When one thinks of Great Britain, one thinks of the Crown Jewels,
Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family, Beefeaters,
etc. Great Britain is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and
Northern Ireland and each have their own unique features.
Officially called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland, Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy located in
northwestern Europe. The largest island in a cluster of islands
which comprise the British Isles, its capital is London and it has a
population of over sixty million based on the estimate of 2008.
England is the largest and most populated
area of the island and is located in the southern and eastern side.
Wales makes up the west and Scotland the north. Northern Island on the
north eastern corner of Ireland is the second largest area of the island.
It is a common mistake to call this country “Great Britain” as it is an
incomplete term because it doesn’t include Northern Island, only the
island of Great Britain. “United Kingdom” and “UK” are deemed more
proper ways of referring to this country. The people of the country are
called “British” though it is acceptable to call those from England
“English”, from Scotland “Scottish”, and those from Wales “Welsh”.
The physical size of the United Kingdom is small, about twice as big as
the state of New York. Its climate is chilly, mild, and wet. Almost the
whole year round rain or cloudy skies occur. This is why the UK is
generally lush and green with hills and plains on the southeast side and
mountainous and hilly in the northwest side.
The UK has a dense population despite its size. It is economically
developed and prosperous, culturally sophisticated, foremost in science
and technology, and peacefully coexists with its neighbouring countries.
The standard of living in the country is high and it is one of the most
affluent in Europe.
The UK’s capital of
London is a beehive of cultural activities as it is home to many
theatres, orchestras, and galleries. It is also the heart of fashion,
motion pictures, and publishing in the country making it the hub of UK
culture. Yet Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the rest of England
have their own unique and important contributions to UK’s cultural scene.
The different ethnic minorities that have made their home in the country
also make up part of what is uniquely British as celebrated in annual
fests such as the Notting Hill Carnival.
A very popular travel destination, UK’s tourism industry is a vital part
of its economy. Visitors in the UK are assisted by the government
thought the British Tourist Authority which in its turn has a multitude
of Tourist information Centres.
The main attraction in the UK is its heritage, arts, historical
buildings, monuments, museums, and galleries. The majority of tourists
that visit the UK annually are from the U.S.A., France, Germany, Ireland,
London in particular is crowded with tourists all year round. The most
popular areas of the city are the Tower of London, the Houses of
Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey. Pubs and theatres
are popular night time destinations.
Wales, on the northern side, has its share of attractions, most of them
castles of historical value such as Conwy, Caernarfon, and Harlech. Its
Tintern Abbey and St. David’s Cathedral are beautiful to behold.
Many English cities
have remarkably preserved cathedrals such as those in Salisbury, Durham,
and Canterbury. Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle is a must-see. It was the
home of Robert the Bruce and where the famed “Braveheart”, William
Wallace had been betrayed and captured.
The UK has numerous old, stately homes. Blenheim Palace, the home of the
Churchills, is very popular. One of King Henry VIII’s homes, Hampton
Court Palace, lies just outside London. Mary, Queen of Scots’ old home,
the Palace of the Holyrood House, is located in Scotland. The university
towns of Oxford and Cambridge have many ancient buildings, including the
Tudor home where Shakespeare was born on Stratford-upon-Avon.
There are many places to see in the United Kingdom a.k.a. Great Britain.
If history, culture, and tradition are your thing, this is the place for
you. This is one of those places wherein the historical past blends in
harmony with the modern age.