The United Kingdom


The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is made up of four countries that were joined together in a union in 1922:
  • England (with London as its capital and famous for: scones, green hills and red roses);
  • Scotland (with Edinburgh as its capital and famous for: bag pipes, fresh water lochs (lakes) and kilts);
  • Wales (with Cardiff as its capital and famous for: coal mining, Welsh lamb and daffodils);
  • Northern Ireland (with Belfast as its capital and famous for: Guiness ale, the Giant's Causeway and three-leaved shamrock plants).

The UK has a population of just over 62 million people. Most of them speak English, however there are also five regional languages too: Welsh in Wales, Gaelic and Scots in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Irish in Northern Ireland and Cornish in Cornwall.

The people of UK are ruled by a monarch (king or queen) who is called the head of state. They vote for members of the Parliament to set laws for them to follow, with the: Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly setting the laws in: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

London Parliament 2007-1

The UK also rules a number of smaller places around the world known as overseas territories. These remainders from the British Empire that grew in the Victorian period are: Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Antarctic Territory, the British Indian Ocean Territory, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Pitcairn Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Cars drive on the left hand side of the road in the UK and the official currency (monetary unit) is the Pound sterling - although some towns have their own local currency too because it encourages people to only visit their local shops (such as the: Calderdale Green Currency, Totnes Pound and Lewes Pound).

Jersey Pound Coin

The British Isles are made up of several islands. These include: Great Britain (the mainland of England, Scotland and Wales), the Orkneys, the Shetlands, the Hebrides, the Isle of Wight, the Isles of Scilly and Lundy Island. Three crown dependencies are also part of the British Isles - whilst these are ruled by the same monarch as the rest of the UK, they are not part of the UK so can set their own laws:
  • the Isle of Man (with Douglas as its capital and famous for: Manx cats with no tail, the oldest parliament in the world called Tynwald and the TT motorbike races);
  • the Bailiwick of Jersey in the Channel Islands (with Saint Helier as its capital and famous for: potatoes, cows and its annual Battle of Flowers parade);
  • the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the Channel Islands (with Saint Peter Port as its capital and famous for: wool, beaches and a car-free policy on the island of Sark).