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1UpTravel - Geography Info and Facts of Countries : . - United Kingdom

United Kingdom Geography and Facts

Location: Western Europe, islands including the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, northwest of France

Geographic coordinates: 54 00 N, 2 00 W

Map references: Europe

total: 244,820 sq km
land: 241,590 sq km
water: 3,230 sq km
note: includes Rockall and Shetland Islands

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon

Land boundaries:
total: 360 km
border countries: Ireland 360 km

Coastline: 12,429 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: as defined in continental shelf orders or in accordance with agreed upon boundaries
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast

Terrain: mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Fenland -4 m
highest point: Ben Nevis 1,343 m

Natural resources: coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, silica, arable land

Land use:
arable land: 25%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 46%
forests and woodland: 10%
other: 19% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,080 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: NA

Environment - current issues: sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants contribute to air pollution; some rivers polluted by agricultural wastes; and coastal waters polluted because of large-scale disposal of sewage at sea

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Geography - note: lies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from France and now linked by tunnel under the English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters


The UK is an island nation, separated from continental Europe by the English Channel, from Scandinavia by the North Sea, and from neighboring Ireland (including the territory of Northern Ireland) by the Irish Sea. The largest island, Great Britain, is a little more than 900 kilometers (about 600 miles) from north to south, and encompasses England, Scotland, and Wales.

Extensive groups of smaller islands lie off Scotland's north and west coasts, including the rocky and remote Shetlands, Orkneys, and Western Isles. The Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, and the Channel Islands in the English Channel, are semi-autonomous dependencies, while the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast, enjoys the status of a county.


The Atlantic Ocean has a significant effect on Britain's climate. Although the British Isles are as far north in latitude as Labrador in Canada, they have a mild climate throughout the year. This is due to the Gulf Stream, a current of warm water that flows up from the Caribbean past Britain.

Prevailing southwesterly winds moving across this warmer water bring moisture and moderating temperatures to the British Isles. The surrounding waters are moderate with temperatures all year-round, making the UK warmer in winter and cooler in summer than other areas at the same latitude.

Great Britain's western coast tends to be warmer than the eastern coast, and the southern regions tend to be warmer than the northern regions. The annual temperature in the far north of Scotland is 6 C (43 F), and warmer in the southwestern England about 11 C(52 F).

In general, temperatures are ordinarily around 15 C (60 F) in the summer and around 5 C (40 F) in the winter. Temperatures rarely ever exceed 32 C (90 F) or drop below -10 C (14 F) anywhere in the British Isles. In general,when the temperature dips below 0 C (32 F),frost are rare.

Winds blowing off the Atlantic Ocean bring clouds and large amounts of moisture to the British Isles. Average annual precipitation is more than 1000 mm (40 in), varying from the extremes of 5000 mm (196 in) in the western Highlands of Scotland to less than 500 mm (20 in) in the driest parts of East Anglia in England.

The western part of Britain receives much more moisture than the eastern areas. It rains year-round, and in the winter the rain may change to snow, particularly in the north. It snows infrequently in the south, and when it does it is likely to be wet, slushy, and short-lived. Southern Britain has experienced episodes of drought in recent years, although historically these are rare occurrences. Some regard these episodes as indicators of global climatic changes.


Britain, the dominant industrial and maritime power of the nineteenth century, played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. The British Empire covered approximately one-fourth of the earth's surface at its zenith. In the first half of the twentieth century its strength was seriously depleted by two world wars.

Since the end of World War II, the British Empire has been dismantled, and Britain has rebuilt itself into a prosperous, modern European nation with significant international political, cultural, and economic influence. As the twentieth century draws to a close, Britain is debating the degree of its integration with continental Europe.

While a member of the EU, for the time being it is staying out of the euro system introduced in January 1999. Constitutional reform, including the House of Lords and the devolution of power to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, is an ongoing issue in Great Britain.

United Kingdom is an island country in northwestern Europe. More than 70 countries are larger in size, and the United Kingdom has only about 1 per cent of the world's people. It has few natural resources.

Yet for hundreds of years, the United Kingdom has been one of the world's most important countries. The British started the Industrial Revolution. They founded the largest empire in history. They have produced some of the world's greatest scientists, explorers, artists, and political leaders.

The United Kingdom is really four countries united under one government. These countries are England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

The nation's official name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Most people call the country the United Kingdom, the UK, Great Britain, or simply Britain. London is the capital and largest city.

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