The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with an area of some 244.000 square miles is situated on the British Isles which are separated from the European continent by the North Sea, the Strait of Dover and the English Channel.
Britain's population is over 57 million. For out of every five people live in towns.
The UK is a constitutional monarchy: the head of the state is a king or a queen. In practice, the Sovereign reins, but doesn't rule: the UK is governed by the Government - a body of Ministers who are the leading members of the political party in power and who are responsible to Parliament.
The territory of Great Britain is small. Yet the country has a wide variety of scenery. England is the heart of Britain. It is the richest, the most fertile and most populated in the country. The north and the west of the England are mountainous, but all the rest territory is a vast plain.
In Northwest England, there are many beautiful lakes with green, wooded or grassy shores and gray mountains all around. It is called Lake District. The national symbol of England is the red rose.
Wales is the smallest land of the UK, but has a considerable variety, from the picturesque mountains of the north to the mining and industrial areas of the south. The capital of Wales is Cardiff, an important industrial centre and port. Most people in Wales live in the coastal plains. The national symbol of Wales is a leek or daffodil.
Scotland is a land of mountains, narrow valleys and plains, famous lakes and no end of large and small islands off the coast. The Highlands of Scotland are among oldest mountains in the world. The highest of them is Ben Nevis.
The lakes in Scotland are called "locks". The beautiful Lock Lomond with its thirty islands is the largest. One-third of the people in Scotland live in or near its capital, Edinburg, and its great industrial center, Glasgow. The national symbol of Scotland a thistle.
Northern Ireland was a part of Ireland as a whole before the early 20th century and developed in the middle ages as the Kingdom of Ulster, later the Province of Ulster. The territory is small. It is a land of lakes, rivers and a varied sea coast. Some places are known for their wild beauty, the Glen of Antrim among of them. The capital city is Belfast.
The capital of Great Britain, London, stands on the Thames which flows into the North Sea. The Thames is the busiest and the most important river in Great Britain, but it is not very long. The Severn Which flows into the Irish Sea is the longest British river.
The climate of Great Britain is mild. The Atlantic Ocean and the warm waters of the Gulf-stream affect the weather of the British Isles. The summer is usually cool and rainy. There is much rain and fog in autumn and in winter. Great Britain is a very damp country.