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 thousands 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 57 million. About 80 percent of the population is urban. The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast respectively. 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 and the British Channel. 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 the Highlands. The South, which has beautiful valleys and plains, is called the 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 (1343 m). There are a lot of rivers in Great Britain, but they are not very long. The Severn is the longest rive, while the Thames is the deepest and the most important one. The mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and the warm waters of the 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, textile. 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.