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Geography and Climate
So, what is the United Kingdom?
To give it its full title it’s ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. You might hear it referred to as Britain, Great Britain or more often, simply as ‘The UK’.
Four countries make up the UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It consists of a group of islands – 2 large ones and several hundred smaller ones. By far the largest island is that which is divided into three countries – England, Wales and Scotland. This island is about 700 miles long and is 300 miles at its widest point. At its nearest point only the 22 miles of the English Channel separate it from the coast of France.
England’s capital London is also the capital city of the UK. Most of England consists of lowland with some mountainous terrain northwest of a line drawn between the Humber estuary in the East and the river Exe in the Southwest.
Wales, with its capital Cardiff, lies to the West having a coastline adjacent to the Irish Sea. It is more mountainous than England, particularly in North and Mid Wales.
To the North is Scotland which consists of two very distinct regions known as the Highlands and the Lowlands. The Highlands region is to the North and West of the country and is much more mountainous than its lowland sister. The rugged terrain of the highlands ensures the region is sparsely populated.
The Lowlands region is home to most of Scotland’s population. It’s here where Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh and the larger city of Glasgow will be found.
Crossing the Irish Sea takes us to Ireland of which only the north eastern corner (Northern Ireland) is part of the UK. The rest of this island is a separate country, the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland, with its capital, Belfast, is a hilly region boasting the largest inland body of water in the UK, Lough Neagh, at 150 square miles.
The prevailing winds tend to come from the southwest, bringing with them frequent spells of mild but wet weather from the Atlantic Ocean. Overall though the climate is fairly temperate and similar to much of northern Europe.