Geography of the United Kingdom

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Coordinates: 54°0′N2°30′W / 54.000°N 2.500°W / 54.000; -2.500

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Contents

Geography of the United Kingdom
Satellite image of the United Kingdom.jpg
ContinentEurope
RegionWestern/Northern Europe
Coordinates 54°0′N2°30′W / 54.000°N 2.500°W / 54.000; -2.500
Area Ranked 78th
  Total242,495 [Note 1]  km2 (93,628 sq mi)
  Land99.31%
  Water0.69%
Coastline12,429 km (7,723 mi)
Borders499 km land border with Ireland
Highest point1,344 m Ben Nevis
Lowest point-4 m The Fens
Longest river River Severn (354 km)
Largest lake Lough Neagh (392 km2)
Climate Temperate, with some areas of Scotland being Tundra, and Subarctic
TerrainMountainous area to the north and west, lowland area to the south and east.
Natural ResourcesCoal, oil (continental shelf of the North Sea), natural gas, tin, limestone, iron, salt, clay, lead
Natural HazardsStorms, floods
Environmental IssuesSulfur dioxide emissions from power plants, some rivers are contaminated by agricultural waste, wastewater into the sea
Exclusive economic zoneIn Europe: 773,676 km2 (298,718 sq mi)
All overseas territories: 6,805,586 km2 (2,627,651 sq mi)

The United Kingdom is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. With a total area of approximately 248,532 square kilometres (95,960 sq mi), the UK occupies the major part of the British Isles archipelago and includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern one-sixth of the island of Ireland and many smaller surrounding islands. [1] It is the world's 7th largest island country. [2] The mainland areas lie between latitudes 49°N and 59°N (the Shetland Islands reach to nearly 61°N), and longitudes 8°W to 2°E. The Royal Greenwich Observatory, in South East London, is the defining point of the Prime Meridian.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north­western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north­eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Sovereign state Political organization with a centralized independent government

In international law, a sovereign state, sovereign country, or simply state, is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood that a sovereign state is neither dependent or non subjected to any other power or state.

Continental Europe continent of Europe, excluding European islands

Continental or mainland Europe is the continuous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. It can also be referred to ambiguously as the European continent – which can conversely mean the whole of Europe – and by Europeans, simply the Continent.

The UK lies between the North Atlantic and the North Sea, and comes within 35 km (22 mi) of the north-west coast of France, from which it is separated by the English Channel. It shares a 499 km international land boundary with the Republic of Ireland. [3] [4] The Channel Tunnel bored beneath the English Channel, now links the UK with France.

North Sea marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean

The North Sea is a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean located between Great Britain, Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. An epeiric sea on the European continental shelf, it connects to the ocean through the English Channel in the south and the Norwegian Sea in the north. It is more than 970 kilometres (600 mi) long and 580 kilometres (360 mi) wide, with an area of 570,000 square kilometres (220,000 sq mi).

France Republic in Europe with several non-European regions

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

English Channel Arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France

The English Channel, also called simply the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates Southern England from northern France and links to the southern part of the North Sea by the Strait of Dover at its northeastern end. It is the busiest shipping area in the world.

The British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are covered in their own respective articles, see below.

British Overseas Territories Territories under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom

The British Overseas Territories (BOTs) or United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs) are fourteen territories under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not been granted independence or have voted to remain British territories. These territories do not form part of the United Kingdom and, with the exception of Gibraltar, are not part of the European Union. Most of the permanently inhabited territories are internally self-governing, with the UK retaining responsibility for defence and foreign relations. Three are inhabited only by a transitory population of military or scientific personnel. They all share the British monarch as head of state.

Area

The total area of the United Kingdom according to the Office for National Statistics is 248,532 square kilometres (95,960 sq mi), comprising the island of Great Britain, the northeastern one-sixth of the island of Ireland (Northern Ireland) and many smaller islands. This makes it the 7th largest island country in the world. [2] England is the largest country of the United Kingdom, at 132,938 square kilometres (51,330 sq mi) accounting for just over half the total area of the UK. Scotland at 80,239 square kilometres (30,980 sq mi), is second largest, accounting for about a third of the area of the UK. Wales and Northern Ireland are much smaller, covering 21,225 and 14,130 square kilometres (8,200 and 5,460 sq mi) respectively. [5]

The Office for National Statistics is the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority, a non-ministerial department which reports directly to the UK Parliament.

Great Britain Island in the North Atlantic off the northwest coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

Geography of England

England comprises most of the central and southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain, in addition to a number of small islands of which the largest is the Isle of Wight. England is bordered to the north by Scotland and to the west by Wales. It is closer to continental Europe than any other part of mainland Britain, divided from France only by a 33 km (21 mi) sea gap, the English Channel. The 50 km (31 mi) Channel Tunnel, near Folkestone, directly links England to mainland Europe. The English/French border is halfway along the tunnel.

The area of the countries of the United Kingdom is set out in the table below. Information about the area of England, the largest country, is also broken down by region.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Country Region that is identified as a distinct entity in political geography

A country is a region that is identified as a distinct entity in political geography.

Regions of England Highest tier of sub-national division in England

The regions, formerly known as the government office regions, are the highest tier of sub-national division in England. Between 1994 and 2011, nine regions had officially devolved functions within government. While they no longer fulfill this role, they continue to be used for statistical and some administrative purposes. They define areas (constituencies) for the purposes of elections to the European Parliament. Eurostat also uses them to demarcate first level Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) regions within the European Union. The regions generally follow the boundaries of the former standard regions, established in the 1940s for statistical purposes.

RankNameArea
1 England

South West [6]
East of England
South East [7]
East Midlands
Yorkshire and the Humber
North West [8]
West Midlands [9]
North East [10]
London [11]

132,938 km²

23,837 km²
19,120 km²
19,096 km²
15,627 km²
15,420 km²
14,165 km²
12,998 km²
8,592 km²
1,572 km²

2 Scotland 80,239 km²
3 Wales 21,225 km²
4 Northern Ireland 14,130 km²
United Kingdom 248,532 km²
Overseas territories 1,727,570 km²

The British Antarctic Territory, which covers an area of 1,709,400 km2 is geographically the largest of the British Overseas Territories followed by the Falkland Islands which covers an area of 12,173 km2. The remaining twelve overseas territories cover an area 5,997 km2.

Other countries with very similar land areas to the United Kingdom include Guinea (slightly larger), Uganda, Ghana and Romania (all slightly smaller). The UK is the world's 80th largest country by land area and the 10th largest in Europe (if European Russia is included).

Physical geography

UK's topography Uk topo en.jpg
UK's topography

The physical geography of the UK varies greatly. England consists of mostly lowland terrain, with upland or mountainous terrain only found north-west of the Tees-Exe line. The upland areas include the Lake District, the Pennines, North York Moors, Exmoor and Dartmoor. The lowland areas are typically traversed by ranges of low hills, frequently composed of chalk, and flat plains. Scotland is the most mountainous country in the UK and its physical geography is distinguished by the Highland Boundary Fault which traverses the Scottish mainland from Helensburgh to Stonehaven. The faultline separates the two distinctively different regions of the Highlands to the north and west, and the Lowlands to the south and east. The Highlands are predominantly mountainous, containing the majority of Scotland's mountainous landscape, while the Lowlands contain flatter land, especially across the Central Lowlands, with upland and mountainous terrain located at the Southern Uplands. Wales is mostly mountainous, though south Wales is less mountainous than north and mid Wales. Northern Ireland consists of mostly hilly landscape and its geography includes the Mourne Mountains as well as Lough Neagh, at 388 square kilometres (150 sq mi), the largest body of water in the UK. [12]

The overall geomorphology of the UK was shaped by a combination of forces including tectonics and climate change, in particular glaciation in northern and western areas.

The tallest mountain in the UK (and British Isles) is Ben Nevis, in the Grampian Mountains, Scotland. The longest river is the River Severn which flows from Wales into England. The largest lake by surface area is Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland, though Scotland's Loch Ness has the largest volume.

Geology

The geology of the UK is complex and diverse, a result of it being subject to a variety of plate tectonic processes over a very extended period of time. Changing latitude and sea levels have been important factors in the nature of sedimentary sequences, whilst successive continental collisions have affected its geological structure with major faulting and folding being a legacy of each orogeny (mountain-building period), often associated with volcanic activity and the metamorphism of existing rock sequences. As a result of this eventful geological history, the UK shows a rich variety of landscapes. [13]

Precambrian

The oldest rocks in the British Isles are the Lewisian gneisses, metamorphic rocks found in the far north west of Scotland and in the Hebrides (with a few small outcrops elsewhere), which date from at least 2,700 Ma (Ma = million years ago). South and east of the gneisses are a complex mixture of rocks forming the North West Highlands and Grampian Highlands in Scotland. These are essentially the remains of folded sedimentary rocks that were deposited between 1,000 Ma and 670 Ma over the gneiss on what was then the floor of the Iapetus Ocean.

Palaeozoic

At 520 Ma, what is now Great Britain was split between two continents; the north of Scotland was located on the continent of Laurentia at about 20° south of the equator, while the rest of the country was on the continent of Gondwana near the Antarctic Circle. In Gondwana, England and Wales were largely submerged under a shallow sea studded with volcanic islands. The remains of these islands underlie much of central England with small outcrops visible in many places.

About 500 Ma southern Britain, the east coast of North America and south-east Newfoundland broke away from Gondwana to form the continent of Avalonia, which by 440 Ma had drifted to about 30° south. During this period north Wales was subject to volcanic activity. The remains of these volcanoes are still visible, one example of which is Rhobell Fawr dating from 510 Ma. Large quantities of volcanic lava and ash known as the Borrowdale Volcanics covered the Lake District and this can still be seen in the form of mountains such as Helvellyn and Scafell Pike.

Between 425 and 400 Ma Avalonia had joined with the continent of Baltica, and the combined landmass collided with Laurentia at about 20° south, joining the southern and northern halves of Great Britain together. The resulting Caledonian Orogeny produced an Alpine-style mountain range in much of north and west Britain.

The collision between continents continued during the Devonian period, producing uplift and subsequent erosion, resulting in the deposition of numerous sedimentary rock layers in lowlands and seas. The Old Red Sandstone and the contemporary volcanics and marine sediments found in Devon originated from these processes.

Around 360 Ma Great Britain was lying at the equator, covered by the warm shallow waters of the Rheic Ocean, during which time the Carboniferous Limestone was deposited, as found in the Mendip Hills and the Peak District of Derbyshire. Later, river deltas formed and the sediments deposited were colonised by swamps and rain forest. It was in this environment that the Coal Measures were formed, the source of the majority of Britain's extensive coal reserves.

Around 280 Ma the Variscan orogeny mountain-building period occurred, again due to collision of continental plates, causing major deformation in south west England. The general region of Variscan folding was south of an east–west line roughly from south Pembrokeshire to Kent. Towards the end of this period granite was formed beneath the overlying rocks of Devon and Cornwall, now exposed at Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.

By the end of the Carboniferous period the various continents of the Earth had fused to form the super-continent of Pangaea. Britain was located in the interior of Pangea where it was subject to a hot arid desert climate with frequent flash floods leaving deposits that formed beds of red sedimentary rock.

Mesozoic

As Pangaea drifted during the Triassic, Great Britain moved away from the equator until it was between 20° and 30° north. The remnants of the Variscan uplands in France to the south were eroded down, resulting in layers of the New Red Sandstone being deposited across central England.

Pangaea began to break up at the start of the Jurassic period. Sea levels rose and Britain drifted on the Eurasian Plate to between 31° and 40° north. Much Britain was under water again, and sedimentary rocks were deposited and can now be found underlying much of England from the Cleveland Hills of Yorkshire to the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. These include sandstones, greensands, oolitic limestone of the Cotswold Hills, corallian limestone of the Vale of White Horse and the Isle of Portland. The burial of algae and bacteria below the mud of the sea floor during this time resulted in the formation of North Sea oil and natural gas

1815 Geological by William Smith. Geological map - William Smith, 1815 - BL.jpg
1815 Geological by William Smith.

The modern continents having formed, the Cretaceous saw the formation of the Atlantic Ocean, gradually separating northern Scotland from North America. The land underwent a series of uplifts to form a fertile plain. After 20 million years or so, the seas started to flood the land again until much of Britain was again below the sea, though sea levels frequently changed. Chalk and flints were deposited over much of Great Britain, now notably exposed at the White Cliffs of Dover and the Seven Sisters, and also forming Salisbury Plain.

Cenozoic

Between 63 and 52 Ma, the last volcanic rocks in Great Britain were formed. The major eruptions at this time produced the Antrim Plateau, the basaltic columns of the Giant's Causeway and Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel.

The Alpine Orogeny that took place in Europe about 50 Ma, was responsible for the folding of strata in southern England, producing the London Basin syncline, the Weald-Artois Anticline to the south, the North Downs, South Downs and Chiltern Hills.

During the period the North Sea formed, Britain was uplifted. Some of this uplift was along old lines of weakness left from the Caledonian and Variscan Orogenies long before. The uplifted areas were then eroded, and further sediments, such as the London Clay, were deposited over southern England.

The major changes during the last 2 million years were brought about by several recent ice ages. The most severe was the Anglian Glaciation, with ice up to 1,000 m (3,300 ft) thick that reached as far south as London and Bristol. This took place between about 478,000 to 424,000 years ago, and was responsible for the diversion of the River Thames onto its present course. During the most recent Devensian glaciation, which ended a mere 10,000 years ago, the icesheet reached south to Wolverhampton and Cardiff. Among the features left behind by the ice are the fjords of the west coast of Scotland, the U-shaped valleys of the Lake District and erratics (blocks of rock) that have been transported from the Oslo region of Norway and deposited on the coast of Yorkshire.

Amongst the most significant geological features created during the last twelve thousand years are the peat deposits of Scotland, and of coastal and upland areas of England and Wales.

At the present time Scotland is continuing to rise as a result of the weight of Devensian ice being lifted. Southern and eastern England is sinking, generally estimated at 1 mm (1/25 inch) per year, with the London area sinking at double the speed partly due to the continuing compaction of the recent clay deposits.

Mountains and hills

At 1,345 metres, Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the UK. BenNevis2005.jpg
At 1,345 metres, Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the UK.

The ten tallest mountains in the UK are all found in Scotland. The highest peaks in each part of the UK are:

The ranges of mountains and hills in the UK include:

The lowest point of the UK is in the Fens of East Anglia, in England, parts of which lie up to 4 metres below sea level.

Rivers and lakes

Main articles

The longest river in the UK is the River Severn (220 mi; 350 km) which flows through both Wales and England.

The longest rivers in the UK contained wholly within each of its constituent nations are:

The largest lakes (by surface area) in the UK by country are:

The deepest lake in the UK is Loch Morar with a maximum depth of 309 metres (Loch Ness is second at 228 metres deep). The deepest lake in England is Wastwater which achieves a depth of 79 metres (259 feet).

Loch Ness is the UK's largest lake in terms of volume.

Artificial waterways

Main articles: Waterways in the United Kingdom, Canals of Great Britain, Dams and reservoirs in United Kingdom

As a result of its industrial history, the United Kingdom has an extensive system of canals, mostly built in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, before the rise of competition from the railways. The United Kingdom also has numerous dams and reservoirs to store water for drinking and industry. The generation of hydroelectric power is rather limited, supplying less than 2% of British electricity, mainly from the Scottish Highlands.

Coastline

United Kingdom maritime claims United Kingdom maritime claims.png
United Kingdom maritime claims

The UK has a coastline which measures about 12,429 km. [14] The heavy indentation of the coastline helps to ensure that no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters.

The UK claims jurisdiction over the continental shelf, as defined in continental shelf orders or in accordance with agreed upon boundaries, an exclusive fishing zone of 200  nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi), and territorial sea of 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi).

The UK has an Exclusive Economic Zone of 773,676 km2 (298,718 sq mi) in Europe. However, if all crown dependencies and overseas territories are included then the total EEZ is 6,805,586 km2 (2,627,651 sq mi) which is the 6th largest in the world.

Inlets

Headlands

The geology of the United Kingdom is such that there are many headlands along its coast. A list of headlands of the United Kingdom details many of them.

Islands

In total, it is estimated that the UK is made up of over one thousand small islands, the majority located off the north and west coasts of Scotland. About 130 of these are inhabited according to the 2001 Census.

The largest islands by country are Lewis and Harris in Scotland (841 square mi), Wales' Anglesey (276 square mi), the Isle of Wight in England (147.09 square mi), and Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland (roughly 6 square mi);

Climate

The climate of the UK is generally temperate, although significant local variation occurs, particularly as a result of altitude and distance from the coast. In general the south of the country is warmer than the north, and the west wetter than the east. Due to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, the UK is significantly warmer than some other locations at similar latitude, such as Newfoundland.

The prevailing winds are southwesterly, from the North Atlantic Current. More than 50% of the days are overcast. [15] There are few natural hazards, although there can be strong winds and floods, especially in winter.

Average annual rainfall varies from over 3,000 mm (118.1 in) in the Scottish Highlands down to 553 mm (21.8 in) in Cambridge. The county of Essex is one of the driest in the UK, with an average annual rainfall of around 600 mm (23.6 in), although it typically rains on over 100 days per year. In some years rainfall in Essex can be below 450 mm (17.7 in), less than the average annual rainfall in Jerusalem and Beirut.

The highest temperature recorded in the UK was 38.7 °C (101.7 °F) at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden in Cambridge, on 25 July 2019. [16] The lowest was −27.2 °C (−17.0 °F) recorded at Braemar in the Grampian Mountains, Scotland, on 11 February 1895 and 10 January 1982 and Altnaharra, also in Scotland, on 30 December 1995.

Human geography

The United Kingdom is composed of four parts: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Uk-map.svg
The United Kingdom is composed of four parts: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The United Kingdom's cities, other large centres, and selected smaller places UnitedKingdomCitiesandTownsOMC.png
The United Kingdom's cities, other large centres, and selected smaller places

Demographics

Political geography

National government

The UK is governed as a whole by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Of the four countries that make the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved administrations and parliaments/assembly:

England has no devolved system of government[ clarification needed ]that is, the Parliament of the United Kingdom serves as (and historically was) the English Parliament. It is governed by UK government ministers and legislated for by the UK parliament. Within England, London has a devolved assembly but proposals for elected Regional Assemblies in England were rejected in the first referendum covering North East England. See Government of England.

The UK (specifically, Northern Ireland) has an international land boundary with the Republic of Ireland of 499 km. [3] [4] There is also a boundary between the jurisdiction of France and the UK on the Channel Tunnel.

Local government

Each part of the UK is subdivided in further local governmental regions:

Historically the UK was divided into counties or shires: administrative areas through which all civil responsibilities of the government were passed. Each county or shire had a county town as its administrative centre and was divided into individual parishes that were defined along ecclesiastic boundaries.

Between 1889 (1890 in Scotland) and 1974, the political boundaries were based on the traditional counties, but due to changes in population centres, the traditional counties became impractical as local government areas in certain highly urbanised areas. The Local Government Act 1972 created a new system of administrative counties, designed to take account of the widely differing populations across different parts of the country.

In the 1990s further population growth led to more political changes on a local level. Unitary authorities were formed across the entirety of Scotland and Wales, and in larger cities in England. Many unpopular administrative counties were also abolished at this time, leading to a mixture of two-tier and single-purpose authorities. Further reorganisations are planned if and when regional assemblies in England are revisited in the future.

Economic geography

The economic geography of the UK reflects not only its current position in the global economy, but its long history both as a trading nation and an imperial power.

The UK led the industrial revolution and its highly urban character is a legacy of this, with all its major cities being current or former centres of various forms of manufacturing. However, this in turn was built on its exploitation of natural resources, especially coal and iron ore.

Primary industry

The UK's primary industry was once dominated by the coal industry, heavily concentrated in the north, the Midlands and south Wales. This is all but gone and the major primary industry is North Sea oil. Its activity is concentrated on the UK Continental Shelf to the north-east of Scotland.

Manufacturing

The UK's heavy manufacturing drove the industrial revolution. A map of the major UK cities gives a good picture of where this activity occurred, in particular Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. Today there is no heavy manufacturing industry in which UK-based firms can be considered world leaders. However, areas of the UK still have a notable manufacturing base, including the Midlands which remains a strong manufacturing centre, and the North West which accounts for 60% of the United Kingdom's manufacturing output. [17] More recently, high technology firms have concentrated largely along the M4 motorway, partly because of access to Heathrow Airport, but also because of agglomeration economies.

Finance and services

Once, every large city had a stock exchange. Now, the UK financial industry is concentrated overwhelmingly in the City of London and Canary Wharf, with back office and administrative operations often dispersed around the south of England. London is one of the world's great financial centres and is usually referred to as a world city. There is also a significant legal and ebusiness industry in Leeds.

Regional disparity

The effect of changing economic fortune has contributed to the creation of the so-called North-South divide, in which decaying industrial and ex-industrial areas of Northern England, Scotland and Wales contrast with the wealthy, finance and technology-led southern economy. This has led successive governments to develop regional policy to try to rectify the imbalance. However, this is not to say that the north-south divide is uniform; some of the worst pockets of deprivation can be found in London, whilst parts of Cheshire and North Yorkshire are very wealthy. Nor is the North-South divide limited to the economic sphere; cultural and political divisions weigh heavily too.

Natural resources

Historically, much of the United Kingdom was forested. Since prehistoric times, man has deforested much of the United Kingdom.

Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanised, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of the labour force. It contributes around 2% of GDP. Around two thirds of production is devoted to livestock, one third to arable crops.

In 1993, it was estimated that land use was:

The UK has a variety of natural resources including:

The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP, one of the highest shares of any industrial nation. Due to the island location of the UK, the country has great potential for generating electricity from wave power and tidal power, although these have not yet been exploited on a commercial basis.

Environment

Current issues

England is one of the most densely populated countries/regions in the world, and the most densely populated major nation in Europe. [18] The high population density (especially in the southeast of England) coupled with a changing climate, is likely to put extreme pressure on the United Kingdom's water resources in the future. [19]

The United Kingdom is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It has met Kyoto Protocol target of a 12.5% reduction from 1990 levels and intends to meet the legally binding target of a 20% cut in emissions by 2010. By 2015, to recycle or compost at least 33% of household waste. Between 1998-99 and 1999–2000, household recycling increased from 8.8% to 10.3% respectively.

International agreements

The United Kingdom is a party to many international agreements, including: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, 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 and Whaling.

The UK has signed, but not ratified, the international agreement on Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Geography of dependent territories

Map of the UK, overseas territories and crown dependencies at the same geographic scale British Overseas Territories (at the same geographic scale).svg
Map of the UK, overseas territories and crown dependencies at the same geographic scale

Crown dependencies

Overseas territories

See also

Related Research Articles

British Isles Group of islands in northwest Europe

The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe that consist of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides and over six thousand smaller isles. They have a total area of about 315,159 km2 and a combined population of almost 72 million, and include two sovereign states, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The islands of Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey, and Sark, and their neighbouring smaller islands, are sometimes also taken to be part of the British Isles, even though, as islands off the coast of France, they do not form part of the archipelago.

Geography of Ireland Geography of the island of Ireland, northwestern Europe


Ireland is an island in Northwestern Europe in the north Atlantic Ocean. The island lies on the European continental shelf, part of the Eurasian Plate. The island's main geographical features include low central plains surrounded by coastal mountains. The highest peak is Carrauntoohil, which is 1,041 meters (3,415 ft) above sea level. The western coastline is rugged, with many islands, peninsulas, headlands and bays. The island is bisected by the River Shannon, which at 360.5 km (224 mi) with a 102.1 km (63 mi) estuary is the longest river in Ireland and flows south from County Cavan in Ulster to meet the Atlantic just south of Limerick. There are a number of sizeable lakes along Ireland's rivers, of which Lough Neagh is the largest.

Geology of Great Britain

The geology of Great Britain is renowned for its diversity. As a result of its eventful geological history, Great Britain shows a rich variety of landscapes across the constituent countries of England, Wales and Scotland. Rocks of almost all geological ages are represented at outcrop, from the Archaean onwards.

Highlands or uplands are any mountainous region or elevated mountainous plateau. Generally speaking, upland refers to ranges of hills, typically up to 500–600 m. Highland is usually reserved for ranges of low mountains.

Geography of Europe description of Europes physical land mass

Europe is traditionally defined as one of seven continents. Physiographically, it is the northwestern peninsula of the larger landmass known as Eurasia ; Asia occupies the eastern bulk of this continuous landmass and all share a common continental shelf. Europe's eastern frontier is delineated by the Ural Mountains in Russia. The southeast boundary with Asia is not universally defined, but the modern definition is generally the Ural River or, less commonly, the Emba River. The boundary continues to the Caspian Sea, the crest of the Caucasus Mountains, and on to the Black Sea. The Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles conclude the Asian boundary. The Mediterranean Sea to the south separates Europe from Africa. The western boundary is the Atlantic Ocean. Iceland, though on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and nearer to Greenland than mainland Europe, is generally included in Europe for cultural reasons and because it is over twice as close to mainland Europe as mainland North America. There is ongoing debate on where the geographical centre of Europe falls.

Geography of Wales

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and is part of the island of Great Britain and offshore islands. It is bordered by England to its east, the Irish Sea to its north and west, and the Bristol Channel to its south. It has a total area of 2,064,100 hectares and is about 170 mi (274 km) from north to south and at least 60 mi (97 km) wide. It has a number of offshore islands, by far the largest of which is Anglesey. The mainland coastline, including Anglesey, is about 1,680 mi (2,704 km) in length. As of 2014, Wales had a population of about 3,092,000; Cardiff is the capital and largest city and is situated in the urbanised area of South East Wales.

Southern Uplands region in Scotland

The Southern Uplands are the southernmost and least populous of mainland Scotland's three major geographic areas. The term is used both to describe the geographical region and to collectively denote the various ranges of hills and mountains within this region.

Terminology of the British Isles

The terminology of the British Isles refers to the various words and phrases that are used to describe the different geographical and political areas of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, and the smaller islands which surround them. The terminology is often a source of confusion, partly owing to the similarity between some of the actual words used, but also because they are often used loosely. In addition, many of the words carry both geographical and political connotations which are affected by the history of the islands.

United Kingdom Parliament constituencies Wikimedia list article

The United Kingdom Parliament currently has 650 Parliamentary constituencies across the constituent countries, each electing a single Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons by the plurality system of election, ordinarily every five years. Voting last took place in all 650 of those constituencies at the United Kingdom general election on 8 June 2017, and these results have been counted and verified.

Geography of Scotland

The geography of Scotland is varied, from rural lowlands to unspoilt uplands, and from large cities to sparsely inhabited islands. Located in Northern Europe, Scotland comprises the northern one third of the island of Great Britain as well as 790 surrounding islands encompassing the major archipelagos of the Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands and the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

Geology of Scotland

The geology of Scotland is unusually varied for a country of its size, with a large number of differing geological features. There are three main geographical sub-divisions: the Highlands and Islands is a diverse area which lies to the north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault; the Central Lowlands is a rift valley mainly comprising Paleozoic formations; and the Southern Uplands, which lie south of the Southern Uplands Fault, are largely composed of Silurian deposits.

Coastline of the United Kingdom

The coastline of the United Kingdom is formed by a variety of natural features including islands, bays, headlands and peninsulas. It consists of the coastline of the island of Great Britain and the north-east coast of the island of Ireland, as well as many much smaller islands. Much of the coastline is accessible and quite varied in geography and habitats. Large stretches have been designated areas of natural beauty, notably the Jurassic Coast and various stretches referred to as heritage coast.

Outline of the United Kingdom Overview of and topical guide to the United Kingdom

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; a sovereign state in Europe, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK), or Britain. Lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland, it includes the island of Great Britain—a term also applied loosely to refer to the whole country—the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands

Countries of the United Kingdom The four countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which make up the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) comprises four countries: England, Scotland, and Wales and Northern Ireland.

Geography of Australia Geographic features of Australia

The geography of Australia encompasses a wide variety of biogeographic regions being the world's smallest continent but the sixth-largest country in the world. The population of Australia is concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts. The geography of the continent is extremely diverse, ranging from the snow-capped mountains of the Australian Alps and Tasmania to large deserts, tropical and temperate forests.

Outline of England Overview of and topical guide to England

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to England:

Environment of Scotland

Scotland occupies the northern part of the United Kingdom. The landscape is diverse; ranging from rugged mountain terrain to fertile arable flat land with many rivers and lochs.

Index of United Kingdom-related articles

The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

References

  1. Oxford English Dictionary: "British Isles: a geographical term for the islands comprising Great Britain and Ireland with all their offshore islands including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands."
  2. 1 2 "Island Countries Of The World". WorldAtlas.com. Archived from the original on 7 December 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  3. 1 2 Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, 1999
  4. 1 2 MFPP Working Paper No. 2, "The Creation and Consolidation of the Irish Border" by KJ Rankin and published in association with Institute for British-Irish Studies, University College Dublin and Institute for Governance, Queen's University, Belfast (also printed as IBIS working paper no. 48)
  5. "The Countries of the UK". Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 8 January 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  6. "The South West – Key Facts". www.gosw.gov.uk. Government Office for the South West. Archived from the original on 22 March 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
  7. "Facts and Figures about the South East". www.gose.gov.uk. Government Office for the South East. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
  8. "Regional Profile". www.gonw.gov.uk. Government Office for the North West. Archived from the original on 3 May 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
  9. "Regional Profile". www.gowm.gov.uk. Government Office for the West Midlands. Archived from the original on 21 September 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
  10. "Regional Profile". www.gos.gov.uk/gone/. Government Office for the North East. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
  11. "Our Region". www.gol.gov.uk. Government Office for London. Archived from the original on 20 September 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
  12. "Geography of Northern Ireland". University of Ulster. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  13. Toghill, Peter (2000). The Geology of Britain: An Introduction. Shrewsbury: Swan Hill Press. ISBN   1-85310-890-1.
  14. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (2009). "Factsheet Marine Conservation Zones" (PDF). www.defra.gov.uk. DEFRA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 April 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
  15. "25 September 2017".
  16. Met Office (29 July 2019). "New official highest temperature in UK confirmed".
  17. "1,800 new jobs to be created at Manchester Airport". ITV News. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  18. Khan, Urmee (16 September 2008). "England is most crowded country in Europe". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  19. McKie, Robin (22 January 2012). "Urgent action needed to prevent England's rivers drying up". The Observer. The Guardian. Retrieved 25 September 2017.

Notes

  1. Does not include the three Crown dependencies (768 km2 or 297 sq mi) and the 14 overseas territories (1,742,857 km2 or 672,921 sq mi), shown separately.