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Geography and Landscape


Great Britain and Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (officially: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; abbreviation: UK), is formed by an island group in northwestern Europe.

The United Kingdom includes the former kingdoms of England and Scotland and the former Principality of Wales, all located on the island of Great Britain. Northern Ireland therefore also belongs to the United Kingdom, but is located on the island of Ireland. There are also a number of well-known and lesser known islands (groups) including: the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands in the north, the Hebrides in the west, Anglesey and Man in the Irish Sea, Wight and the Channel Islands in the Channel.

The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of the United Kingdom under constitutional law, but fall directly under the British Crown. European Union legislation does not generally apply to these islands either.

To complicate matters further, when the British islands are referred to in literature or in the media, they mean Great Britain and Ireland.

United Kingdom Satellite photo: NASAUnited Kingdom SatellitePhoto: NASA in the public domain

The total area of England is 130,422 km2, which is 54% of the area of the United Kingdom (Scotland 78,800 km2, Wales 20,800 km2, Northern Ireland 14,100 km2). England is therefore about three times the size of the Netherlands. The area of the United Kingdom is 244,122 km2. The United Kingdom is therefore almost 6 times the size of the Netherlands.

England is located northwest of the European mainland and close to France; only 35.4 km separates the coast of England (Dover) from that of France (Calais) via the Strait of Dover.

England forms the southern part of Great Britain, borders Scotland to the north, Wales to the west, the North Sea to the east and the Channel to the south.

East of England is separated by the North Sea from Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern Germany. Ireland and England are separated by the Irish Sea.

The total coastline of England is 1851 km and no place is more than 121 km from the sea.

England also includes the Channel Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Shark, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, and the Isles of Scilly, including St. Mary's.


Landscape Nottingham EnglandLandscape Nottingham EnglandPhoto: Shamraze/Nuhaize (CC BY 2.0) no changes made

England used to be largely covered with forests. Not much is left of that, except for a few wooded areas such as the New Forest near Southampton and Sherwood Forest near Nottingham.

England's coastal landscape is very varied, from pebble beaches and chalk cliffs in Sussex to extensive sandy beaches in the north of Norfolk. The southwest has white sandy beaches where popular seaside resorts such as Brighton and Blackpool.

Great Britain can be roughly divided into Upland Britain with high plains and mountains and in Lowland Britain with low plains and open fields. England is generally dominated by lowlands. Higher elevations are the Pennine Mountains (up to 640 meters), the Yorkshire Marshes (up to 450 meters), the Cumbria Mountains (up to 1000 meters) and Cornwall (up to 620 meters).


South East England or the "London countryside" has a varied relief with many trees, forests and parks. The Greater London Basin is surrounded by chalk hills: the Chiltern Hills to the northwest, the North Downs to the south, and the South Downs flowing into gigantic chalk cliffs.

More to the east is the funnel mouth of the Thames with several small bays and creeks on either side.

Lands End Cornwall EnglandLands End Cornwall EnglandPhoto: Kevin Law CC 2.0 Unported no changes made

In South West England, the counties of Devon and Cornwall are linked by a granite ridge with high, stony moors and rocky outcrops. The long coast offers a wide variety of landscapes, ranging from impressive rock bastions, bays and sea arms that reach deep inland with wooded banks.

East Anglia has a gently sloping landscape with extensive arable land. East of Norwich are the Norfolk Broads, which has a large number of shallow waters. The marshes and peat area around Wash Bay have turned into arable land.
Lincolnshire and East Anglia barely rises above sea level. This now drained area used to consist mainly of fertile wetlands, better known under the name "The Fens".

The Midlands of central England are bordered to the north and west by the Pennine Mountains and the Welsh mountains. In the south and east there is a vague border formed by wide valleys, rivers with the steep slopes of mountain ranges in the background, including the Cotswolds Hills. Elsewhere, the landscape is more varied with hills, moors and wooded areas.

Northern England is characterized by high moors and rugged mountains. Here lies the Pennine Mountains (Pennines) with extensive plains on both sides, including the Cheshire Plain and the Lancashire Plain. On the east side is a fertile area, which extends northwards into the Vale of York and is bordered by chalk plateaus to the sea. In the far north, the inhospitable Cheviot Hills are the worn-out remains of ancient volcanoes. The Yorkshire Dales has a characteristic chalk landscape with plateaus and high hills with flattened peaks, including the 693 meter high Pen-y-Ghent, but also gorges, rock walls, caves and subterranean rivers.

Scafell ridge, with the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike.

Scafell ridge, with the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike.Photo: Public domain

East of the Pennine Mountains, the North York Moors National Park covers a wide moor. To the west is the Lake District with the highest peak in England, the Scafell Pike of 978 meters. This region has a wide variety of mountain landscapes, from wild rocks to beautiful park landscapes at Windermere Lake.

Rivers and Lakes

River Thames near OxfordRiver Thames near OxfordPhoto: Zxb CC 2.0 Austria no changes made

England has a large number of small rivers; the largest, the Thames (Thames), is 336 km long, of which only 280 km is navigable. There are 55 navigable rivers, the main of which are the Thames, Ouse, Trent, Humber, Tees, Wear and Tyne to the east, the Avon to the south and the Severn, Dee and Mersey to the west. Most rivers have a deep bed, are rich in water, have little decay, have a smooth course and are generally easy to navigate.

The lakes, especially in the much visited Lake District, are not large, but often beautifully situated. Lake Windermere (15 km2) is the largest lake in England; another large lake is Ullswater, 9 km2.

The high tide is highest on the west coast; in the Solway Firth and on the Severnmond it reaches a speed of 16 km per hour and a height of 13-14 meters. The flood at the mouth of the Thames is normally less than 5 meters high.

Climate and Weather

Foggy Fields in Yorkshire EnglandFoggy Fields in Yorkshire EnglandPhoto: Andy Beecroft CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

England has a very maritime climate because of its location in the middle of the North Atlantic Gulf Stream and especially because of the strong prevailing southwestern winds, which almost always supply moist sea air. The low annual temperature is also characteristic and in South East England is only 13 °C. The winters are generally mild and the summers cool, with relatively high humidity in both periods. Very low temperatures can only occur when the eastern winds supply air from the European mainland in winter.

Fog is quite common, for example in the industrial area of middle Engeland more than fifty days a year. The average number of hours of sunshine is not very high: 30 to 40% along the south and east coast, less to less than 20% along the west coast in the Scottish highlands. It is generally warmer in the south than in the north. In the south, the temperature fluctuates between 4 °C in January and 18 °C in July. Palm trees also grow here spontaneously, especially in the area also known as the "Cornish Riviera". Temperatures above 30 °C are sporadic throughout England.

Cloud front over Kent, EnglandCloud front over Kent, EnglandPhoto: Acabashi CC 4.0 International no changes made

It rains very often in England; in most places more than 200 days a year. The rainfall is mainly related to depressions passing over or to the north of the British Isles. These also cause the strong winds in the west and north: approx. 30 days a year with a wind force of 8 or higher. Due to propulsion, the precipitation amounts are greatest along the west coast and especially where it is mountainous. For example, parts of the Pennines and Lake District sometimes receive more than 4,500 mm of rain per year. In the east and in the lower areas it rains considerably less. There, an average falls between 1000 and 1500 mm per year. In London, and in parts of neighboring Essex and Kent, as little as 600mm per year. Most rain falls in the period from late September to late November, but it can also rain heavily in the middle of summer. In October 2000 and March 2001, extreme rain fell in certain parts of England, flooding entire areas.

The average number of snow days in South East England is over 15, along the west coast of Wales around 7.

WILTSHIRE (Southwest): 150 meters above sea level
precipitation (mm)644859455657555963646376
LONDON (Southeast): 62 meters above sea level
precipitation (mm)785161545557455668737779
PLYMOUTH (Zuidwesten) 27 meter above sea level
precipitation (mm)11592875864575469779596116
MANCHESTER (Midden) 78 meter above sea level
precipitation (mm)695061516167658171787878

Plants and Animals


Heath on the North York MoorsHeath on the North York MoorsPhoto: Colin Grice in the public domain

About 7,000 to 5,000 years ago, birch and pine forests covered England. In 1919, only 4% of the total area of England was covered by forests. Due to good management of existing forests and a replanting program, the total amount of forest land had risen again to 10% in the mid-1990s.

Pieces of deciduous forest can still be found in the lowlands, especially on the often very extensive estates. Much of North West and South West England is covered with heather, with wooded hills (especially conifers) and valleys in between, cultivated for agriculture.

The lowlands of southern England are mainly used for agriculture and the wooded appearance of some counties is largely apparent, as it is caused by rows of trees that are used as partitions and undergrowth. Oak and elm mainly occur on the fertile clay soil of the lowlands; beech and larch are among the few trees that grow on the limestone soils.


Fox EnglandFox EnglandPhoto: Airwolfhound CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The animal world of England is not very rich in species. Large mammals such as red deer and roe deer are distributed locally and the fallow deer introduced in Roman times is quite widespread. This also applies to fox, tie and otter, although the latter is not so common anymore. The deer was extinct, reintroduced 200 years ago and is currently the most common deer species in England. The sika deer was introduced in the 17th century. Wild mint yaks and Chinese water deer are descendants of escaped species. Other special appearances include wild goats in the Lake District, the semi-wild ponies of the New Forest and Dartmoor, wild boars in the southeast and a very strange sight: Bennett wallabies (Tasmanian subspecies of the red-necked wallaby of mainland Australia) in the Peak District. The pine marten is found in some places.

Typical for England are badgers, foxes, dormice, hedgehogs, bats. The gray squirrel, one of the most common "wild" animals, actually comes from North America, and has almost supplanted the native red squirrel. The brown and gray hare are also native, but the rabbit was introduced during Norman times. Rabbits, but also mice, voles and shrews are hunted by ermines and weasels. Water rats, otters and the mink live in streams and rivers.

Grey Seals EnglandGrey Seals EnglandPhoto: Francesco Veronesi CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Off the coast, harbor seals and gray seals, porpoises and dolphins can still be seen incidentally near the coast. There is a zoological reserve in the Farne Islands, including for the gray seal and a large number of seabird species. There are many, mostly small, bird sanctuaries and one of the best known is the Orfordness-Havergate Reserve on the South East coast of England. There are about 130 bird species in England, but they are struggling due to progressive urbanization. For example, there are only three million blackbird pairs left. Seabirds such as gannets, gulls, Northern petrels and cormorant are less sensitive to this. Other birds, such as the crossbill, the wood warbler and the nightingale, which only occurs in southern England, have adapted to their changing environment.

Barn Owl Englnd Barn Owl EnglndPhoto:Edd deane CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Typical species such as the rook, the bovine, the bunting, the barn owl, the pheasant live on and around agricultural lands and since 1955 the Turkish turtledove has nested on English soil. Birds of prey like the golden eagle, the red kite and even the buzzard struggle to survive by taking prey.

Migrants and hibernators include house martins, swifts, sand martins, cuckoos and chiffchaffs. Arctic regions include brent goose, barnacle goose, whooper swan, little swan, gray plover, oystercatcher, curlew and kingfisher. Among the birds are some of the continental aberrant geographic shapes, including the English white wagtail and the bullfinch.

The only poisonous snake is the viper. Furthermore, the grass snake and the smooth snake occur, the latter is seriously threatened. This also applies to the sand lizard, the common lizard does better. The natterjack toad and the common toad also have a hard time; the salamander can often be seen in the spring.
Salmon and trout are found in many rivers and streams. The sea is rich in fish species, especially on the rocky coasts.

More than 3000 beetle species live in England, the cockchafer and the flying deer are most common. Butterflies such as the peacock-eye, fathead, blue, fritillary and page find their favorite habitats all over England.

Protected natural areas

Peak District National Park EnglandPeak District National Park EnglandPhoto: Kate Jewell CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

A large number of areas in England have protected status. National Parks, Areas of Oustanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) are distinguished. In 1951, the Peak District became the first area in England to become National Park status. Ten more were added after that. In 2001, two areas in England and Scotland were nominated for National Park status.

The problem is that the protected areas attract many thousands of visitors every year, making it difficult to find a good balance between tourism on the one hand and protection of nature on the other.

In addition to the national parks, there are about a hundred state nature reserves, as well as wildlife, waterfowl and forest reserves and a fairly large number of private reserves.

National parksArea
The Peak District1438 km2
Lake District2292 km2
North York Moors1432 km2
Yorkshire Dales1769 km2
Exmoor693 km2
Northumberland1049 km2
Dartmoor954 km2
The Broads303 km2

Prehistory and Antiquity

England Castlerigg Stone CircleEngland Castlerigg Stone CirclePhoto: Public domain

The earliest evidence of human presence in Britain comes from the Clactonian. Artifacts such as hand axes from the Early and Middle Palaeolithic have only been found in the south of England. Northern habitation tracks have been lost through several ice ages. After each ice age, sea levels fell below the previous level, with the result that Britain was freely accessible by land from mainland Europe in cold times. At that time, therefore, there was one complex of related cultures from Eastern England to far into the Baltic region.

Approx. 6000 BC. England was finally separated from the European continent when the last land bridge in the southern North Sea flooded. The earliest farmers entered southwestern England from Brittany and southwestern France, and in a few centuries, peasant settlements had spread to the far corners of all the islands.

Since 2500 BC. The beaker culture is found on the British Isles and from earlier periods the many characteristic monuments such as stone circles, flint mines, quarries and megalithic monuments, including the world famous Stonehenge.

In the Bronze Age, a rich bronze industry developed and there was a lot of trade with peoples up to the Mediterranean. Trade relations also existed with our country, witness the bronze finds from the Dutch-Belgian Hilversum culture.

The round farmhouses originate mainly from the Iron Age, a house type entirely unique to Great Britain. Characteristic for that time were the hill-forts built on hills, centers for the many small tribes from which society was divided at that time. In the late Iron Age, these fortresses were surrounded by ramparts, which made it even better to defend against attackers. From about 500 BC. the British inhabitants of southern England were displaced by Celtic tribes from Gaul. The last were the Belgae, which c. 100 BC. crossed the Channel and settled in southern England.

Britannia and the Romans

Hadrian's WallHadrian's WallPhoto: Vellela in the public domain

About a century and a half later, Britain, hitherto called Albion, was conquered by the Romans, who in turn called the island Britannia (later also Brittania).

After two previous attempts had failed, the order of the Roman emperor Claudius from 43 AD. dispatched an expeditionary army that conquered South Britannia. Under the first governor Aulus Plautius, the province of Britannia was established, surrounded by many puppet states. Despite heavy resistance, Wales and part of Scotland were conquered from 77 to 84, but soon some of the conquests in the north had to be abandoned. To protect the Roman area from the northern Picts and Scots, border lines were established ("limes"), of which the Hadrianuswal is the best known.

The province of Britannia was divided into the western Britannia Inferior and the eastern Britannia Superior by Emperor Septimius Severus.

Under Emperor Honorius, the Roman garrisons were removed from Britannia in 401-402, under threat of the Visigoths, and in 407 Britannia was definitively abandoned by the Romans. In 410, the same king reported to the British that Rome could no longer help them from the continued attacks by the Picts and Scots in the north. During the 5th century, several peoples also moved from the east towards Britannia, such as Germanic Angels, Frisians and Saxons. They gradually pushed westward and many Britons migrated to Brittany and Normandy ("Armorica") on the mainland.


Sutton Hoo Helmet British MuseumSutton Hoo Helmet British MuseumPhoto: Public domain

The so-called Anglo-Saxon peoples settled all over Britain: the Saxons in southern England, the Jutes in the far southeast and along the Channel and the Angles throughout northern and central England. A few Celtic kingdoms in the west managed to survive. When these peoples were well established, the struggle for hegemony between the many small empires began, of course, Kent, Essex, Sussex, Wessex, East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria being the most important. At the end of the 6th century, the preponderance belonged to Kent and from the end of the 6th century to the end of the 7th century to Northumbria. At that time, the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon peoples also started at the initiative of Pope Gregory the Great. In 679, the hegemony of Northumbria passed to the empire of Aethelred of Mercia, which was very powerful throughout the 8th century and, among other things, held back the oppressive Celts in the west.


King Knut EnglandKing Knut EnglandPhoto: Public domain

In the early 9th century, the kingdom of Wessex became increasingly powerful, but increasingly suffered attacks from Scandinavia by Vikings and Danes. Under King Alfred the Great (870-899), the Vikings conquered all of East Anglia and the Eastern Midlands. Alfred managed to preserve the independence of Wessex and in 886 signed a treaty with the Danish king Guthrum, relinquishing an established part of England, which would later become known as "Danelaw". The kings who came after Alfred the Great slowly expanded their power to Northumbria.

Under King Edgar (959-975), the raids of the Vikings decreased and the Old English kingdom managed to restore itself. The Anglo-Saxons and the Scandinavians slowly merged into one people. Towards the end of the 10th century, England was attacked again by the Danes, and in 1016 the Danish king Knut became king of all of England.

However, the occupation of the Danes did not last very long and in 1042 the Wessex dynasty came back to power with King Edward the Confessor (1042-1066). He died in 1066, after which power over England was disputed between Harold, son of Godwin of Wessex, Duke William of Normandy and King Harald III of Norway. A council of sages, the "Witan", decided that Harold of Wessex would become king and he was crowned. He was immediately attacked from Norway, but would eventually be defeated by William of Normandy, the "Conqueror," at the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066. Harold died and the kingdom of Wessex no longer existed.


William the Conqueror EnglandWilliam the Conqueror EnglandPhoto: Public domain

These developments linked England and Normandy through a personal union from 1066 to 1204. A major disadvantage for England was that they got unintentionally involved in wars and struggles in mainland Europe. The English did not like this and a number of rebellions broke out, but were suppressed by William the Conqueror. The peasants in England felt the oppression most because they were ruled by faithful William the Conqueror. In 1087 Willem was succeeded by his son Willem II Rufus. He reigned until 1100, when he was succeeded in turn by Robert III, the eldest son of William the Conqueror and his successor in Normandy. This Robert was attacked and defeated in 1106 by his youngest brother Henry, king of England since 1100. England and Normandy were now united under one king. Hendrik tried to link his daughter Mathilde to someone so that he could succeed him if necessary. In 1135, Hendrik passed away, but his nephew, Stephen of Blois, claimed the throne. Mathilde, who was married to Geoffroy Plantagenet at the time, tried to claim her right to the throne, but the result was a real civil war. Some regions were completely destroyed and in 1148 Mathilde gave up the battle. However, in 1153 Stephen was forced to recognize Mathilde's son Hendrik Plantagenet as his successor.

The Plantagenet Period (1154-1399)

Richard I (Lionheeart) EnglandRichard I (Lionheeart) EnglandPhoto: Public domain

Henry II ascended the throne in 1154 and tried to restore order, meanwhile expanding his power to Ireland, Scotland and Wales. He was succeeded by Richard I Lionheart, who reigned until 1199 but spent most of his time fighting the Saracens and also led the third Crusade.

Lionheart was succeeded by his youngest brother, Jan who lost Normandy and other parts of France to the French.

Jan died in 1216 and was succeeded by his nine-year-old son Henry III, regent Hubert de Burgh. Under Henry III, the English kingship was restored and brought to an even higher level by Edward I, who annexed Wales, among others, and was a true reformer in the administrative field. The so-called "Model Parliament" first met in 1295, which was an important milestone in England's constitutional history.

Edward I was succeeded by his son Edward II, who lost everything that had been accomplished. In the early 14th century, for example, there was anarchy between the king and the oppositional barons. A defeat at Bannockburn in 1314 also ended England's influence in Scotland.

Under the reign of Edward III, the Hundred Years' War raged between England and France and the power of parliament was further expanded. Trade and industry became increasingly important to England's economy, but this positive development was cruelly interrupted by the plague that broke out in 1348 and disrupted the entire country. In addition, the war with France was at the expense of the economy, which in turn led to domestic unrest, after which Edward was pushed aside by his own son Jan van Gent. All this led under Richard II (1377-1399) and the initially very powerful Jan van Gent in 1381 to the great English peasant revolt.

It was not until 1389 that Richard took matters into his own hands and in 1397 he even carried out a kind of coup that gave him a lot of power. This despotic regime was ended by Henry Bolingbroke, a son of Jan van Gent, who became king in 1399 as Henry IV himself, legalized by parliament. He reigned until 1413 and was constantly at war with France, as was his successor Henry V. After the great victory over the French at Azincourt in 1415, Normandy was recaptured and succeeded French King Charles VI. Henry was succeeded by his son Henry VI, under whose rule the Hundred Years' War ended, but internally the so-called Rose Wars broke out, the struggle for power between the Houses of Lancaster and York. It was not until 1471 that the last Lancasters were defeated and Edward IV became the first king of the House of York to take power. After Edward's death, the guardian of Edward V, brother Richard, seized power in 1483. In 1485, Richard was overthrown by Henry Tudor, who became King Henry VII and brought an end to the Wars of the Rose between Lancaster and York.

House Tudor

Henry VII EnglandHenry VII EnglandPhoto: Public domain

During the reign of the House of Tudor, England underwent many religious, economic and political changes. Around 1500, the country had about 3 million souls in a predominantly agricultural society. The cities were still quite modest in size and there was a strong assimilation between gentry and merchants.

Under Henry VIII, the "first" English Reformation, the break with the Church of Rome, took place in 1534. The generally anti-pope population in England was certainly not against that and Protestantism gained more and more ground from that time, despite opposition from Henry VIII.

At this time, the dissolution of the powerful monasteries was also completed, redistributing much land and putting it into lay hands. However, the farmers hardly benefited from this and farmers' uprisings therefore occurred regularly.

The long reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) was the last of the Tudor era, and it affirmed the final English reform by the foundation of the Anglican Church. Under her government, England achieved enormous economic and cultural boom and played a very important role in international politics.

Stuarts and Civil War

Oliver Cromwell EnglandOliver Cromwell EnglandPhoto: Public domain

Elizabeth died in 1603 when the Tudor dynasty died out and was succeeded by the King of Scotland (James VI of Scotland), James I Stuart. Under his reign serious religious, financial, and political problems arose that culminated under Charles I (1625-1649) in the English Civil War (1642-1645), in which the English statesman and strict Puritan Oliver Cromwell emerged victorious. Cromwell's victory over the king, which was also executed, brought about a military dictatorship for England after a battle between the army and parliament. After the beheading of the king, he acted relentlessly against the Catholic Irish and the Presbyterian Scots who recognized Charles II as king, united England, Scotland and Ireland and ruled as "Lord Protector" almost without parliament. After the dictatorship of Cromwell (Interregnum), the restoration of the House of Stuart followed, and the separate parliaments for England, Scotland and Ireland were restored and Anglicanism as a state religion restored.

Restoration and Glorious Revolution

William II of EnglandWilliam II of EnglandPhoto: Public domain

After the reign of Charles II (1660-1685), the so-called Tories and Whigs arose as a result of the succession issue. The Tories supported the heir to the throne of Charles II's brother, Catholic James. The Whigs were for the exclusion of Catholics.

The reign of James II (1685-1688) was short-lived. He tried very prominently to favor the Catholics, provoking opposition from both the Tories and the Whigs. They sought support from Stadtholder William III of Holland, who was married to James' daughter Mary. In this way they wanted to save Protestantism and freedom of England. On November 5, 1688, William (called William by the English) landed in England and James fled to France. This palace revolution yielded the Bill of Rights in 1689, laws that strengthened parliament, and the Act of Settlement of 1701, which ensured the succession to the Protestant throne. This was the end of absolutism in England.

Willem was succeeded in 1702 by his sister-in-law Anne (1702-1714). Her reign was preoccupied with the War of the Spanish Succession and the battle between the Tories and the Whigs. In 1707, the Act of Union united England and Scotland into an empire with one parliament.

The second half of the seventeenth century meant financial, colonial and commercial expansion for England. Significant for this were the founding of the Bank of England in 1694 and the London Stock Exchange in 1698. The first settlements were established in India and North America, which later became vital.

House of Hanover

King George III EnglandKing George III EnglandPhoto: Public domain

In 1714, George I, as the first king of the House of Hanover, ascended the English throne, and was succeeded by his son George II (1727-1760). The Whigs controlled domestic politics until about 1760, after which the Tories came to power. Actual power in domestic and foreign politics, however, was in the hands of Robert Walpole, who sought peace and prosperity. Still, the UK (instead of England) failed to stay outside the European wars; they took part in the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War, among others.

In 1760 George III became king and in the Peace of Paris Canada, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island and a number of West Indian islands fell to Britain. It also received supremacy in the Indies.

The American Freedom War (1775-1783), in which the American colonies freed themselves from Great Britain, was of enormous significance for world history. The Industrial Revolution was also of great significance, which in particular turned the economic world history at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Although the French Revolution initially garnered admiration in Britain, the Franco-British War broke out on February 1, 1793. In 1802 Britain concluded the Peace of Amiens with France, but new hostilities followed in 1803. England acquired the final peace among others the Cape Colony, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Malta and the Ionian Islands near Greece.

19th century

Wedding Queen Victoria and Prince Albert EnglandWedding Queen Victoria and Prince Albert EnglandPhoto: Public domain

In the 19th century, Britain reached the height of its political and economic power. The slave trade was abolished in 1807, slavery only in 1833. After George IV (1820-1830) and William IV (1830-1837) Queen Victoria came to power from the House of Hanover. The great exploitation of the working class had already led to the establishment of workers' organizations, and political and economic liberalism developed in the second half of this century. Since the 1960s, only conservatives and liberals have opposed each other as political movements. Foreign policy was dominated by the Crimean War and the reaction to Italian and German politics led to a policy of intervention and expansion of the British world power. The second half of the 19th century was almost entirely controlled by the conservative Disraeli and the liberal Gladstone.

In 1884 almost all adult men were entitled to vote during the Second Ministry of Disraeli 1874-1880) and he started the imperialist politics of Great Britain. At the end of the 19th century, several political workers' parties were founded, which united in 1906 to the Labor Party. In the early 20th century, the British Empire reached the height of its power and ruled large parts of Africa, Asia and North America.

20th century

Edward VII EnglandEdward VII EnglandPhoto: Public domain

In 1901, Queen Victoria was succeeded by Edward VII of the House of Saxe-Coburg, and from 1905 to 1915, Liberal Prime Ministers Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith ruled. Out of necessity, Britain sided with France in 1904 through the Entete Cordiale, thereby keeping other powers in Europe at bay from hegemony in the world.

In 1915, Britain was swept up in World War I, and in 1916, a coalition government gave way to a cabinet of war led by Lloyd George. Remarkably, the then King George V (1910-1936) gave up all his German titles and changed the name from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor. Ireland's independence was completed during the First World War.

After the war, Britain was faced with very serious political issues, and the first Labor cabinets emerged in the 1920s and 1930s due to major domestic social unrest. In the late 1930s, the global economic crisis drew all political currents together (cabinets MacDonald, Stanley and Chamberlain) in an ultimate attempt to somewhat restore the severely battered economy.

However, the recovery had barely started when fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany cornered Britain. First they experienced a real royal crisis in which Edward VIII was succeeded by his brother George VI (1936-1952). In the foreign field, people were virtually out of control and even concluded in 1938 an agreement with Hitler-Germany, which turned out to be worthless.

Winston Churchill EnglandWinston Churchill EnglandPhoto: Public domain

Despite almost desperate mediation efforts, Britain also became involved in World War II. When Hitler invaded Poland, Britain and France replied with a declaration of war to Germany on September 3, 1939. In May 1940, Winston Churchill formed a coalition cabinet and took charge of the warfare.

On the European mainland, in Asia and in Africa, the battle was initially dramatic, with thousands of British soldiers lost their lives. Despite this, Britain continued to hold its own under the leadership of its great political and military leaders Winston Churchill and General Montgomery. Finally, in May 1945, the Allies, especially the United States, managed to defeat Germany.

After the second World War

Harold Macmillan EnglandHarold Macmillan EnglandPhoto: Public domain

The first post-war elections were gloriously won by Labor, led by Attlee. Health, traffic and mines were nationalized. Decolonization policy was also started in those early years after the war, with Britain withdrawing from India and Burma, among others.

In 1951, the Conservatives returned to government and remained until October 1963, led respectively by Churchill, Anthony Eden and Harold MacMillan. In 1952 George VI was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth II.

The early years of the MacMillan period (January 1957-October 1963) were initially quite successful, but economic-financial politics lacked a fixed policy and unemployment rose alarmingly, especially since 1962. In 1961 the MacMillan government decided to do so to join the European Economic Community (EEC), but in January 1963 ran into the veto of France, which was then headed by Charles de Gaulle.

MacMillan was succeeded by Douglas-Home in October 1963, but the November elections were won by Labor under Harold Wilson. Economic problems remained severe under Labor and France's accession to the EEC was again blocked. Also there were again many problems with (former) colonies, including Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), which declared itself unilaterally in 1965. Immigration from former colonies took shape and caused many problems and racial contradictions.

As a result of all these problems, the prestige of the Wilson administration crumbled further and further, and the 1970 elections delivered a victory for the conservatives led by Edward Heath.

The Heath government was faced with serious social unrest, but was successful with accession to the EEC on 1 January 1973.

In April 1976, Wilson, who withdrew for personal reasons, was succeeded by Callaghan, formerly Secretary of State. He was confronted with so many economic and social problems that the elections in May 1979 were not surprisingly won by the conservatives. Conservative Party president Margaret Thatcher took the place of Callaghan.

The Eighties

Margareth Thatcher EnglandMargareth Thatcher EnglandPhoto: Public domain

Agreement was reached with all warring parties in Rhodesia in 1980; relations with the Economic Community (EC) remained very tense, in particular because of Thatcher, in Thatch's view, much too high a contribution. In 1982 Argentina occupied the Falkland archipelago claimed by both countries. The islands were recaptured at the cost of many lives, and the Conservative Party won a thunderous election victory in 1983.

In 1984, a conflict with the radical coal miners' union demanded attention. The strikes lasted more than a year and wreaked havoc on the British economy. Thatcher, however, did not budge and in fact intended to deal with the unions' influence, which she said was far too great, once and for all. The eventual defeat indeed meant that the unions would no longer be a significant factor for years.

In October 1984, Thatcher narrowly escaped a bomb attack claiming the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The terrorist government put the government of Ireland under severe pressure from the Thatcher administration. This led to the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1986, which gave the Irish Republic a very limited influence on the state of affairs in Northern Ireland in exchange for a tough fight against the IRA.

The 1987 elections were again won by the conservatives, but Thatcher suffered a loss of face in his own circle due to the resignation of the Minister of Finance, Nigel Lawson, after a serious disagreement with Thatcher. Lawson was a strong supporter of Britain's participation in the European Monetary System (EMS), but Thatcher continued to pursue an independent British monetary policy. From that time, however, European politics was taken over by European-minded ministers Howe, Hurd and John Major, who would later succeed Thatcher.

The Nineties

John Major EbnglandJohn Major EnglandPhoto: Public domain

During the Gulf Crisis in August 1990, Thatcher tried to restore her damaged image. She sent ships, planes and troops to the Persian Gulf, but to no avail. John Major forced accession to the EMS in October 1990 and Howe resigned from the cabinet in November, strongly condemning Thatcher's opposition to further European integration. As a result, resigned Michael Heseltine began to question Thatcher's leadership. After two election rounds in November, it became clear that Thatcher could no longer count on a majority and she kept the honor to herself and resigned on November 22, 1990.

She was succeeded by John Major, who also struggled with greater integration within the EC. At the European summit in Maastricht (9-10 December 1991) an exception was therefore made for the British on important points.

The British royal family, meanwhile, also had major problems, such as the separation of Crown Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and the divorces of Princess Anne and Prince Andrew. At the end of 1996, the marriage between Charles and Diana officially ended.

Northern Ireland Issue

Good friday treaty EnglandGood friday treaty EnglandPhoto: Titanic Hotel Belfast (CC BY 2.0) no changes made

The IRA resigned on August 31, 1994 to promote a peaceful agreement with Britain. Gerry Adams, the head of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA, stated that the struggle to end British rule in Northern Ireland had entered a "new" phase. However, problems during the negotiations led to several bombings by the IRA in 1996, ending the 17-month ceasefire.

In 1997, the new Labor government took office under Tony Blair. Northern Ireland peace talks resumed and the IRA decided to resume a ceasefire. In April 1998, a peace agreement (the so-called Good Friday Agreement) was signed by Britain, the Irish Republic and major parties in Northern Ireland. The peace agreement provided guarantees for the Protestant Unionists that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom as long as the majority of the population wanted it. Furthermore, the Irish Republic waived its claims to the territory of Ulster, while Great Britain removed the legal provisions that hindered a united Ireland; Northern Ireland was given a parliament with limited powers, and a Council of Ministers would be set up to hold members of government from Ireland and Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, the treaty was accepted after a referendum, followed by elections and the David Trimble's UUP became the largest party. On July 1, 1998, Trimble was elected Prime Minister for Northern Ireland. The peace agreement came under heavy pressure after various acts of violence. But just after a major attack in Omagh, which killed 28 people, several republican splinter groups decided on a ceasefire between Protestant Unionists and Catholic nationalists.

Things started to progress in the second half of 1999. After mediation by the American Mitchell, Sinn Féin was able to participate in the Northern Irish government. Likewise, the Republic of Ireland relinquished its claim to the whole island, and Britain withdrew its claim as a sovereign in power over Northern Ireland. On December 2, Britain declared that it would change the status of Northern Ireland if a majority of people wanted it.

In January 2000, major controversy arose between the IRA and Sinn Féin, on the one hand, and the Protestant Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), on the other, regarding the dismantling of the IRA's weapons stock. Negotiations were unsuccessful and on February 11 the British government decided to restore direct rule from London. Four days later, the IRA withdrew from the talks and the end of the peace agreement seemed to be getting closer. On 1 March, British Prime Minister Blair and Irish Prime Minister Ahern agreed on a timetable for new peace negotiations. A few months later, the IRA stated that it wanted to fully cooperate with the decommissioning of all weapons and receive international weapons inspectors. Partly as a result of this, direct rule of London was lifted on May 30 and the coalition of Trimble, Sinn Féin and UUP, was restored.

As a result of a series of incidents culminating in the 'espionage scandal' starring Sinn Féin / IRA, the British government decided on 14 October 2002 to suspend the political institutions in Northern Ireland and to temporarily 'direct rule' from London again. feed.

British domestic politics

BSE Mad Cow Desease EnglandBSE Mad Cow Desease EnglandPhoto: Public domain

Partly as a result of a number of scandals, the Conservatives of Major suffered some serious defeats in midterm and regional elections. It even got to the point where some conservative House of Commons members switched to Labor, and in late 1996 Major lost his majority in the House of Commons. Meanwhile, youthful Laborman Tony Blair continued to modernize the Labor Party after becoming the leader of the Labor Party in 1994.

1996 was also the year of Mad Cow Disease (BSE), which caused quite a stir worldwide when it became known that the disease might be transmitted to humans. The lax way of acting after the EU's demand for a total export ban caused a lot of bad blood everywhere and ultimately Major was willing to take additional measures. Meanwhile, the EU maintained an import ban on British beef products. Ultimately, the blame for the mad cow crisis was blamed on politics and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

In May 1997, Tony Blair led the Labor Party to the biggest election win ever. He also became the first Labor Prime Minister since 1979. In the early years of Blair's reign, referendums were held on whether Scotland and Wales would have limited self-government. The people's answer was undeniably yes, and as a result, parliaments with limited powers were installed during 1998. For foreign policy, it was important that the British government decided in October 1997 not to join Economic and Monetary Union. Noteworthy, but not unexpected, was the decision to assist Clinton's America to bomb Iraq as a sanction for failing to deliver on promises made to the United Nations.

Parliamentary elections for the new Scottish and Welsh parliament were held for the first time in May 1999. In both cases, Labor became the largest party without gaining a majority.

21st century

Tony Blair EnglandTony Blair EnglandPhoto: Public domain

The parliamentary elections of June 7, 2001 were brilliantly won by Blair's Labor Party (412 out of a total of 659 seats). It was the first time in parliamentary history that a Labor government had a second consecutive term, despite the lowest voter turnout in about a century. Second party with 166 seats became the Conservative Party and third party became the Liberal Democratic Party with 52 seats. There were also eight parties with six seats or less, the most famous of which are from Northern Ireland: the Ulster Uninonist Party and Sinn Féin. Following the election results, the leader of the British conservatives, William Hague, resigned.

In the May 5, 2005 election, Tony Blair led his party to a historic third win in a row. Labor obtained 35.2% of the vote, which accounted for 354 of the 646 seats in parliament. It was striking that Labor did not conquer any new constituency. Furthermore, Labor's absolute majority for a re-elected ruling party is historically small (67 to 161 before the elections). The other major parties in the House of Commons are the Conservative Party (also known as the Tories; 196 seats) and the Liberal Democrats (the "Lib-Dems"; 62 seats), which again booked seat gains. There are also smaller parties: Democratic Unionist (9 seats), Scottish National Party (6), Sinn Fein (5), Social Democratic & Labor Party (3), Plaid Cymru (3), Ulster Unionist (1), Respect ( 1) and 2 independent members. Finally, the speaker / deputies also sit in parliament. However, they do not vote.

Local elections were held on May 4, 2006, resulting in a major loss to Labor, with more than 300 Labor councilors losing their seats. More than 40% of the votes cast went to the Conservative Party, 27% to the Lib. Dems and only 26% to Labor. Prime Minister Blair took advantage of this election defeat to make major changes to his cabinet on 5 May: 15 of the 26 ministers changed positions. Margaret Beckett, formerly Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs. She succeeds Jack Straw, who became Leader of the House of Commons and Lord of the Privy Seal. He succeeded Geoff Hoon, who was appointed Minister for Europe. John Reid, hitherto Minister of Defense, became the new Home Secretary to succeed Charles Clarke.

Prime Minister Blair has announced that he will no longer aspire to a fourth term in office. On September 7, 2006, he stated that he would resign within a year, but he did not specify an exact date. His successor was "Chancellor" Gordon Brown, who since February 2006 presents himself more and more as future prime minister. On July 7, 2005, London was hit by terrorist attacks, which left 56 dead and over 700 injured. British society was shocked and confused by the news that the attacks were committed by suicides who held British nationality and were apparently well integrated into British society. Incidentally, the attacks were claimed by Al-Qaida, who cited British Iraq policy as the reason.

According to Home Secretary John Reid, at least four attacks have since been foiled, such as those at London Underground stations on July 21, 2005, also killing an apparently innocent Brazilian man by the police for behaving suspiciously at a tube station. On August 10, 2006, the arrest of 24 suspects allegedly foiled a major terrorist attack, which would have attempted to blow up at least ten aircraft on the UK-US route using liquids carried in hand luggage. Very strict security measures were introduced at all airports, which have since eased somewhat. Moreover, the risk of terrorist attacks in the UK remains high: according to Minister Reid, at least 24 other plots are currently under investigation.

David Cameron EngelandDavid Cameron EngelandPhoto: Toms Norde, Valts Canceleja CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

On June 27, 2007, Gordon Brown succeeds Tony Blair as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In May 2008 Brown's Labor Party loses the local elections with a big difference. The credit crisis hit the UK in late 2008 and early 2009. Interest will be cut and incentives will be taken. In May 2010, the conservatives led by David Cameron win the election, but do not reach the absolute majority. A coalition is formed in record time with the liberal democrats of Nig Clegg and David Cameron becomes the new prime minister.

Marriage Prince William and Kate Middleton EnglandMarriage Prince William and Kate Middleton EnglandPhoto: Public domain

Prince William married Kate Middleton in April 2011. They are given the title of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. In August and September 2012, London will host the Olympic Games. In July 2013, the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a son. The child is called George and is the third in line to the throne. In May 2014, the Anti-Eu party UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) received many votes during the European elections. In September 2014, Scottish voters vote in a referendum to stay within the United Kingdom. In the elections in May 2015, the conservatives win and the advance of UKIP and the Scottish nationalists continues. In February 2016, Cameron is organizing a referendum where the British can choose to stay for or against the EU. He has signed a new deal with the EU and is in favor of an extended stay within the EU. The anti-EU (BREXIT) camp will be the mouthpiece of Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London. In June, the BREXIT camp wins the referendum and Cameron announces his resignation.

Theresa May EnglandTheresa May EnglandPhoto: Raul Mee CC 2.0 no changes made

Theresa May will become the new Prime Minister and Boris Johnson the Secretary of State in July 2016. In May and June 2017, attacks take place in Manchester and London by followers of Islamic State, and 30 people are killed. Early elections will be held in June 2017. May hopes to increase her majority. On the contrary, a conservative minority remains in parliament who can remain in power only with the support of Northern Irish Unionists. Formal negotiations begin to leave the EU.

Boris Johnson EnglandBoris Johnson EnglandPhoto: Estonian Presidency CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Boris Johnson became prime minister in July 2019 after he beat Jeremy Hunt in the race to become leader of the Conservative Party. He took over from, Theresa May, who stood down as Conservative Party leader in June 2019 after failing to get Parliament to agree a way forward on Brexit. Boris Johnson went on to win a convincing majority at a snap general election in December 2019, paving the way for Britain to leave the European Union. On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom withdrew from the EU, negotiations led by the end of 2020 to a deal with the European union. In 2021 England wwas hit severely bij the COVID-19 pandemic. Early 2022 Boris Johnson is in trouble because despite severe resrtrictions for the general publid there were a series of alleged rule-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.



The English love there pubThe English love there pubPhoto: Mark Waugh (CC BY 2.0) no changes made

The residents of England are descended from a number of populations that settled on the British Isles over the course of millennia. The last invasion was that of the Normans in 1066. Before the Normans, several pre-Celtic and Celtic-speaking populations came to Great Britain and Ireland, followed by Romans (55 BC - 410 AD), Anglo-Saxons, Frisians and the Vikings from Denmark and Norway. All these peoples have undeniably left their mark in culture, language and architecture.

The number of British Commonwealth immigrants who came to live in the United Kingdom after World War II, and their descendants, was estimated at 4% of the total population in 1995. Immigrants just after the war were needed to reduce the major labor shortage. The government tried to solve this problem by attracting immigrants from former colonies such as India and Pakistan and from overseas territories in Africa and the Caribbean. The total number ran into the hundreds of thousands in the 1950s and 60s.

Ethnicity EnglandEthnicity EnglandPhoto: Stevvvv4444 CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

A large proportion of them live in the urban areas of London and Manchester, among others. Many people of Asian descent live in Leicester, Birmingham and Bradford, while many immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean live in London. Since 1962/1968, immigration has become increasingly strict and the number of immigrants has declined. In the 1970s, many refugees mainly came to England, including Uganda, Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan and Eastern Turkey. Currently (2017), approximately 13% of the English population is not white.

Domestic migration mainly concerned people from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who moved to the major industrial cities of England.


The birth rate in 2017 was 12.1 per 1000 inhabitants, the death rate 9.4 per 1000 inhabitants. Population growth at 0.52 per year (2017). The average life expectancy at birth in 2017 was 78.6 years for men and 83.1 years for women. In 2017, 17.5% of the population was under 15 years old, 64.5% between 15 and 64 years old and 18% over 65 years old. These figures apply to the United Kingdom as a whole.


England has more than 55 million inhabitants, the United Kingdom as a whole 65.5 million. The lion's share of the UK population lives in England, 9% in Scotland, 3% in Northern Ireland and 5% in Wales. 83% of the British population lives in cities and suburbs.

In 2017, England had a population density of around 400 people per km2. All these people do not live equally across the country. In the West Midlands, for example, there are almost 3000 people per km2. Oxfordshire and Norfolk are areas where the population density is below the national average. Near the Scottish border, in Cumbria and Morthumberland, only 75 people live per km2.

London is the most populous city in England with neighborhoods such as Chelsea and Kensington having more than 13,000 inhabitants per km2. The largest cities in England are: London 8.6 million inhabitants, Birmingham 2.8 million inhabitants and Manchester 2.7 million inhabitants (2017).



The English language belongs to the Germanic languages, a large group within the Indogerman language family, to which almost all languages of Europe belong. Within the Germanic languages one can distinguish three subgroups: the Northern (including Norwegian, Danish and Swedish), the Continental (including German and Dutch) and the Western, to which English belongs.

The Germanic language group originated about 2500-2000 BC, but has only been widely distributed since the beginning of the era. Britain was then dominated by the Celts and the Romans. Between the 5th and 7th centuries AD. followed the invasion of Germanic tribes like Angels, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians. These peoples caused almost all Celts to be expelled to the less inhospitable areas of Britain, such as Wales and Scotland.

The Germanic dialect is usually called Anglo-Saxon or Old English and was already written in around 700. The Anglo-Saxons were followed by the Vikings, who brought North Germanic words and finally by Normans who introduced French language and culture to Britain. From a combination of their Norman dialect and Anglo-Saxon, English eventually emerged, as is now spoken in England.

English from the period 1100-1500 is called Middle English, after which New English has been created since 1500. The colonial era, the massive immigration of the English and Irish who began to use English as their common language in their new homeland, and England's dominant position in trade, aviation and shipping, led to English developing especially in the 19th century to a world language. It is currently the most widely spoken and understood language in the world. The standard language used in England is called "the Queen's English".

Map Official English language in the World

Map Official English language in the WorldPhoto: Eddo CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

English is the native language of more than 300 million inhabitants of, among others, Great Britain, Ireland, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and South Africa. Moreover, it is often the working language in former British colonies. As an international colloquial language, English also plays an important role in aviation, the film and computer world and pop music.

Cockney English and other dialects

In the past centuries, the residents of London's East End developed a special language: Cockney. The Cockneys are people born in the East End, especially those who live within the sound of Bow Bells, which means as far as the church bells of St. Mary-le-Bow can be heard.

Characteristic for the Cockney is the "glottislag", briefly interrupting the sound of the voice or switching it on by briefly closing the vocal gap and interrupting the vibration of the vocal cords. Frequently, the sound occurs, as in words like "better", where the "t" is pronounced as glottislag, which is often rendered even better.

Furthermore, there are an overwhelming amount of regional dialects and accents that cannot be followed by outsiders. Besides the Cockney of London, mention can be made of the Scouse of Liverpool, the Geordie of Newcastle and Tyneside and the Brummie of Birmingham and its surroundings.

The main differences are between Northern and Southern England. People from the north use shorter vowel sounds, for example the "a" in the word "bath" is pronounced as the "a" in the word "fat".

American English

The English that the Americans use is closer to the English written and spoken when the American colonies were founded than the language of present-day English. There are thousands of words in England that are hard for Americans to recognize:

anorakhooded winter jacket
chipsfrench fries
come a cropperend up badly
dual carriagewaydivide highway
fortnighttwo weeks
not cricketnot fair; not acceptable



UK ReligionUK ReligionPhoto: James Brian Ellis CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

There is complete freedom of religion, but the state church of England is the Church of England. The King must be a member of the Church of England and must pledge to protect the Church when he is enthroned. Associated with the Church of England is the so-called Anglican Communion.

About 72% of the English population belong to a state church or a free church, about 8% are Roman Catholic and over 2.5% are Islamic. There are also 400,000 Sikhs, 350,000 Hindus, 300,000 Jews and 25,000 Buddhists.

The first Islamic mosque was founded as early as 1890 in Woking, Surrey. Currently, more than 300 mosques can be found across the UK. The Central Mosque of London is one of the most important Islamic institutes outside the Arab world.

In 1995, the largest Hindu temple outside India was built in North London. England has the second largest Jewish community in Europe. Most of the approximately 300,000 Jews live in London and they often have an Orthodox background.

Principal Religions in England
Roman Catholic9,8%
Orthodox Christian1,0%
Other Christians1,7%
Other / non-religious29,9%

Anglican Church

Westminster Abbey, EnglandWestminster Abbey, EnglandPhoto: Jdforester CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


The Anglican church is named after the old name: Ecclesia Anglicana. Other names for the English State Church are Church of England, Established Church or Epicopal Church.

The Anglican Church comprises about half of the British population, has approximately 18,000 clergy and is ruled by bishops. The Church has two Archbishops, those of Canterbury and York, and 43 Bishops. The Archbishop of York is the Primate of England, that of Canterbury is the Primate of All England. The latter has the right to crown the king (in) at Westminster Abbey. Under Canterbury there are 29 dioceses and under York 14. A diocese is again divided into so-called "archdeaconries".

At the head of a cathedral church is a blanket or "dean", assisted by a number of canons or "canons". A parish is headed by a rector or "vicar," who is assisted by chaplains or "curates."

The close connection between church is made clear by the fact that archbishops and bishops, according to their seniority, have a seat in the Upper House, the English Upper House. It is also striking that all ecclesiastical laws must be approved by parliament. However, the close relationship between church and state does not imply that the church receives any financial support from the state.

The Anglican Church has remained the same in hierarchical structure as the Catholic Church (Church of Rome) and this also applies to various aspects of worship. However, the strongly conservative Anglican Church also has its own character and is closely linked to the British nation and its traditions. She also attaches great importance to fixed liturgical forms and customs and especially to the "Book of Common Prayer", which was first published in 1549. Daily morning and evening prayers, "morning and evening prayers", feature prominently in the rite.

Contradicting the above is the fact that since 1994 women can also be called to the office of priest.

Book of Common Prayer, EnglandBook of Common Prayer, EnglandPhoto: Public domain

Short history

Political reasons prompted the founding of an independent English Church in Catholic England. King Henry VIII wanted permission from Pope Clement VII to dissolve his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and then remarry Anna Boleyn. However, the Pope refused to cooperate, after which the Church of England was founded in 1534. On November 3, 1534, Parliament recognized the king as "Supreme Head in earth, immediately under God, of the Church of England," head of the English Church. This gave the king very far-reaching powers in the administration and management of the Anglican Church.

Later that century, the arrival of many Protestant refugees from mainland Europe reinforced the Calvinist influences. In 1549 the Book of Common Prayer (definitively revised in 1662) and the 42 articles (revised to 39 articles in 1571) appeared in the English language; furthermore, all statues were removed from the churches. Under Elizabeth I, the Settlement of the Established Church was permanently introduced.

Four directions

The Anglican Church can be distinguished in four directions:

-High Church Party or Ecclesiastical: led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. They strongly adhere to the close relationship between church and state and place a heavy emphasis on the rite of the old liturgy.

-Low Church, "evangelicals", or low-ecclesiastics: they emphasize the Protestant doctrine, especially the Calvinist. Furthermore, strong emphasis on personal piety, mission, distribution of the Bible and Christian mercy.

-Broad Church of "modernists": mainly intellectual movement that originated around 1830. Characterized by striving for renewal and modernization of theology and is very socially active.

-Moderates of "No Party Men": moderate supporters who want to stand outside the competing parties and strive for peace between the above groups.

Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion includes the Church of England and several other Anglican church communities. The Anglican Communion includes the Church in Wales and Ireland, the Epicopal Church in Scotland, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, and many Anglican churches in the rest of the world.

In total, approximately 30 million Christians are affiliated with the Anglican Communion. The Lambeth Conference has been held every ten years since 1867, bringing together Anglican bishops from all over the world.

Other Churches in England

Ashby Wesleyan Methodist Church, Ashby, North Lincolnshire, England.Ashby Wesleyan Methodist Church, Ashby, North Lincolnshire, England.Photo: Richard Croft CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The Free Churches or "Free Churches" arose primarily from opposition to state interference in ecclesiastical matters. The most important of these are the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Baptist Churches. In addition to the Scottish Presbyterian state church, there are several Presbyterian
churches (especially in Scotland and Northern Ireland). Other Protestant denominations include: the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, the Churches of Christ, the Free Church of England (or Reformed Episcopal Church), formed in 1844 as a direct result of the Oxford Movement, the Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Salvation Army, founded by William Booth in 1865.

Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church was restored in England and Wales in 1850 and now has about five million believers across Britain. There are five archdioceses and fifteen dioceses in England and Wales; Scotland has two archdioceses and six dioceses; Northern Ireland is part of the Ecclesiastical province of Armagh and has one Archdiocese (Armagh) and four dioceses.


State structure

Elizabeth II EnglandElizabeth II EnglandPhoto: Public domain

The United Kingdom is a constitutional parliamentary monarchy, the constitution of which is not enshrined in a constitution, unique to such an important player in world politics. The constitution is essentially a body of statutes, customary law (based on judicial decisions and precedents) and conventions.

An important part of British constitutional law is common law, which are rules of law that historically go back to customary law. An example is the recognition of parliament as a legislative body. This also applies to the special privileges or "privileges" of both houses of parliament. According to the English system, so-called fundamental rights are a corollary of common law; the Habeas Corpus, for example, a court order to bring a particular person to trial. The special powers of the Crown, or 'the royal prerogative', are also included in common law.

In the late 1980s, the lack of a written constitution was increasingly perceived as a loss and a threat to certain civil rights. Since 1988, the Charter 88 reform movement has been calling for greater freedom of information in addition to a written constitution and reform of the British electoral system.

The Crown is hereditary in both the male and female lines. Although the powers of the Crown are formally exercised by the king (in), this is in fact done by the Cabinet, which is accountable to the House of Representatives, the House of Commons. The king officially only has ceremonial and representative functions, but he does occasionally influence state affairs. The United Kingdom has been ruled by Queen Elizabeth II since 1952. She is in close contact with the Prime Minister or "Prime Minister" (official name: First Lord of the Treasury) and has the right to be consulted on, and advise and warn on, more important issues. In addition, she appoints the prime minister after general elections. The British Queen is also the head of state of most of the countries that are part of the British Commonwealth, the unloading alliance of most of the countries that were part of the British colonial empire in the past.

The leader of the party that holds the majority of seats in the House of Commons is appointed prime minister. The "cabinet" is the central, executive authority of the state. The "government" includes all ministers, including those who do not serve on the cabinet, and more junior government officials. The prime minister appoints members of the cabinet and other persons who will hold government positions during the term of office of his cabinet. Cabinet members must have a seat in the House of Commons or the House of Lords, and for the Prime Minister, Secretary of State and Minister of Finance, the posts require a seat in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister also has the right to compel a member of his government to resign, something that happens quite often. Responsibility for the actions of the government towards parliament is collective. The House of Commons can, by expressing its disapproval of the government, force the government to resign or, after the house has been dissolved, hold new elections.

Houses of Parliament EnglandHouses of Parliament EnglandPhoto: Henry Kellner CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The House of Lords or House of Lords is for the most part composed of male members who sit on the basis of their hereditary nobility (peers) (1994: 773). There are also 24 Bishops and 2 Archbishops of the Anglican Church, members of the Supreme Court of Great Britain and two other senior judicial officials. However, these judicial members of the House do not participate in political debates of the House. In total, the House of Lords has approximately 1,200 members, of whom on average only a quarter attend the meetings.

Life peerages (non-hereditary nobility) were instituted in 1958; this also gave women the opportunity to sit in the House of Lords. Since 1963, women entitled to hereditary nobility have been able to sit in the House and hereditary beneficiaries have been able to relinquish their seat for their person - not also for their heirs - so that membership of the House of Commons is open to them.

The powers of the House of Lords are essentially limited to four tasks:

- initiating bills
- check the bills that are submitted to the House of Lords
- the right to block bills for up to one year
- discussion about important political problems, which the House of Commons cannot deal with, due to time constraints.

The Lordship of the House of Lords is Lord Chancellor, who is a member of the cabinet.

House of Commons EnglandHouse of Commons EnglandPhoto: UK Parliament CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The House of Commonss, which is the actual people's representation, is elected according to a district system.

The electoral system of the district system whereby the person with the most votes in a constituency becomes the candidate of that district, the so-called 'first-past-the-post' system, allows one party to receive a large majority, while not the majority of the national voters voted for it. Parties whose support is evenly distributed across the country may be disproportionately disadvantaged.
All British nationals from 18 years are entitled to vote. With the exception of a few groups, every Briton from the age of 21 can be elected a member of the House of Commons. One member of the House of Commons is elected in each district. Constituencies are so limited that they each contain approximately 50,000 people. In 2002 there were 659 counties and thus 659 House of Commons members, spread across England (529), Scotland (72), Wales (40) and Northern Ireland (18).

The official opposition leader receives a state-paid salary to fill the position. He is the prime opponent of the prime minister and leads the shadow cabinet. The maximum term of office of the House of Commons is five years; however, the government may decide to wind up earlier and thus force general elections at a time that it sees fit. The House of Commons appoints its chairman, the speaker, who, as long as he is in office, occupies an impartial position independent of his own party. The ruling party and the official opposition party are aware of the phenomenon of 'whips', persons who conduct mutual consultations between those parties and ensure that there is discipline in the group. For the current political situation see chapter history.

Administrative division

England has three levels of government: the County, District and Parish (England) Council. England is divided into 39 counties or counties. The counties of the entire United Kingdom were divided into 659 counties in 2002, spread across England (529), Scotland (72), Wales (40) and Northern Ireland (18).

London occupies an exceptional position. The Greater London Council, together with other large city councils, was dissolved in April 1986 for financial reasons and replaced by other bodies with less responsibility. The city now consists of 32 independent boroughs and the City of London.

The councilors elect a president from among their number once a year, who may use the title Mayor in those borough-counties. There are nineteen cities where the chairman of the council can call himself Lord Mayor.

Counties of England with some important places
Bedfordshire (Bedford, Luton, Sandy)
Berkshire (Reading, Windsor, Wokingham)
Buckinghamshire (Milton Keynes, Buckingham, Aylesbury)
Cambridgeshire (Cambridge, Linton)
Cheshire (Chester, Stockport, Macclesfield, Crewe)
Cornwall (Falmouth, Newquay, Truro)
Cumberland (Carlisle, Workington)
Derbyshire (Derby, Chesterfeld, Ashbourne)
Devon (Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay)
Dorset (Dorchester, Shaftesbury)
Durham (Durham, Sunderland, Darlington, Hartlepool, Gateshead)
Essex (Chelmsford, Southend, Brentwood, West Ham)
Gloucestershire (Gloucester, Bristol, Cheltenham)
Hampshire (Winchester, Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Newport)
Herefordshire (Hereford, Ross-on-Wye)
Hertfordshire (Hertford, Watford, St. Albans)
Huntingdonshire (Huntingdon, St. Ives)
Kent (Maidstone, Canterbury, Rochester, Dover, Greenwich)
Lancashire (Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Bolton)
Leicestershire (Leicester, Loughborough)
Lincolnshire (Lincoln, Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Boston)
Middlesex (City of London, Harrow, Enfield, Westminster)
Norfolk (Norwich, Great Yarmouth)
Northamptonshire (Northampton, Peterborough, Kettering)
Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Nottinghamshire (Nottingham, Mansfield, Newark)
Oxfordshire (Oxford, Banbury)
Rutland (Oakham, Cottesmore)
Shropshire (Shrewsbury, Telford)
Somerset (Bath, Yeovil, Bridgewater, Glastonbury)
Staffordshire (Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton, Walsall)
Suffolk (Ipswich, Felixstowe, Sudbury)
Surrey (Guildford, Croydon, Woking, Sutton, Wimbledon, Brixton)
Sussex (Chichester, Brighton, Worthing)
Warwickshire (Warwick, Birmingham, Coventry, Stratford-upon-Avon)
Westmorland (Appleby, Windermere, Kirkby)
Wiltshire (Salisbury, Swindon, Chippenham, Marlborough)
Worcestershire (Worcester, Kidderminster)
Yorkshire North Riding (Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Whitby)
East Riding (Hull)
West Riding (Wakefield, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Halifax, York)


The Dining Hall of Balliol College, Oxford UniversityThe Dining Hall of Balliol College, Oxford UniversityPhoto: David Iliff CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Since the Second World War, education in England has undergone many changes.

In the current situation, children between the ages of five and sixteen are expected to attend school. At the age of eleven they go from primary school to secondary education. In the old school system, students could then choose between the "grammar school", which among other things trained for the university, or to the less prestigious secondary schools. Today these two school types are combined.

At the age of sixteen, students participate in the GCSE, the General Certificate School Exam. After this they are free to look for a job. More and more students, however, stick to it for another two years at a sort of "high school", known in England under the "Sixth Form". They then try to pass an "A" or "Advanced level exam", after which they can possibly transfer to a university.

Eton College EnglandEton College EnglandPhoto: Kazimierz Mendlik CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The two main institutes of university education are the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, founded in 1167 and 1209 respectively. Both are world famous and attract students from all over the world. There are approximately 80 colleges and universities spread across the United Kingdom. All universities are independent in name, but in practice they are all, except Buckingham University, dependent on state funding. Since the sixties of the last century, there is also an Open University, where one can obtain a university degree through distance learning.

England is also known for its famous private schools. Some well-known names are Eton and Harrow. Many decades ago, many children of the social and political elite attended schools of this kind. Typically, the exclusive Eton College, a boys' school founded in 1440, has yielded eighteen prime ministers so far. Eton College was founded by young Henry VI, and then consisted of a church, a hospice, and a secular priestly community that taught seventy choir monks and students for free.

However, the influence of the private schools has become less and less in recent years.



Steam engine-powered weaving mill in EnglandSteam engine-powered weaving mill in EnglandPhoto:public domain

The Industrial Revolution in particular made the United Kingdom the first major industrial nation, making it the world's largest economic power. In the areas of trade, transport, industrial production and banking and insurance, there was an unprecedented boom. Around 1900, competition from the United States and certain European countries began to decline. After World War I, many industries proved obsolete and the United Kingdom gradually lost its predominant position. Added to this was the loss of most colonies after 1945, which narrowed the economic base. After the war years, the recovery with an economic growth of 2 to 3% per year (1945-1971) was slower than in most other Western European countries. Growth only increased to 2.3% per year between 1980 and 1986, to 3.8% in 1986-1987. After the Second World War, the Labor government started the nationalization of, among others, the coal mines, the iron and steel industry, the railways and some other transport companies and health care. State-owned enterprises employed 8% of the labor force in the late 1970s, accounting for 10% of national production and 14% of total investment. After 1980 these percentages dropped sharply as many sectors were privatized again by the conservative government of Margaret Thatcher.

In the early 1970s, the "oil crisis" triggered a severe recession, with high inflation of nearly 22% in 1976 and high unemployment. The 1980s were initially quite successful with rising GDP growth, a falling government deficit and falling inflation. At the end of the 1990s, the economic was 2.3%, but the trade balance became increasingly negative, as did the declining balance of payments surplus. Major oil finds and exports have prevented an even more marked decline in balances.

Currently (2017) approximately 16% of the labor force is employed in industry; over 83% are active in the services sector and only 1% are employed in agriculture.

The unemployment rate is lowest in the south of England, while unemployment is high in many old industrial areas and inner cities. On the positive side, the number of women in the workforce has increased by 10% since 1965, albeit often through part-time jobs.

London Financial DistrictLondon Financial DistrictPhoto: Michael Duxbury(CC BY 2.0) no changes made

In 1998, the UK was only ranked fifth among the largest economic powers, and in terms of wealth per capita it was not even in the top twenty. Nevertheless, the country is of course still very important from a global economic point of view, with the capital London, for example, as one of the most important financial centers in the world. The government is fully aware that if the United Kingdom continues to play an important economic role in the 21st century, economic modernization is vital. Important matters in this are to keep up to date with the latest technological developments and to find alternatives to traditional forms of industry (e.g. mining and heavy industry).

Services have quickly become the most important economic sector and now (2017) already account for 80% of GDP. The two main sectors are banking and insurance, and the tourism, communications and information technology sectors are booming.

Industry accounted for 20% of GDP in 2017 (in particular the construction and production of goods and energy), agriculture only 0.7%. Economic growth is 1.7% (2017)

All the figures mentioned will be subject to fluctuations in the coming period depending on the course of Brexit (withdrawal from the EU) and how it has been handled.

Agricultural sector, forestry and fisheries


Farmland EnglandFarmland EnglandPhoto: Philip Halling CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Agriculture occupies approximately 77% of the land area and accounts for approximately 70% of British food production.

The agricultural cultivated land comprises approx. 186,000 km2, of which approx. 64% consists of arable land, garden land, orchards and grasslands, so-called "improved land". The rest of the agricultural cultivated land is called "rough grazing", including poor natural pastures on mountain slopes and moors. Heather fields cover about 1/6 of the cultivated land in England. About 37% of the improved land is taken up by arable land (mainly grains, oats and barley).

Almost half of the farms are smaller than the minimum size required by the European Union for a professional farm. About 75% of farmers work full-time in agriculture. In total, approximately 550,000 people work in the agricultural sector.

Mechanization and research have contributed significantly to the intensification of British agriculture and horticulture. For example, between 1961 and 1981 the production of oats and potatoes increased by 63% respectively. 45%. Government policy has always been aimed at promoting mergers. Agriculture contributed 0.7% to the gross national product in 2017, while 1% of the labor force found work there.

Sheep Farming EnglandSheep Farming EnglandPhoto: Philip HallingCC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Livestock farming (especially in the west) occupies a dominant place in agricultural production. Slaughter cattle breeding is the most important; sheep farming is important for both meat and wool.

The area of horticultural land has decreased since World War II, but production has remained stable due to the strong intensification. Most horticulture is located in Kent and the West Midlands.

In 2000 incomes per farmer fell to the lowest level of the last 25 years. This agricultural crisis was partly caused by low prices and the growing food processing industry worldwide. The traditionally small English farms could no longer compete. Another cause was the outbreak of BSE or mad cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease (millions of animals were killed), which not only caused much damage to affected farmers but also affected confidence in English agricultural products in general. In recent years, agriculture has slowly recovered from all the blows it has endured. Organic farming is growing strongly.


Only about 10% of the land area of Great Britain is covered with forest (2.8 million ha), and then special forest that is maintained and productive. About 50% of these forests are found in England, 40% in Scotland and the rest in Wales.

Nearly 45% of this forest is managed by the Forestry Commission, which is part of the government. The forest area is expanded annually, a quarter of which is commissioned by the government and three-quarters by order of private individuals. Most planting takes place in mountain areas, especially in Scotland (1998: almost 16,000 ha).

UK timber demand is covered only to a limited extent by domestic production; approx. 85% of all wood products are imported.


Fishing Boats EnglandFishing Boats EnglandPhoto: Gary Radford CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

British fisheries lost much of their importance in the 1970s and 1980s, but still account for about two thirds of their national needs for fish and fish products.
The main English fishing ports are: Kingston upon Hull, Great Grimsby, Aberdeen, Fraserburgh in the Grampian Region, Peterhead, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.


Coal, petroleum and natural gas are the most important minerals. The main mining areas in England are those of Yorkshire-Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire and Durham-Northumberland.

In recent years, a large number of less profitable mines have been closed, and as a result, coal production has decreased tremendously. The main domestic customers for coal are the power plants.

Oil Platform in the North Sea EnglandOil Platform in the North Sea EnglandPhoto: NAC CC 4.0 International no changes made

The oil fields on the British continental shelf in the North Sea are very important to the United Kingdom. Britain has been self-sufficient since 1980. British petroleum reserves are estimated at 4.8 billion tons. Oil extraction and processing is very capital intensive, which largely explains the large difference between the share of mining in employment (1%) and that in GDP (7.1%).

The North Sea has also supplied natural gas since 1962, which is operated by three subsidiaries of the state-owned British Gas. The gas reserves are likely to be sufficient for domestic consumption for the time being.

Minerals are also extracted: iron ore, sand, gravel, limestone, salt, slate and kaolin.



Despite the fact that Britain has lost its leading position in many industrial sectors, it is still a major producer of woolen goods (the oldest British staple industry), computers and other office equipment, telecommunications equipment, glass, iron and steel. The British Steel Corp. was remediated in the early 1980s and privatized in 1988. By closing old factories, introducing new technologies and reducing jobs, productivity could be considerably increased. Today, this company is the fourth largest steel producer worldwide, producing 85% of total British production. In shipbuilding, the production of off-shore resources was only able to partly halt the downturn. The most expanding sectors are the electronics, chemical and automotive industries. The aviation and aerospace industry is also important. Production ranges from civilian and military satellites to hovercraft. The British Aerospace Corp. is one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world. The chemical industry is in third place from a European perspective.

In Britain, industrial employment and production (as a percentage of GDP) have fallen significantly since 1966. Growth industries have settled mainly in the West London area, as well as, but to a lesser extent, in some Scottish cities. See also Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales.


Headquarters of Pharmacy giant GlaxoSmithKline EnglandHeadquarters of Pharmacy giant GlaxoSmithKline EnglandPhoto: Maxwell Hamilton CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The United Kingdom is a leader in Europe in the field of biotechnology, in particular chemical, agricultural, pharmaceutical and environmental technology companies (approx. 550 companies, over 40,000 employees). The South East England (including Oxford) and East England (including Cambridge) regions are home to many life science companies.


The British electronics industry employs more than 400,000 people and turnover in this sector is increasing every year. The production of computers, office equipment, radio, television and communication equipment grew rapidly in the period 1990-2000.

The production of medical and optical instruments and electrical equipment decreased during the same period.

Most employment, especially administrative and sales functions, in this sector is in the South of England. The computer industry is the largest in Europe.


Approximately 300,000 people work in this sector, mainly in the Southeast, East and Midlands.

British companies are best known for their mechanical engineering, and mainly manufacture fuel engines, pumps, compressors, tractors, construction and earthmoving machines and textile machines.

These types of products are mainly purchased by national and international companies in the construction, aircraft, automotive and metalware industries.

The steel industry is mainly located in the south of Wales. A lot of post-processing takes place in Northern England, the Midlands and Yorkshire. The main company in this sector is Corus, the former British Steel and merged with the Dutch Hoogovens. Corus employs around 25,000 people in the UK, is the sixth largest steel producer in the world and the second largest producer in Europe. The vast majority of British steel production is processed in the construction and automotive world.


 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera England Aston Martin DBS Superleggera EnglandPhoto: YLeclerc CC 4.0 International no changes made

The past two decades have seen tremendous growth in the British automotive industry. In 2002, around 1.8 million cars were produced in the UK, making it fourth in Europe. Sales in 2002 were £40 billion.

Major players such as Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda and Nissan make for one of the most competitive and dynamic automotive industries in the world.

Approx. one third of the total production comes from the West Midlands, where most car manufacturers and suppliers are located.


One of the largest sectors of the food industry is the market for bread and breakfast products. The sandwich market alone has a total value in excess of £3 billion.

Britons drink more than 2 liters of milk a week, making them one of the largest milk drinkers in the world. The UK dairy industry supplies almost 70% of the domestic cheese demand. More than 400 cheeses are produced in the UK, with cheddar being the most popular.

Beer and whiskey are traditionally the major alcoholic drinks in England, the production of which is important for employment.

Vineyards can be found in the southern half of England. Mainly white wine is produced. Apple and pear cider are mainly produced in the west and southwest of England. Bulmers, acquired in 2003 by Scottish & Newcastle brewery, is the largest cider producer in the world.

Clothing and fashion sector

The clothing and fashion sector is one of the main industries in the United Kingdom. Most clothing companies are located in the Midlands, North and East London and the North East. More than 200,000 people work in this sector.

The footwear industry is highly developed in Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Somerset and Lancashire. In particular, many shoes are imported from Asia and other low-wage countries.


Londen Stock Exchange at Paternoster Square Londen Stock Exchange at Paternoster SquarePhoto: Gren in the public domain

Britain is one of the most important trading nations in the world. The country exports many aviation products, motor vehicles, electrical appliances, chemicals, petroleum related products, tobacco and machinery. In particular, exports of raw materials grew strongly in the 1980s. Exports of services also increased. After the fall of the dollar, the United Kingdom is the world's largest net exporter of international services.

The relative decline in economic relations with the Commonwealth countries since the 1960s has been offset by an increase in trade with EU countries.
The UK has been facing a trade deficit for years. The causes of this shortage are the fall in the price of crude oil, an increase in imports and higher domestic demand.

In 2017, Germany, the United States, China, France, Ireland and the Netherlands were the main trading partners of the United Kingdom.

Banking sector

Bank of EnglandBank of EnglandPhoto: Public domain

Nearly 500 foreign banks are located in the United Kingdom, mainly with a foreign clientele. London in particular, of course, has a large concentration of domestic and foreign banks. In fact, the insurance market is the largest in the world. The London stock exchange has the most listings after New York and Tokyo.

The central bank, the "Bank of England", was established in 1694. It handles domestic and foreign payment transactions, the issue and distribution of coins and banknotes. The Bank of England is also the house bank of the government. The banking sector will change as a result of Brexit.



The UK merchant fleet is losing global significance, with Britain and Northern Ireland counting more than 300 major and minor seaports. The main ports are: London, Liverpool, Manchester, Southampton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The main container port is Felixstowe. A very small part of the canals and rivers are used for commercial shipping.


Heathrow Terminal 3 EnglandHeathrow Terminal 3 EnglandPhoto: Panhard CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

There are 21 major commercial airports, of which Heathrow (London) is by far the largest, with Gatwick coming in close.
Privatized in 1987, British Airways is the main airline and generates almost half of the UK airline industry's revenues.


British Railways were transformed into a state-owned company under the name British Railways in 1947. The length of the railway network is approximately 32,000 km. The railway tunnel under the Channel was commissioned in 1994.


In 2003, the road network consisted of 391,701 km, including main roads, which are entirely borne by the state, of which 3,000 km are motorways, 35,000 km are so-called principal roads, which are partly borne by the county in which they lie, and approx. 304,000 km other roads, which are the financial responsibility of the local authorities. Motorways were not started until 1955.
Road freight is very important for inland transport; approx. 80% of all goods are transported by truck.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Tourism to the UK has become one of the major economic sectors with a total value of almost £80 billion. In total, more than 2 million people work in the tourism sector, which is about 7.5% of the total workforce.

A crossing to England is possible from many ports. Domestic tourism yielded much more, however, at around £ 61 billion. London is by far the most important destination. More than half of all tourists visit the capital for at least one day.

England has many tourist attractions, we limit ourselves here to some of the best known, followed by the short description of a number of cities that are also extensively described on the city pages of Landenweb.

Stonehendge EnglandStonehendge EnglandPhoto: Simon Wakefield CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Stonehenge near Salisbury is surrounded by a mystery. Here you see a circle of megalithic stones that date from around 2300 BC. It is almost certain that the monument was used as a cemetery, but it could also be a health center or a place of sacrifice. Today, people come to this magical place to experience the solstice.

Hadrian's Wall EnglandHadrian's Wall EnglandPhoto: Carole Raddato CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Hadrian's Wall runs from coast to coast, marking the northern border of the Roman Empire. As the name implies, the wall was built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. Construction took place between 122 and 128 AD and was intended to protect against attacks from the Picts. Currently, Hadrian's Wall is a major tourist attraction due to the hiking trail that attracts many tourists every year.

Lake District EnglandLake District EnglandPhoto: Abbasi1111 CC3.0 Unported no changes made

In the north of England you will find the Lake District, which is a much visited National Park with the highest mountain peaks in England and sixteen lakes, the most famous of which is Lake Windermere. In Victorian times, the Lake District was a travel destination for the elite. The poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge lived here and were known as the Lake Poets. Today it has increasingly become a destination for mass tourism. Another beautiful National Park is the Peak District in the middle of England.

Land's End, Cornwall, EnglandLand's End, Cornwall, EnglandPhoto: Kevin Law CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Cornwall is located in the extreme South West of England. Due to the passing Gulf Stream, Cornwall has a very soft climate, even palm trees grow. The westernmost part is called Land's End, which is a major tourist attraction. St Ives is a busy city with many galleries and a museum in honor of the great sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Popular with hikers is the Cornwell Coastal Path where you can take the necessary altimeters while enjoying spectacular vistas. You can also surf in Corwall, especially the place Newquay is popular.

Tower of London EnglandTower of London EnglandPhoto: Rafa Esteve CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

London is the largest city and also the capital of England. In London, tourists line up for a myriad of attractions. The best known are Madame Tussauds, which has many wax figures of the greats. You can get spooky at the London Dungeon. On the riverbank, the London Eye has a Ferris wheel with a wide view of the city. One of the biggest attractions around Buckingham Palace is the Changing of the Guard. This happens every day at every British palace and a whole ceremony is held around it. The guards are not allowed to move during their work, only during the switch ceremony. The ceremony has been around for centuries and takes about 45 minutes. The Changing of the Guard starts at 11:30 every day at Buckingham Palace in London. London Bridge is the bridge we all know from the English children's song: "London Bridge is fallen down". The bridge connects the City of London and Southwark neighborhoods. The first bridge on this site was built by the Romans, but was often destroyed, damaged, rebuilt, restored and rebuilt. From the 14th century, it became a tradition to place the severed heads of traitors along the bridge. It was not until 1660 that this sinister habit was broken. London Bridge is often confused with Tower Bridge. However, Tower Bridge is more imposing than London Bridge and was not completed until 1884. Tower Bridge is beautifully lit at night. Both bridges are very special and it is definitely worth walking over them. Read more on the London page of Landenweb.

Liverpool EnglandLiverpool EnglandPhoto: Beverley Goodwin CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Liverpool is a city on the east bank of the River Mersey in England. When it comes to Liverpool, most people think of two things: the football club of the same name and the city of the world-famous pop group The Beatles. The big tourist attraction is taking a Beatles tour of Liverpool. Many companies offer such a tour, from two hours to a full day. Visit the Beatles' Liverpool and see Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, The Cavern, The Casbah and all the schools and homes the Beatles once lived in. Often you can also request a personal touch for your own "Magical Mystery Tour".

A special attraction for tourists is Speke Hall, a mansion from the Tudor period in the south of the city. It is one of Liverpool's oldest houses and was built in 1598. The building is one of the few surviving Tudor timber houses. The Anglican Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Britain and the fifth largest in the world. The cathedral is built in Gothic style and is considered one of the largest buildings of the 20th century. Read more on the Liverpool page of country web.

Manchester Townhall EnglandManchester Townhall EnglandPhoto: Mark Andrew CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Manchester is a city and district in the North West of England. The city displays a wide variety of architectural styles, ranging from Victorian to contemporary architecture. Built in the Neo-Gothic style, Manchester Town Hall in Albert Square is considered one of the most important Victorian buildings in England. Manchester's museums exhibit objects from Roman history and rich industrial heritage, emphasizing the city's role in the Industrial Revolution. Opened to the public in the 1880s, the Manchester Museum has remarkable collections from ancient Egypt and fine natural history collections. The Manchester Art Gallery on Mosley Street has an extensive permanent collection of European painting. Manchester is known as a city of sports. Two Premier League football clubs are named after the city, Manchester City and Manchester United. Visiting a match is a highlight for many tourists. Read more on the Manchester page of Landenweb.

Birmingham EnglandBirmingham EnglandPhoto: Jimmy Guano CC 4.0 International no changes made

Birmingham is a city and district in the West Midlands County of England and it is the most populous British city after London. Because Birmingham mainly developed during the Industrial Revolution, relatively few buildings from earlier history have been preserved. In contrast, there are many buildings from the Georgian period and Birmingham has developed into a modern city with exciting architecture and a number of top museums such as Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, best known for its excellent collection of Pre-Raphaelite painters. There are also old masters, including important works by Bellini, Rubens, Canaletto and Claude Monet. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Edgbaston, is one of the most beautiful small art galleries in the world and showcases a collection of exceptional quality representing Western art from the thirteenth century to the present. Birmingham nightlife is mainly concentrated along Broad Street and the city hosts many festivals. Read more on the Birmingham page of Landenweb.

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Allport, A. / England
Chelsea House

Bowden, R. / Groot-Brittannië

Engeland, Wales

Lonely Planet

Rough Guides

Fuller, B. / Britain
Marshall Cavendish

Michelin Reisuitgaven

Locke, T. / Engeland
Van Reemst

Parsons, F.S. / Engeland
Van Reemst,

Schaedtler, K. / Highlights van Engeland en Wales

Somerville, C. / Groot-Brittannië

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated December 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb