The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British Isles. It consists of four parts: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. England, Wales and Scotland occupy the territory of Great Britain. Northern Ireland is situated in the northern part of Ireland.
The territory of the United Kingdom is about 244,000 square kilometres, it takes the 75th place among other countries in the world. The population is more than 57 million. About 80% of the population is urban. The capital of the country is London. Great Britain is separated from the continent by the English Channel which is 34 km wide in its narrowest point. The country is also washed by the North Sea, the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The surface of Great Britain varies greatly. The northern and western part of the country is mountainous and is called the Highlands. All the rest (south, east and centre) is a vast plain which is called the Lowlands. The mountains are not very high. The rivers are not long. The most important of them are the Severn, the Thames, the Trent . There are many beautiful lakes in the mountainous parts of the country.
The mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and the warm waters of the Gulf Stream influence the climate of Great Britain. It is mild the whole year round.
Great Britain is a highly developed industrial country. It is known as one of the world's largest producers and exporters of iron and steel products, machinery and electronics, chemicals and textile, aircraft and navigation equipment. One of the chief industries of the country is shipbuilding. 7 per cent of the population is engaged in farming.
Great Britain is a country with old cultural traditions and customs. The most famous educational centres are Oxford and Cambridge universities. They are considered to be the intellectual centres of Europe. The education is not free, it is very expensive.
The United Kingdom is a monarchy and the Queen is the head of the state. But in practice it is ruled by the elected government with a Prime Minister at the head. The British Parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It sits in the House of Parliament in Westminster.
There are three main political parties in Great Britain: the Labour, the Conservative and the Liberal parties. The Labour party with Antony Blair at the head is the ruling party nowadays. There's no written constitution in Great Britain only precedents and traditions.