United Kingdom Country Facts

United Kingdom
Capital city London
Surface 244,820 km²
Population 63,705,000
Road network length 398,350 km
Length of highway network 6,205 km
First highway 1958
Motorway name Motorway
Traffic drives Left
License plate code UK GB

The United Kingdom is a country in Western Europe. The country is located on a number of islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The country is almost 6 times the size of the Netherlands and has more than 63 million inhabitants. The capital is London.


The United Kingdom is mainly located on the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as numerous smaller islands around them. In addition, there are overseas territories around the world. The British Isles lie off the coast of Western Europe, with the North Sea to the east, the Channel to the south, the Irish Sea to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the northwest. The only land border in the British Isles is between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The overseas territory of Gibraltar has a land border with Spain. On the other side of the Channel is France. The overseas territories of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are located in Cyprus.

The British Isles consist of lowlands, hills and mountain areas. In general, the east coast of England is fairly flat and the northwest is more mountainous, with the 978m Scafell Pike in the Lake District being the highest point. The mountain areas look more Alpine than the height suggests, large parts are above the tree line. Wales is largely mountainous, with the 1,085m Snowdon being the highest point. The landscape in Wales is more rugged than the height suggests, the mountains are more reminiscent of the Alps than, for example, the low mountain ranges in Germany. Scotland is the most mountainous, with the 1,344 meter high Ben Nevis being the highest point in Scotland and the British Isles. Northern Ireland is less mountainous, most of it is sloping to slightly hilly with a few higher ridges scattered around,

There are numerous archipelagos off the Scottish coast, the most famous of which are the Hebrides and the Orkneys. Further northeast of Scotland are the Shetland Islands, almost halfway between Scotland and Norway. Even further off Scotland’s northwest coast is St Kilda, a series of small mountainous islands in the Atlantic Ocean. These archipelagos are isolated and relatively inaccessible. West of Cornwall are the Isles of Scilly, another small group of islands.

The United Kingdom has a humid maritime climate with frequent precipitation and a dominant western circulation, particularly northwestern Scotland is known for being rainy. In general, the east of the British Isles is drier than the west. A cooler climate prevails in the mountains, with an almost Alpine climate on the highest peaks. The average maximum temperature in London ranges from 8°C in winter to 23°C in summer. In London there is 600 mm of precipitation, which is less than the Netherlands. More than 1,200 mm falls in Glasgow. Snow falls frequently in winter, especially in the higher areas, but usually does not last long in the lowlands. In the higher mountain areas there is snow for a long time in winter.

Administrative division

The Locations of the British Overseas Territories: A Isle of Man; B Guernsey; C Jersey; 1 United Kingdom; 2 Gibraltar; 3 Akrotiri and Dhekelia; 4 Bermuda; 5 Turks and Caicos Islands; 6 British Virgin Islands; 7 Anguilla; 8 Cayman Islands; 9 Montserrat; 10 Pitcairn Islands; 11 Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; 12 British Indian Ocean Territory; 13 Falkland Islands; 14South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; (15) British Antarctic Territory.

The United Kingdom is made up of four countries; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England is the only one of the four countries that does not have its own parliament, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do. England is thus directly governed by the national parliament of the United Kingdom.

Within the countries of the United Kingdom, the second tier of government is the counties (old-fashioned: a County), called a shire in Scotland. The further structure of local government in England is complex and varies per area. Most of the area in England is made up of Non-metropolitan districts, which consist of two types, a Unitary Authority and a Two-Tier district, comprising both a county council and a district council. In addition, there are Metropolitan boroughs, which are larger urban areas, but not in London, which consists of several London Boroughs.

Scotland and Northern Ireland are divided into councils, Wales into unitary authorities. There are also territories that do not belong to the United Kingdom, but over which the United Kingdom has sovereignty. Of these, 14 are British Overseas Territories and 3 are British Crown-owned.

The 14 overseas territories are Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Antarctic Territory, the British Indian Ocean Territory, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Pitcairn Islands; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus. The Overseas Territories have a combined area of ​​1,727,570 km², considerably larger than the United Kingdom, but by far the largest part of the area is the British claim to AntarcticaWithout British Antarctica, the overseas territories have an area of ​​only 18,170 km², and are home to 260,000 people. The British Crown Estate consists of three islands, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.


The United Kingdom is the most populous country in Europe after Russia, Germany and France with 63 million inhabitants in the 2011 census. England is particularly densely populated, Wales and Scotland are relatively sparsely populated. By far the largest city in the United Kingdom is the capital London, which has almost 10 million inhabitants. This makes it one of the largest cities in Europe. Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow also have a conurbation of more than 1 million inhabitants, although the actual urban population is smaller.

Significant immigration has occurred in the United Kingdom, traditionally mainly from the colonies that were part of the British Empire. By far the largest immigrant groups are Indians and Pakistanis with both over 1 million. The largest ethnic minority are blacks with almost 2 million inhabitants, they come mainly from the Caribbean and Africa. The proportion of ethnic minorities has increased significantly since the 1950s, especially in the large cities. Less than half of London’s residents are white British.

In the United Kingdom, English is the most widely spoken language, about 95% of residents speak it as their mother tongue, many immigrant groups also speak English as their mother tongue. In England, Polish is the second language due to large numbers of migrant workers. Celtic languages ​​are also spoken as a minority language, such as Welsh in Wales, Scots in Scotland and Irish in Northern Ireland. Of the Celtic languages, only Welsh is more widely spoken, in Wales 19% of the population speaks Welsh. However, Irish is spoken by very few people in Northern Ireland. Scottish Gaelic is only sporadically spoken in rural Scotland.


The United Kingdom is the 5th largest economy in the world and the second largest in Europe. The capital London is one of the most important financial centers in the world. Today, the service sector plays a dominant role in the UK economy. The level of wealth in the country is high, with purchasing power of approximately $45,000 per capita. In the United Kingdom you pay with the Pound Sterling (GBP). Scotland and Northern Ireland issue their own banknotes which are not accepted in England but represent the same denomination. The United Kingdom had been a member of the European Union since 1973 but voted in 2016 in a referendum to leave, dubbed “Brexit”, which became final on January 31, 2020.

The Industrial Revolution began in England in the period 1760-1820. This made the United Kingdom the most important country in the world in the late 18th century. The industrial revolution was initially focused on textiles, later shipbuilding, mining and steel followed. The manufacturing industry was of great importance in the 19th and early 20th centuries but gradually lost its share of the British economy. Major industrial sectors today are aerospace, pharmaceuticals and automotive. The energy sector also plays a major role, with oil and gas extraction in the North Sea. BP and Shell are two of the largest oil companies in the world. The United Kingdom’s oil reserves are the largest in Western Europe.


The present country emerged in stages in the 18th and 19th centuries. As early as the Middle Ages, Wales was conquered by the Kingdom of England. In 1707 England and Scotland formed a union, in 1801 a union of Great Britain and Ireland followed. Most of Ireland seceded in 1922, creating the present country borders.

Throughout history, the British Empire continued to expand around the world. This started with English trading posts between the 16th and 18th centuries. At the beginning of the 20th century, the British Empire reached its largest area, with 35.5 million km², 24% of the land area and 23% of the world’s population. Following the example of Spain and France, the English founded colonies, the most important of which were what would later become the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, these countries are still strongly British-based. However, the British Empire also included South Asia, the so-called British Raj in what is now India, Pakistan, Bangladeshand Myanmar (Burma). There were also long-standing colonies in Africa and other parts of Asia. The only long-standing colony on the South American continent was Guyana. On the European mainland, however, the British established few colonies, only a few islands in the Mediterranean Sea and Gibraltar have been under British rule or still are today.


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