The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British Isles. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and about five thousand small islands. Their total area is over 244 000 square kilometres.
The United Kingdom is one of the world's smaller countries. Its population is over 60 million. About 80 percent of the population is urban.
The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Great Britain consists of England, Scotland and Wales and does not include Northern Ireland. But in everyday speech "Great Britain" is used in the meaning of the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". The capital of the UK is London.
The British Isles are separated from the Continent by the North Sea, the English Channel and the Strait of Dover. The western coast of Great Britain is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea.
The surface of the British Isles varies very much. The north of Scotland is mountainous and is called Highlands. The south, which has beautiful valleys and plains, is called Lowlands. The north and west of England are mountainous, but the eastern, central, and south-eastern parts of England are a vast plain. Mountains are not very high. Ben Nevis in Scotland is the highest mountain (1,343 m). There are a lot of rivers in Great Britain, hut they are not very long. The Severn is the longest river, while the Thames is the deepest and the most important one. The mountains, the Atlantic Ocean, and the warm waters of Gulf Stream influence the climate of the British Isles. It is mild the whole year round.
The UK is a highly developed industrial country. It produces and exports machinery, electronics, textiles. One of the chief industries of the country is shipbuilding.
The UK is a constitutional monarchy with a parliament and the Queen as Head of State.