United Kingdom

About United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has been called the biggest small country on Earth due to its sheer diversity. The UK is short for the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" and is formed by the province of Northern Ireland and the countries of Great Britain - England, Scotland and Wales. Each of these countries have a very distinct identity and you should not call a Welshman English or vice versa, and some may not like being called 'British', even though the Welsh (and the Cornish) are the original Britons.

In this site the different islands in the Irish Sea and those North of Scotland are also taken into consideration. The United Kingdom has too many sites to mention. Though detached from the continent of Europe by only a few miles of water, the UK is permeated by a strong sense of its cultural separateness. Everything is different here: measures (pounds and ounces are still more popular than the now official kilos), traffic (small island, lots of traffic jams), customs and food. Life in the UK retains an extravagant continuity with a past that has little in common with its European sisters and brothers unity, some citizens (especially in England, less in Scotland which considers herself more European) still have problems, not only with accepting the European idea, but also with defining the concept of the United Kingdom itself. The dominant national culture of the UK is "England" and Englishness. The non-English are therefore, by extension, often unwittingly and unintentionally cast in the role of lesser mortals. That is the problem with the UK, many people in England think British is another term for English. Therefore the other nations in the UK resent the term British due to it's association with English. To illustrate this point, the English national football team's anthem is God Save the Queen (This is actually the British national anthem). Therefore booing of the British anthem by the Welsh or Scots at national sporting events is not uncommon. The reason that many Scots feel more European compared to their English neighbours may be in part down to Scotland's long history of co-operation with France against the common enemy-England. The alliance provided both countries with military assistance, it also gave citizens of Scotland and France dual nationality until that right was revoked by the French government in 1903. However the alliance also introduced Scots to French influences in legal, culinary, architectural and linguistic fields.

Scotland was an independent nation until the Act of Union in 1707 when the Scottish Parliament was persuaded to dissolve after the English imposed trade sanctions and offered bribes to the Scottish nobility. The Scottish people were furious and the resentment has never fully gone away. The Act of Union maintained many Scottish institutions such as the Church of Scotland, Education system and Scottish Law. There has always been a strong sense of identity and although no longer an independent sovereign state, Scotland is still considered a country in its own right. In the early to mid-nineties there was a reawakening of the Scottish identity to such an extent that the British government had no option but to establish the Scottish Parliament in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. However there may yet be further constitutional change within the next decade as the Scottish National Party is the second largest political party in Scotland and their aim is to dissolve the Union and let Scotland once again be an independent sovereign state as so brilliantly written in the Scottish national anthem 'Flowe o' Scotland'

Scotland's most visited city is the capital, Edinburgh. It is known as the "Athens of the North" due to the beautiful scenery, architecture and historical background. The city has a very cosmopolitan atmosphere due to the huge number of foreign tourists and students that flock there. 'Edinburgh,' said writer Robert Louis Stevenson, 'is what Paris ought to be'. There are so many attractions to visit: Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, The Scottish Parliament, Our Dynamic Earth, Museum of Scotland, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo, Royal Yacht Britannia, St Giles Cathedral, The Scott Monument, Arthur's Seat, Calton Hill, Royal Botanic Gardens, Forth Bridge, Rosslyn Chapel of "Da Vinci Code" fame and many more. Also if you are in the city in August you've just become immersed in one of Europe's greatest festivals; The Edinburgh Festival! But Scotland isn't just Edinburgh, Scotland has so much to offer such as the magical mountians and lochs of the Highlands, the wonderful coastline, the castles of Aberdeenshire such as Fyvie the finest baronial castle in the land. The small fishing villages and towns such as Pennan and Banff have a character all of their own and of course we can't forget the people the Scots, warm hearted and friendly, probably the most welcoming race in the world.

Wales was an independent nation until she was absorbed into England in the Act of Union 1536. However the Welsh people like the Scot's retain a fierce sense of national identity. The Welsh language is becoming more popular and the establishment of the Welsh Assembly means Wales after several centuries is taking steps towards nationhood. Meanwhile, Wales remains a Principality.

But there are also things that resemble Europe: nationwide shops and businesses rule the appearance of most high streets, the tourist infrastructure is very well developed all over the UK and the growth of a nostalgia-obsessed heritage industry has produced a lot of museums, theme parks and commemorative monuments. However, the country is rich in monuments, that attest to its intricate history; from ancient hill forts and Roman villas, through a host of medieval cathedrals to the ambitious civic projects of the Industrial Revolution.

The UK offers a lot of diversion to all its tourists: For pulsing cultural and nightlife, London, Manchester and Leeds are a must. To feel the charm of the English seaside and the importance of harbours for an island like the British Isles, travel along the southeastern coastline and explore the heritage of Maritime England at Portsmouth. In the central part of England you will find towns plenty of historical heritage like Salisbury, Oxford, Cambridge and Norwich. Moving to Eastern England you will find the delightful Norfolk Broads, a huge area of connecting inland waterways popular for sailing, fishing and various watersports.

Western and northern England fascinate with beautiful landscapes: rugged moorlands, picturesque flatlands and rocky coastlines. A visit to the South Western penninsula is a must - Dartmoor and Exmoor in Devon and Somerset, and Bodmin in Cornwall. Also, in Newquay there is world class surfing. For true wilderness, however, you better travel to the mountains of Wales or the Scottish Highlands. The finest of Scotland 's lochs, glens and peaks, and the magnificent scenery of the west coast islands, can be reached easily from the contrasting cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

This is provided under the terms of the CCPL license, and is based on an original from World66 titled "United Kingdom", edited and/or created by bardofthebroch, which is subject to Copyright and a Disclaimer.