for several centuries. Contemporary Britons are descended mainly from the varied ethnic stocks that settled there before the 11th century. The pre-Celtic, Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Norse influences were blended in Britain under the Normans, Scandinavian Vikings who had lived in Northern France. Although Celtic languages persist in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the predominant language is English, which is primarily a blend of Anglo-Saxon and Norman French.

Population: 60,441,457 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  18.89%
15-64 years:  65.41%
65 years and over:  15.7% 
Population growth rate: 0.23% 
Birth rate: 11.54 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 10.35 deaths/1,000 population
Net migration rate: 1.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population
Infant mortality rate: 5.54 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  77.82 years
male:  75.13 years
female:  80.66 years 
Total fertility rate: 1.73 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Briton(s), British (collective plural)
adjective: British
Ethnic groups: English 81.5%, Scottish 9.6%, Irish 2.4%, Welsh 1.9%, Ulster 1.8%, West Indian, Indian, Pakistani, and other 2.8%
Religions: Anglican 27 million, Roman Catholic 9 million, Muslim 1 million, Presbyterian 800,000, Methodist 760,000, Sikh 400,000, Hindu 350,000, Jewish 300,000 (1991 est.)
Languages: English, Welsh (about 26% of the population of Wales), Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland)
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over has completed five or more years of schooling
total population: 99% (1978 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > United Kingdom > Map Economy History