United Kingdom

Separated from continental Europe by the English Channel, the UK consists of Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland), several smaller islands, and Northern Ireland.


Geography:

Rugged uplands dominate the landscape of Scotland, Wales, and northern England. 

All of the peaks in the United Kingdom over 4000 ft (1219 m) are in highland Scotland. 

The Pennine mountains, known as the “backbone of England,” run the length of northern England. 

Lowland England rises into several ranges of rolling hills, and there is an interconnected system of rivers and canals. 

Over 600 islands, many uninhabited, lie west and north of the Scottish mainland.

Climate:

Generally mild, temperate, and highly changeable. 

Rain is fairly well distributed throughout the year. 

The west is generally wetter than the east, and the south warmer than the north. 

Winter snow is common in upland areas.

People & Society:

The Scottish and Welsh nations remain recognizably distinct, and the creation of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly has given each country greater political autonomy. 

The future of devolved government in Northern Ireland remains problematic. 

People from other ethnic minorities account for 5% of the population; more than half of them were born in the UK. Asians and West Indians in most cities face deprivation and social stress; Asian women can be particularly isolated. 

In key areas such as policing, multi-ethnic recruitment has made little progress. 

Marriage is in decline. 

Over 40% of all births occur outside marriage, but most of them to cohabiting couples. 

Single-parent households account for just over a quarter of all families. 

Income inequality is greater now than in 1884, when records began.

Economy:

World leader in financial services, pharmaceuticals, and defense industries. 

Strong multinationals. 

Precision engineering and high-tech industries, including biotechnology and telecommunications. 

Energy sector based on declining North Sea oil and natural gas reserves. 

Innovative in computer software development. 

Flexible working practices. 

Long-term decline of manufacturing sector, particularly heavy industries and car manufacture, matched by rise in financial and other services.

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