Discovering the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional monarchy. The UK consists of four countries: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. It has a prosperous and developed economy, rich history, and diverse cultures.

The United Kingdom is in Western Europe and is part of the EU. The country stretches over some 243,610 km² and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Northern Sea. London is United Kingdom's capital city. Its biggest cities include Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff, Liverpool, Leeds, and Edinburgh.

There are also many islands that are part of the UK. Scotland alone has 800 islands but not all are inhabited.

Demography of the United Kingdom 

The United Kingdom has a population of over 63 million inhabitants and has a landmass of approximately 243,610, making it one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. The population also includes a high concentration of expatriates coming from around the world due to the immigration rate which continues to grow over the years.

The United Kingdom's official language is English and Welsh. In wales both languages are taught in public schools. There are also several other languages spoken in the UK (although rarer) including celtic Irish and celtic Scottish.

The UK is also home to many regional dialects, slang and accents. The most famous regional dialect is the Yorkshire dialect which has roots in Old English and Old Norse, the language spoken by the Viking invaders.

There are a huge number of accents in the UK, and are sometimes so densely variable that one nearby town can have a different accent from another. The most famous accents are:

  • Scouse (Liverpool)
  • Glaswegian
  • The ‘manc’ accent (Manchester)
  • Yorkshire/Lancashire
  • Cockney (London)
  • Gordie (Newcaslte)
  • Bristolian accent
  • Northern Irish (very different to Republic of Ireland accent)
  • The Valleys (Wales)

 Good to know: France is over twice the size of the UK and has 66 million inhabitants, only three million more than the UK.

Economy in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita amounted to USD 2,849 billion  in 2015. The United Kingdom is the second most powerful economy in the EU and the world's fifth largest economy. Its economy is based on several sectors such as energy, trade, healthcare, financial services, construction, civil and military aviation, chemical and pharmaceutical industry, the creative industry including art, film, fashion, as well as new technologies, science, and tourism.

The United Kingdom is part of the European Union, the World Trade Organization, the Group of Eight (G8), the Commonwealth, the Economic Cooperation, and Development Organization.

 Important: The UK is currently undergoing political procedures to leave the European Union, and is scheduled to do so by 2019.


The United Kingdom is a parliamentary monarchy. The Queen Elizabeth II holds the royal power, but the executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister who is voted in by the people and officially appointed by the Queen. The current British Prime Minister is Theresa May and her cabinet consists of 22 ministers. The country is regulated by constitutional conventions, customs, and common law.

The United Kingdom is quite a complicated political system in the sense that it is a kingdom with 4 countries that each have their own government, but are ultimately ran by the Queen and the UK prime minister.

The UK government is based in London and overseas all 4 countries and has the ultimate executive power. Each region in the UK also has a council which runs regional matters, appoints a representative for the UK parliament as well as answering to their country’s government on regional matters. Any UK proceedings or legislations are addressed in the UK parliament in London.

 Good to know: Scotland recently held a referendum on independence, the Scottish people voted to remain but now have many more laws in place that ensure they are more independent from London, both politically and economically, compared to Northern Ireland and Wales.

Climate and landscape in the UK

The UK climate varies hugely depending on where you live. If you live in the South of England, you will enjoy much more milder weather and sunnier summers. If you live in Northern England or Northern Ireland, you will have much more rain and lower temperatures. Scotland is known for being particularly cold and humid. If you live in one of the many areas by the sea, you will enjoy much windier and oceanic climates.

There are some areas in the UK that are considered warmer micro-climates, these include parts of Wales, South-west England, and the Isle of Scilly.

The UK landscape is best known for its rolling green countryside, many scenic rivers, stunning hills, and mountains. Although this is the reality, the UK is much more diverse. The many large cities in the UK offer vibrant, urban labyrinths with many architectural building still standing that span more than 400 years but also many modern buildings made of glass, brick or concrete. The UK also has many beautiful beaches along its entire cost from Cornwall to Northern Scotland.

The UK was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and so many towns and cities have an industrial identity, with many factories and warehouses present across the city or town. The UK went through a post-industrial slump during the 20th century and had many empty industrial-looking buildings littered across the UK. The country has luckily awoken from its slumber and uses the grit of their industrial past, modern innovation and its economic boom to convert many of its old industrial buildings into chic loft apartments, art galleries or trendy cultural and social spaces.

 Good to know: There are many canal networks in the UK, which amount to 2,200 miles. The canals were originally used during the Industrial Revolution but now serve as scenic routes to travel across the country and trendy social scenes in large cities.

 Useful Links

Visit Britain
The UK Government explained
UK Canals and Rivers
British Culture and Social norms