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Fact file Size: 50,350 square miles (130,410 sq. km.) Location: England is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The U.K. is just north of the continent of Europe. Population: 49,138,831 as of 2001 Where the people live: More than 80% of the population of the United Kingdom lives in England. Capital: London Official language: English Currency: Pound sterling Climate: Generally mild temperatures. It is unusual for any area to go without rain for more than two or three weeks, even in the summer. Major Products: Cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables, cattle, sheep, poultry, fish, machinery fuels
Symbols The national flag of England, known as St. George's Cross, has been England's national flag since the 13th century. Originally the flag was used by the maritime state the Republic of Genoa. The English monarch paid a tribute to the Doge of Genoa from 1190 onwards, so that English ships could fly the flag as a means of protection when entering the Mediterranean. A red cross acted as a symbol for many Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries. It became associated with Saint George, along with countries and cities, which claimed him as their patron saint and used his cross as a banner. Since 1606 the St George's Cross has formed part of the design of the Union Flag, a Pan-British flag designed by King James I
The Royal Arms of England is a coat of arms symbolising England and the English monarchs. Designed in the High Middle Ages, the Royal Arms was subject to significant alteration as the territory, politics and rule of the Kingdom of England shifted throughout the Middle Ages.
The rose is the national flower of England. It is usually a red rose. The Lion is a national animal of England.
Saint Patron The patron saint of England is Saint George, he is represented in the national flag, as well as the Union Flag as part of a combination. There are many other English and associated saints, some of the best known include; Cuthbert, Alban, Wilfrid, Aidan, Edward the Confessor, John Fisher, Thomas More, Petroc, Piran, Margaret Clitherow and Thomas Becket. There are non-Christian religions practised. Jews have a history of a small minority on the island since 1070. They were expelled from England in 1290 following the Edict of Expulsion, only to be allowed back in 1656.
Geographical position England comprises 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 24-statute mile (52 km or 28.1 nmi) sea gap. The Channel Tunnel, near Folkestone, directly links England to mainland Europe. The English/French border is halfway along the tunnel.
Geographical position England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the North Sea to the east, with the English Channel to the south separating it from continental Europe. Most of England comprises the central and southern part of the island of Great Britain in the North Atlantic. The country also includes over 100 smaller islands such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
Landscape Much of England consists of rolling hills, but it is generally more mountainous in the north with a chain of mountains, the Pennines, dividing east and west. Other hilly areas in the north and Midlands are the Lake District, the North York Moors, and the Peak District. The approximate dividing line between terrain types is often indicated by the Tees-Exe line. To the south of that line, there are larger areas of flatter land, including East Anglia and the Fens, although hilly areas include the Cotswolds, the Chilterns, and the North and Sout Downs.
Rivers The longest river in England is the River Severn which has its source in Wales, forms much of the Anglo-Welsh border and flows into the Bristol Channel. The longest river entirely within England is the River Thames which flows through the English and British capital, London. The Vale of York and The Fens host many of England's larger rivers.
Climate England has a temperate climate, with plentiful rainfall all year round, although the seasons are quite variable in temperature. The prevailing wind is from the south-west, bringing mild and wet weather to England regularly from the Atlantic Ocean. It is driest in the east and warmest in the south, which is closest to the European mainland. Snowfall can occur in winter and early spring. England has warmer maximum and minimum temperatures throughout the year than the other countries of the UK. England is also sunnier throughout the year, but unlike Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the sunniest month is July.
History 55 B.C.: Julius Caesar leads a Roman invasion of what is now Britain. The Romans build 8,000 to 10,000 miles of road during the occupation. 1066 A.D.: France's William, Duke of Normandy, defeats Harold II, the English Saxon King, at the Battle of Hastings. William becomes King. 1215: Wealthy citizens force King John to sign the Magna Carta. The document gives English people basic rights. 1348: A disease called the bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, sweeps across England. It kills about one-third of the population. 1509-1603: During the reigns of King Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I, England splits from the Roman Catholic Church. 1837-1901: Queen Victoria becomes England's longest reigning monarch. The prime minister and parliament become more powerful, and the country moves toward a democratic system of government.
1914-1918: Britain and its allies, including the United States, battle Germany in World War I. 1939-1945: Prime Minister Winston Churchill leads the British to victory against Germany, Japan and Italy in World War II. 1979: Margaret Thatcher becomes the United Kingdom's first woman prime minister. May 1997: Tony Blair is elected Prime Minister. July 1997: After ruling Hong Kong for 155 years, Britain turns over control of the former colony back to China. August 1997: Diana, the Princess of Wales, dies from injuries suffered in a car crash in Paris, France. 2001: Tony Blair supports the U.S.-led war in Iraq. 2002: While most European Union-member countries adopt the euro as their new currency, Great Britain chooses to stay with its own currency, the pound sterling.
Political structure As part of the United Kingdom, the basic political system in England is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system. There has not been a Government of England since 1707, when the Acts of Union 1707, putting into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union, joined England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. Before the union England was ruled by its monarch and the Parliament of England. Today England is governed directly by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, although other countries of the United Kingdom have devolved governments. In the House of Commons which is the lower house of the British Parliament based at the Palace of Westminster, there are 532 Members of Parliament (MPs) for constituencies in England, out of the 650 total.
In the United Kingdom general election, 2010 the Conservative Party had won an absolute majority in England's 532 contested seats with 61 seats more than all other parties combined (the Speaker of the House not being counted as a Conservative). However, taking Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales into account this was not enough to secure an overall majority, resulting in a hung parliament. In order to achieve a majority the Conservative party, headed by David Cameron, entered into a coalition agreement with the third largest party, the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg. Subsequently Gordon Brown announced he was stepping down as prime minister and leader of the Labour party, now led by Ed Milliband.
Economy The economy of England is the largest part of the UK's economy, which has the 18th highest GDP PPP per capita in the world. England is a leader in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors and in key technical industries, particularly aerospace, the arms industry, and the manufacturing side of the software industry. London, home to the London Stock Exchange, the United Kingdom's main stock exchange and the largest in Europe, is England's financial centre—100 of Europe's 500 largest corporations are based in London. London is the largest financial centre in Europe, and as of 2009 is also the largest in the world.
Population With over 51 million inhabitants, England is by far the most populous country of the United Kingdom, accounting for 84% of the combined total. England taken as a unit and measured against international states has the fourth largest population in the European Union and would be the 25th largest country by population in the world.With a density of 395 people per square kilometre, it would be the second most densely populated country in the European Union after Malta
Religion Christianity is the most widely practised religion in England, as it has been since the Early Middle Ages, although it was first introduced much earlier, in Gaelic and Roman times. It continued through Early Insular Christianity, and today about 71.6% of English people identify as Christians. The largest form practised in the present day is Anglicanism, dating from the 16th century Reformation period, with the 1536 split from Rome over Henry VIII wanting to divorce Catherine of Aragon, the religion regards itself as both Catholic and Reformed.
English Heritage English Heritage is a governmental body with a broad remit of managing the historic sites, artefacts and environments of England. It is currently sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The charity National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty holds a contrasting role. Seventeen of the twenty-five United Kingdom UNESCO World Heritage Sites fall within England. Some of the best known of these include; Hadrian's Wall, Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, Tower of London, Jurassic Coast, Saltaire, Ironbridge Gorge, Studley Royal Park and various others.
London From history and art to a 900 year-old royal castle, London has so much to offer. Windsor Castle is still a working palace and the place Queen Elizabeth calls home. Besides royalty, London is home to some of the best museums in the world. Every year, more than 5 million people visit the British Museum, the United Kingdom's largest. The Tate Britain, originally built in 1897, houses more than 600 years worth of art.
The River Thames The 215-mile long River Thames snakes through central London and divides it into northern and southern halves. The poet John Burns described the river as "liquid history" because so many important figures in England's history have lived on or around the river. In fact, the river gave birth to London as the nation's capital because it was the main port.
Cambridge Located in southeast England on the River Cam, Cambridge is home to one of one of the oldest universities in the world. The University of Cambridge is also one of the largest in the United Kingdom. The city was built early in the thirteenth century. Much of its old medieval architecture can still be seen, including winding streets and churches with steeples. More than 3 1/2 million people visit Cambridge every year to enjoy the historic city and its surrounding countryside.
Liverpool Located in northwest England, the city of Liverpool is home to one of the greatest seaports in the world. It was also the gateway for American troops and supplies during World War II. The city is most famous, though, for being the birthplace of one of the most famous rock bands of all time-the Beatles! In honor of the "Fab Four," Liverpool offers a Magical Mystery Tour, during which fans can visit Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and the childhood home of Beatle Paul McCartney.
Stratford-upon-Avon From its early history as a market town to the present day, Stratford has remained one of England's most beautiful towns. The birthplace of playwright William Shakespeare, Stratford is situated in the countryside, on the banks of the river Avon. Many of the town's buildings date back to Shakespearean times. Visitors can see his home and walk through his gardens, which contain the trees, flowers and herbs mentioned in Shakespeare's works.
Bath The golden city of Bath has been welcoming visitors for over 2,000 years. The city boasts some of Europe's most amazing architectural landmarks, including the Roman Baths, the most well- preserved Roman religious spa from the ancient world. The city of Bath developed around these ancient springs. Today, the Roman Baths are one of the United Kingdom's top five attractions.
National Gallery The most senior art gallery is the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, which houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The Tate galleries house the national collections of British and international modern art; they also host the famously controversial Turner Prize.
Architecture Many ancient standing stone monuments were erected during the prehistoric period, amongst the best known are Stonehenge, Devil's Arrows, Rudston Monolith and Castlerigg. With the introduction of Ancient Roman architecture there was a development of basilicas, baths, amphitheaters, triumphal arches, villas, Roman temples, Roman roads, Roman forts, stockades and aqueducts. It was the Romans who founded the first cities and towns such as London, Bath, York, Chester and St Albans. Perhaps the best known example is Hadrian's Wall stretching right across northern England. Another well preserved example is the Roman Baths at Bath, Somerset.
Bank of England The Bank of England, founded in 1694 by Scottish banker William Paterson, is the United Kingdom's central bank. Originally instituted to act as private banker to the Government of England, it carried on in this role as part of the United Kingdom—since 1946 it has been a state-owned institution. The Bank has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales, although not in other parts of the United Kingdom. Its Monetary Policy Committee has devolved responsibility for managing the monetary policy of the country and setting interest rates.
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (26 April 1564; died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Sir Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian. His Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for "Mathematical Principles Of Natural Philosophy"; usually called the Principia), published in 1687, is probably the most important scientific book ever written. It lays the groundwork for most of classical mechanics. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer- Churchill, (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War (WWII). He is widely regarded as one of the great wartime leaders. He served as prime minister twice (1940–45 and 1951–55). A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, writer, and an artist. To date, he is the only British prime minister to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the first person to be recognised as an honorary citizen of the United States.
Charles John Huffam Dickens Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era and he remains popular, responsible for some of English literature's most iconic characters. Many of his novels, with their recurrent concern for social reform, first appeared in magazines in serialised form, a popular format at the time. Unlike other authors who completed entire novels before serialisation, Dickens often created the episodes as they were being serialized. The practice lent his stories a particular rhythm, punctuated by cliffhangers to keep the public looking forward to the next instalment. The continuing popularity of his novels and short stories is such that they have never gone out of print.
Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor and film director of the silent film era. He became one of the best-known film stars in the world before the end of the First World War. Chaplin used mime, slapstick and other visual comedy routines, and continued well into the era of the talkies, though his films decreased in frequency from the end of the 1920s. His most famous role was that of The Tramp, which he first played in 1914. From the April 1914 onwards he was writing and directing most of his films, by 1916 he was also producing, and from 1918 composing the music. With Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith, he co- founded United Artists in 1919.
Margaret Hilda Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher; (born 13 October 1925) served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. Thatcher is the only woman to have held either post. She read chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford and later trained as a barrister. She won a seat in the 1959 general election, becoming the MP for Finchley as a Conservative. When Edward Heath formed a government in 1970, he appointed Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science. In 1975 Thatcher entered the contest herself and became leader of the Conservative Party. At the 1979 general election she became Britain's first female Prime Minister.
Diana, Princess of Wales Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances; 1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997) was a member of the British royal family and international personality of the late 20th century as the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 29 July 1981. The marriage produced two sons: Princes William and Harry,currently second and third in line to the thrones of the 16 Commonwealth realms. Diana was born into an old, aristocratic English family with royal connections, and remained the focus of worldwide media scrutiny before, during and after her marriage, which ended in divorce on 28 August 1996. She died in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997.
Joanne Rowling Joanne "Jo" Rowling, (born 31 July 1965), better known as J. K. Rowling is a British author best known as the creator of the Harry Potter fantasy series, the idea for which was conceived whilst on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies and been the basis for a popular series of films, in which Rowling had creative control serving as a producer in two of the seven instalments.
Entertainment Englishmen are proud of their traditions and carefully keep them up. The best examples are their queen, money system, their weights and measures. There are many customs and some of them are very old. There is, for example, the Marble Championship, where the British Champion is crowned; he wins a silver cup known among folk dancers as Morris Dancing. Morris Dancing is an event where people, worn in beautiful clothes with ribbons and bells, dance with handkerchiefs or big sticks in their hands, while traditional music- sounds.
Halloween is a day on which many children dress up in unusual costumes. In fact, this holiday has a Celtic origin. The day was originally called All Halloween's Eve, because it happens on October 31, the eve of all Saint's Day. The name was later shortened to Halloween. The Celts celebrated the coming of New Year on that day.
Sports England has a strong sporting heritage, and during the 19th century codified many sports that are now played around the world. Sports originating in England include association football, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, tennis, badminton, squash, rounders, hockey, boxing, snooker, billiards, darts, table tennis, bowls, netball, thoroughbred horseracing and fox hunting. It has helped the development of sailing and Formula One. Football is the most popular of these sports. The England national football team, whose home venue is Wembley Stadium, won the FIFA World Cup in 1966, the year the country hosted the competition.
Sports in England Although cricket is officially recognized as England's national sport, for many people football (soccer) is the most important sport. Football is incredibly popular in the UK. England is home to some world class football teams, the most famous being Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Football dates back hundreds of years. Nowadays it is England's premier sport. There are a total of 92 professional clubs in the English Football League. Most players are semi- professional, and have full time jobs as well. The highlight of the English football year is the FA Cup Final, held each year in May.
Boat Race The Boat Race takes place on the river Thames, often on Easter Sunday. A boat with a team from Oxford University and one with a team from Cambridge University hold a race. British people think that the Grand National horse race is the most exciting horse race in the world. It takes place near Liverpool every year. Sometimes it happens the same day as the Boat Race takes place, sometimes a week later. Amateur riders as well as professional jockeys can participate. It is a very famous event.