United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is made of the following countries:

  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales

Click on the relevant map below to find out more about each country.

England

England

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Scotland

Scotland

Wales

Wales

Where is the United Kingdom?

Europe and UK

Europe and UK

The United Kingdom is located in the north-west of the mainland Europe. The United Kingdom is an island country that spans Great Britain, northern part of Ireland and numerous small islands.

The United Kingdom area is 244,820 sq km (94,526 sq mi) of which 1.3% is water (rivers, lakes)

The only land border that the United Kingdom has is with Republic of Ireland.

Capital of the United Kingdom is London.

 

What countries belong to the United Kingdom?

Countries of the United Kingdom

Countries of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is made of the following countries:

  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales

Each of these countries have their own government and their own capital.

Locations and capitals are displayed on the map.

In the table below you can find important dates of the formation of the United Kingdom.

 

Timeline of formation of the United Kingdom
1282
England conquests Wales
1535 Wales incorporated into England bythe Laws in Wales Acts
1707
Kingdom of Scotland and Kingdom of England (including Wales) forms a political union: Kingdom of Great Britain
1800
Kingdom of Ireland merges with Great Britain
1922
Ireland seeks independence and separates from the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland remains with the Great Britain.
1927
Name of the UK is changed to its current name: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The United Kingdom or Great Britain?

The United Kingdom and Great Britain

The United Kingdom and Great Britain

Surprising number of people are still confusing terms United Kingdom and Great Britain. Some think that these both mean the same thing. This is not true, you can see the difference in the following image where both are compared.

Great Britain is made of England, Scotland and Wales.

United Kingdom is made of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Is Great Britain the same as Britain? No, Britain is England and Wales only. This name comes from the times when Romains ruled the land.

Look at the table below that may help memorising these terms.

Names
Britain
England and Wales
Great Britain Britain and Scotland (England, Scotland and Wales)
United Kingdom Great Britain and Northern Ireland (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales)

Interesting geographical facts

UK Geographical facts

UK Geographical facts

United Kingdom is surrounded by the following waters:

  • Atlantic Ocean in the north-west and south-west
  • North Sea in the south
  • English Channel in the south
  • Irish Sea in the west

Some interesting geograhical facts about United Kingdom:

  • Lough Neagh

Is the largest lake in the UK. It is located in Northern Ireland and has area of 392 sq kilometres. It is approximatelly 20 miles long and 9 miles wide.

Compare it to the largest lake in the world: Lake Baikal, which is 395 miles long, 49 miles wide and has area of 31,414 sq km.

  • Ben Nevis

Is the highest mountain in the UK. It is 1,344 metres tall.

Compare it to the largest mountain in the world: Mount Everestwhich is 8,848 metres tall.

  • River Severn

Longest river in the UK. Raises in Cambrian Mountains, Wales and then discharges into Bristol Channel. It is 220 miles long.

Compare it to the longest river in the world: River Nile, which is 4,135 miles long.

  • Galloway Forest

Is the largest forest in the UK. It covers 780 sq kilometres.

Compare it to the largest forest in the world:Amazon rainforest which is 9.5 million sq kilometres.

Who is in charge?

As the name suggests, the United Kingdom is a monarchy, therefore there are two leaders:

  • Head of state
  • Prime minister

They share responsibilities for ruling and representing the kingdom and countries that form it.

Head of state

The Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state. Elizabeth II became queen of the United Kingdom in 1952. The Queen is no longer responsible for governing the country, but she carries a great many important tasks on behalf of the nation.

As a head of the state the Queen is going on official visits abroad, she also invites leaders of other countries.

Elizabeth II is also the Head of the Armed forces and is the only person who decides whether the country is at war. This action needs to be coordinated with the government.

The Queen is also the Head of the Church of England, she appoints archbishops and bishops.

Prime minister

David Cameron

David Cameron

The Prime Minister is the head of the UK Government and is ultimately responsible for the policy and decisions of Government.

Currently the Prime Minister in the United Kingdom is David Cameron, who has been appointed by the general election on 11th May 2010. He will remain in this role for the whole parliamentary term, which can last maximum 5 years. Often this term is reduced at the discretion of the Prime Minister, at which point a new general election takes place.

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