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
|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
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
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.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State
Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > United Kingdom > Map Economy History