The official title of the UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland .
- Great Britain (the formerly separate realms of England and Scotland, and the principality of Wales. )
- Northern Ireland (also known as Ulster)
- Numerous smaller islands including the Isle of Wight, Anglesey, and the Scilly, Orkney, Shetland, and Hebridean archipelagos.
The UK is an island nation in Western Europe just off the coast of France. The mainland areas lie between latitudes 49°N and 59°N and longitudes 8°W to 2°E.
The UK lies between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, and comes within 35 km (22 miles) of the northwest coast of France, from which it is separated by the English Channel. Northern Ireland shares a 360 km international land boundary with the Republic of Ireland. The Channel Tunnel bored beneath the English Channel, now links the UK with France.
The UK has a total area of approximately 245,000 km², almost a quarter-of-a-million square kilometres.
|No one in the UK lives more than 120 km (75 miles) from the sea.
The UK is made up of several islands. The only land border connecting the UK to another country is between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
is bordered by four seas:
- to the south by the English Channel, which separates it from continental Europe
- to the east by the North Sea
- to the west by the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean
The UK Landscape is very varied, ranging from the Grampian Mountains of Scotland to the lowland fens of England which are at or below sea level in places.
Scotland and Wales are the most mountainous parts of the UK. A ridge of hills, the Pennine, runs down the centre of northern England. Many coastal areas are low-lying, especially in the east and south of England. These include the wetlands of the Somerset levels, that regularly flood during heavy rain.
Most of the UK is made up of gently rolling hills with isolated areas of high ground such as Dartmoor in the south-west of England or the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland is also home to the UK's largest lake, Lough Neagh, which covers an area of 396sq.km (153 sq miles). Other major lakes include Windermere in the English Lake District and Loch Lomond in Scotland. Another of Scotland's lakes, Loch Ness is famous for sightings of 'Nessie', a mythical monster!
Find out more about the landscape of England
Being a relatively small Island, the UK's rivers are not very long. The Severn, its longest river, is just 338 km in length, beginning in Wales and entering the Atlantic Ocean near Bristol in England. Other major rivers include the Thames, which flows through Oxford and London, and the Trent and Mersey rivers, which drain rainfall from large areas of central England.
Find out more about UK Rivers
The UK's climate varies greatly according to season and location, but on the whole can be described as mild with few extremes.
Find out more about the climate
Quick Facts on the UK
(Top map courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission)