Introduction

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or more commonly known as just "the UK," is a sovereign state that can be found on the northwestern coast of Europe. It is an island country that is spread over an archipelago that includes Great Britain and the northeastern part of Ireland as well as many other islands. Northern Ireland is part of the UK while the other half is the Republic of Ireland. Aside from this country, UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, North Sea, Irish Sea, and the English Channel.

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and a unitary state that consists of the countries of England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. It is a parliamentary system with its seat of government residing in London, its capital. However, there are three other devolved national administrations in Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.

People

In 2001, the overall population of UK was roughly 58 million, which was the third largest population in Europe and the twenty-first largest in the entire world. But by 2007, the total population was said to have grown to about 60 million. During the same year, England itself had a mid-year population of 51.1 million. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with 637 people per square mile.

The capital city of London, England with a population of over eight and a half million people dwarfs other major cities of the UK. Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh come in second and third with populations of just over half a million and 450,000, respectively. Sunderland with 290,000 and Middlesbrough at 143,000 are other cities in England.

Geography

UK has a total land area of around 94,600 square miles made up of the island of Great Britain and part of Northern Ireland. It can be located between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It can be found between the latitudes 49 and 59 degrees due north and longitudes 8 degrees west to 2 degrees east. The Royal Greenwich Observatory, which can be found in London, is also the place where the Prime Meridian was defined.

The country has a temperate climate with a lot of rainfall throughout the year. Even though the temperature fluctuates, it rarely exceeds anything colder than 14 degrees Fahrenheit nor does it usually rise over 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

History

The Kingdom of Great Britain was created on May 1, 1707 through the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland. This was the result of the Treaty of Union that was established one year before and was ratified by the Parliament of both countries. Nearly a century later, the Kingdom of Ireland merged with the Kingdom of Great Britain, thus creating the United Kingdom under the establishment of the Act of Union 1800.

During the first century, the UK was a significant factor in the development of Western ideas regarding the concept of the parliamentary system. After Napoleon's defeat, the UK reigned as the principal naval power during that time in the 19th century up to the mid-20th century. After the election victory of Sinn Féin in 1918, a war of independence in Ireland followed, resulting in the division of the island in 1921. This was followed by the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, with the northern part of the island remaining to be part of the UK. In 1927, the formal name of the country was changed to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to reflect these changes.

Famous Attractions

If you are planning to go on a tour of the UK, then the very first place that you should visit would have to be Buckingham Palace in London. It is a great symbolic place for the British and is open to visitors during the months of August and September as the Queen makes her yearly visit to Balmoral.

The state rooms house a few of the royal family's most prized possessions, such as paintings by famous artists like Rembrandt, Poussin, Canaletto, and Rubens, to name a few. They are furnished well with the best French and English furniture.

Another good place that is a sure tourist attraction would have to be the Alton Towers Theme Park in Staffordshire. It is home to the UK's most popular roller coasters including "The Nemesis," which is Europe's first inverted roller coaster, "Oblivion," which is the world's first roller coaster with a vertical drop, "Air," "Corkscrew" and Rita — Queen of Speed."

Nightlife

By night, the Royal Albert Hall is open and is a national institution for the science, culture, and the academics. It also hosts a big number of operatic performances.

But if you are more of a party person, then there are a lot of choices in Shrewsbury with a myriad of clubs, bars, and pubs to choose from. There are also restaurants all over the town if you ever find yourself hungry. For quiet family drinks, you can try the Boathouse near Port Hill. It has a stunning view which is breathtaking.

Culture

The culture that can be found in the UK — primarily British culture — is a combination of four countries' cultures that still maintain a distinct and unique tradition for themselves. Also, because of the British Empire, it has assimilated the cultures of its previous colonies like Australia, India, Canada, and the United States.

When it comes to literature and the arts, UK has been a leading country with William Shakespeare as its most notable literary figure. Other great writers are Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Malory, Sir Thomas More, and John Milton. Of course, one must also remember the more recent Harry Potter series penned by J.K. Rowling.

Cuisine

Cuisine in the country is generally called British Cuisine, which are traditionally unfussy dishes made from local ingredients. However because of the British Empire, it has also been influenced by the countries it once colonized such as India.

Tea and scones are a usual afternoon snack, while fish and chips can be bought almost anywhere as they are one of the most popular British foods. Yorkshire pudding that goes well with roast meat is also a common food served in UK households. Welsh cakes and other dessert items are also good in the UK.