The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists of
England (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man), Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland. The British landscape can be divided roughly into two kinds of
terrain – highland and lowland. The highland area comprises the mountainous
regions of Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern England and north Wales.
Sandstone and limestone hills, long valleys and basins, such as the Wash, break
up the lowland area on the east coast. Despite its small size, England is a
country of much diversity.
As the UK is an island group, it is subject to very changeable weather.
Extremes of temperature are rare, but snow, hail, heavy rain and heatwaves can
London, the capital, draws increasing numbers of visitors, not only to the
well documented attractions of the West End with its theatres, cinemas, shopping
streets, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs, but to its historic treasures such
as: Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
In addition, London has the vast green spaces of Hampstead Heath, Hyde and
Richmond parks; vibrant street markets in Camden, Brick Lane or Portobello Road
and many distinctive old pubs.
A short drive away from London are the elegant southern coastal resorts of
Eastbourne and Brighton; the beautiful villages of the New Forest; historic
religious centres such as: Winchester, Canterbury or Salisbury. Cornwall and
Devon continue to draw visitors with their rolling hills, beautiful stretches of
coastline and picturesque fishing villages. Similarly, the honey-stoned cottages
of Moreton-in-Marsh or Bourton-on-the-Water are picture postcard material.
Cumbria, more popularly known as ‘The Lake District’, has the stunning lakes
of Windermere and Derwent Water, the cathedral city of Carlisle is close to
Hadrian’s Wall built by the Romans.
Scotland is a beautiful and sparsely populated country with rolling
lowland, dramatic mountains, lochs and many offshore islands. Edinburgh is the
capital and its Castle is not only Scotland’s number one tourist attraction
with the Edinburgh Festival in August, but also home to the Scottish Crown
Jewels. Its vast profile sits at the head of the Royal Mile stretches down to
the Palace of Holyrood House, the Queen’s official Residence in Scotland.
Edinburgh’s cultural life, with its Festival as the highpoint of the year,
features much theatre, music and dance unrivalled outside London. The Scottish
highlands – the towns of Oban and Fort William and the islands of Skye and
Mull – are a stunning wilderness of mountains and moorlands, lochs and rivers.
Wales is a country of great geographical variation with many long
stretches of attractive and often rugged coastline. Cardiff is the
Principality’s capital and principal seaport. The Castle, much of which dates
back to the Middle Ages, was extensively added to during the 19th century, thus
creating a strongly Victorian Gothic result. Much of Wales has a strong
non-conformist ‘chapel’ tradition and maintains its own language. Llandudno,
Rhyl, Pembrokeshire and Porthmadog are among the better known resort areas.
Northern Ireland contains some beautiful scenery, from the rugged
coastline in the north and northeast to the gentle fruit-growing regions of
Armagh. To the southeast of the province, Belfast provides shopping and city
entertainment in the shape of theatres, cinema, a wide range of restaurants, the
Grand Opera House and all the other attractions of any capital city.
The rest of the British Isles comprises the Channel Islands of Guernsey,
Jersey, Alderney (lying off the coast of Normandy) and the Isle of
Man located in the Irish Sea between the main islands of Great Britain and
Ireland. the Isle of Man is home to the 'Manx TT Races' (motorcycles) in June.