The United Kingdom comprising of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in the Western Europe. Lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland, it includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to its east, the English Channel to its south and the Celtic Sea to its south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of governance. The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 6 February 1952. The capital of the UK and its largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million, the fourth-largest in Europe.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT UK
- The word “Britain” is derived from the name of a Celtic tribe, the Brythons.
- The word “England” comes from “Angle-land,” or land of the Angli, or Angles, a Viking tribe that came across the North Sea and settled in the east and north. The French name for England, Angle Terre, also literally means “Land of the Angles.”
- Britain is the only country in the world which does not have its name on its post age stamps, as they invented postage stamps.
- There is only a 21-mile (34-km) gap between England and France, and the countries are connected by the Channel Tunnel, which opened in 1994. It is the world’s second longest underground tunnel; Japan’s Seikan Tunnel is the first.
- Champagne was invented in England by scientist Christopher Merret in 1662.
- James Bond’s code “007” was inspired by the author Ian Fleming’s bus route from Canterbury to London.
- J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, is the first writer in the world to become a billionaire. The seven books have sold a total of 400 million copies in her native England and around the world and are published in 55 languages, including Latin and ancient Greek. Rowling is only one of five self-made female billionaires in the world.
- Windsor Castle is the largest royal home in the world. It is also the oldest continually inhabited royal residence in Britain, having been built by William the Conqueror around A.D. 1080
Currency: Pound sterling
Population: 64.1 million