- Geographical Intro
- History & Climate
- Society & Culture
- Population, Government & Economy
- UK Education System
- Living Condition & Costs
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK or U.K.) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the northwestern coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the northeastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland. Otherwise, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the southwest, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The total area of the United Kingdom is 94,000 square miles (240,000 km2).
The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments.
The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the world’s longest-serving current head of state. The United Kingdom’s capital is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major cities include Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester.
The United Kingdom is an island nation located in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of France. It is actually a union of four countries including England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The islands that are today the United Kingdom were invaded by the Romans in 55 BC. This brought the local islanders into contact with the rest of Europe. After the Roman Empire weakened, the islands were invaded by the Saxons, the Vikings, and finally the Normans.
The English conquered Wales in 1282 under Edward I. In order to make the Welsh happy, the king’s son was made the Prince of Wales. The two countries became unified in 1536. Scotland became part of the British crown in 1602 when the king of Scotland became the King James I of England. The union became official in 1707. Ireland became a part of the union in 1801. However, many of the Irish rebelled and, in 1921, the southern part of Ireland was made a separate country and an Irish free state.
In the 1500s Britain began to expand its empire into much of the world. After defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588, England became the world’s dominant sea power. Britain first grew into the Far East and India and then to the Americas. In the early 1800s, the UK defeated France in the Napoleonic Wars and became the supreme European power.
In the 1900s, the United Kingdom became less of dominant world power. It continued to lose control over colonies and was weakened by World War I. However, under the leadership of Winston Churchill, the United Kingdom was the last western European nation to oppose Germany in World War II and played a major role in defeating Hitler.
The United Kingdom played a major role in the history of the world, taking a leading role in developing democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its peak in the 19th century, the British Empire covered over one-fourth of the surface of the earth.
Most of the United Kingdom has a temperate climate, with generally cool temperatures and plentiful rainfall all year round. The temperature varies with the seasons seldom dropping below −20 °C (−4 °F) or rising above 35 °C (95 °F). Some parts, away from the coast, of upland England, Wales, Northern Ireland and most of Scotland, experience a subpolar oceanic climate. Higher elevations in Scotland experience a continental subarctic climate and the mountains experience a tundra climate. The prevailing wind is from the southwest and bears frequent spells of mild and wet weather from the Atlantic Ocean. Although the eastern parts are mostly sheltered from this wind since the majority of the rain falls over the western regions the eastern parts are therefore the driest. Summers are warmest in the southeast of England and coolest in the north. Heavy snowfall can occur in winter and early spring on high ground, and occasionally settles to great depth away from the hills.
The U.K. has a temperate climate, and one that is remarkably varied due to all the water surrounding the area – conditions can change greatly from one day to the next. Scotland in the north tends to be cooler than England, while Wales is generally wetter with more cloud cover. Temperatures generally range from around 0º Celcius in winter to 32º Celcius in summer. In all parts of the U.K., waterproof jackets should be part of the wardrobe.
Society and Culture
British culture encompasses the traditions of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, European cultures and the impact of the British Empire. Although British Culture is a distinct entity, the individual cultures of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are diverse and are full of distinctiveness.
Among all other aspects, British literature stands out and is the backbone of British culture. Britain gave birth to Novel. Playwrights, Poets and Authors are considered the most prominent cultural figures that helped shape the British society and its culture. Music, cinema, art, architecture and television are the other aspects to which Britain has notably contributed. Britain is a home of many prominent scientists and inventors. Britain’s contribution to philosophy, science and technology is widely known across the globe. Some of the world’s oldest universities are in Britain.
The socio-economic and cultural conditions of the UK have been immensely affected by the Industrial Revolution that began in the UK. Due to this, language, law, culture and institutions of its former colonies saw significant influence.
The UK is known as a “cultural superpower”, and London as a world cultural capital. British traditions are famous worldwide. When one thinks of Britain, you imagine people drinking tea, wearing bowler hats and gorging on fish and chips. Sports, food and music, are tightly knit traditions in Britain.
The five core British Values are:
The rule of law.
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.
Consider these points when you are in the UK:
The British are punctual. Being late is odd and, in some cases, considered to be rude. If you’re going to be late to something, contact those involved as soon as you know you will be late. Also, it is less rude to be late to a dinner party at someone’s home than it is to be late to a public meeting (such as dinner at a restaurant).
Never jump lines, known as “queues” in the UK. In some countries jumping the queue may be acceptable, but in the UK, people may not be very happy with you and will definitely let you know how unhappy they are about the situation. Standing patiently in the queue is a normal part of British culture.
In the UK, it’s acceptable to keep one arm’s length between yourself and those you are speaking with. Don’t get too close to people. Maintain some space.
Please, thank you, and sorry are normal parts of everyday conversations and interactions.
When greeting a good friend or family member in the UK, you do not simply shake their hand. Many times, especially if one of the people that are greeting or being greeted is female, you will frequently give and/or receive a small kiss on the cheek.
The British have a high amount of respect for older adults and the disabled.
The current population of the United Kingdom is 67,871,466 as of Tuesday, June 16, 2020, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.
The United Kingdom 2020 population is estimated at 67,886,011 people at mid-year according to UN data.
The United Kingdom population is equivalent to 0.87% of the total world population.
The U.K. ranks number 21 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
The population density in the United Kingdom is 281 per Km2 (727 people per mi2).
The total land area is 241,930 Km2 (93,410 sq. miles)
83.2 % of the population is urban (56,495,180 people in 2020)
The median age in the United Kingdom is 40.5 years.
According to the 2011 UK Census, the total population of the United Kingdom was around 63,182,000. It is the 21st-most populated country in the world. Its overall population density is 259 people per square kilometre (671 people per sq mi), with England having a significantly higher population density than Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Almost one-third of the population lives in England’s southeast, which is predominantly urban and suburban, with about 9,000,000 in the capital city of London, the population density of which is just over 5,200 per square kilometre (13,468 per sq mi).
Celtic languages are spoken in Scotland, Cornwall, and Northern Ireland, but the predominant language overall is English. In North and West Wales, Welsh is widely spoken as a first language, but less so in the South East of the country, where English is typically the first choice.
The Government of the United Kingdom formally referred to as Her Majesty’s Government is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The government is led by the prime minister, who selects all the other ministers. The prime minister and their most senior ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as the Cabinet. The government ministers all sit in Parliament and are accountable to it. The government is dependent on Parliament to make primary legislation, and since the Fixed-terms Parliaments Act 2011, general elections are held every five years to elect a new House of Commons, unless there is a successful vote of no confidence in the government or a two-thirds vote for a snap election (as was the case in 2017) in the House of Commons, in which case an election may be held sooner. After an election, the monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II) selects as prime minister the leader of the party most likely to command the confidence of the House of Commons, usually by possessing a majority of MPs.
The current prime minister is Boris Johnson, who took office on 24 July 2019. He is the leader of the Conservative Party, which won the most seats in the House of Commons but did not secure a majority government in the general election on 8 June 2017, when Theresa May was the party leader. Following the general election on 12 December 2019, the Conservatives were able to secure a working majority of 80, taking 365 of the 650 seats.
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy in which the reigning monarch (that is, the king or queen who is the head of state at any given time) does not make any open political decisions. All political decisions are taken by the government and Parliament. This constitutional state of affairs is the result of a long history of constraining and reducing the political power of the monarch, beginning with Magna Carta in 1215.
The economy of the United Kingdom is a highly developed social market and market-orientated economy. It is the sixth-largest national economy in the world measured by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), ninth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP), and twenty second-largest by GDP per capita, comprising 3.3% of world GDP.
In 2016, the UK was the tenth-largest goods exporter in the world and the fifth-largest goods, importer. It also had the second-largest inward foreign direct investment and the third-largest outward foreign direct investment. The UK is one of the most globalized economies, and it is composed of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. With more than 52% of its imports and its exports, the European Union, including its 27 member states, remains in 2020 one notable trade partner from the UK.
The currency of the UK is the pound sterling, which is the world’s fourth-largest reserve currency after the United States dollar, the Euro and the Japanese yen, and is also one of the 10 most valued currencies in the world.
The UK is a member of the Commonwealth, the G7, the G20, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, NATO, the United Nations Security Council, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the United Nations.
Agriculture, construction and production industries, financial and business services, hotels and restaurants, and tourism are the crux of the UK’s economy.
The strength of the UK economy varies from country to country and from region to region. Excluding the effects of North Sea oil and gas (which is classified in official statistics as extra-regio), England has the highest gross value added (GVA) and Wales the lowest of the UK’s constituent countries.
GDP per capita, 2015
UK Education System
Education in England is overseen by the United Kingdom’s Department for Education. Local government authorities are responsible for implementing policy for public education and state-funded schools at a local level.
The education system in the UK is divided into four main parts, primary education, secondary education, further education and higher education. Children in the UK have to legally attend primary and secondary education which runs from about 5 years old until the student is 16 years old.
The state-funded education system is divided into stages based upon age: Early Years Foundation Stage (ages 3–5); primary education (ages 5 to 11), subdivided into Key Stage 1 (KS1) Infants (ages 5 to 7) and Key Stage 2 (KS2) Juniors (ages 7 to 11); secondary education (ages 11 to 16), subdivided into Key Stage 3 (KS3; ages 11 to 14) and Key Stage 4 (KS4; ages 14 to 16); Key Stage 5 is post-16 education (ages 16 to 18); and tertiary education (for ages 18+).
At age 16 the students typically take exams for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) (which is equivalent to high school graduation in Canada, the United States many other countries) or other Level 1/2 qualifications. While education is compulsory until 18, schooling is compulsory to 16, thus post-16 education can take a number of forms, and maybe academic or vocational.
Higher education often begins with a three-year bachelor’s degree. Postgraduate degrees include master’s degrees, either taught or by research, and doctoral-level research degrees that usually take at least three years.
In the United Kingdom, higher education is offered by universities and non-university institutions (colleges, institutes, schools and academies) and provide both research-oriented and higher professional education. Universities provide degree programmes that culminate to a degree (bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree) and non-degree programmes that lead to a vocational qualification such as a certificate or diploma.
British higher education is highly valued around the globe for its quality and rigorous academic standards. The prestige of British higher education emanates from the alumni of its world-renowned institutions. Prominent people that have reached the apex in their respective fields have been products of British higher education. Britain is home to some of the world’s most prominent institutions of higher learning and ranked among the top universities in the world. Institutions such as the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, Imperial College, London, and UCL consistently rank among the world’s top ten universities.
U.K. poverty is low. According to the Office for National Statistics, 7.3 percent of the U.K.’s population experience persistent poverty. Conditions are slightly worse for women, since 8.2 percent of the female population experiences persistent poverty, compared to only 6.3 percent of the male population. Great Britain and Northern Ireland overall have a poverty rate of 16.7 percent, and this is slightly lower than 17.3 percent, the average for the European Union.
The U.K. quality of life is quite high. A recent study on the quality of life ranked the United Kingdom in fifth place out of all European nations. This list looked at broadband speed, pollution, cost of living, and many other factors.
These are some of the benefits of living in the UK:
1. Less violence
2. Much easier, more productive, less expensive healthcare
3. More predictable and far less stressful climate.
4. Less racism
5. More economic security
6. Less pollution
7. More employment opportunities
8. Safe drinking water
9. Cheaper or free medical services
10. A safe place to live in
11. Free education for children
12. Individual freedom and security
13. Multicultural environment
14. Rich in language and culture
15. Use of sophisticated technology in day to day life
For international students, apart from tuition fees, the main cost is living expenses. Living in the UK is generally good value for money. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and the standard of living is very high.
However, coming to the UK you will have to learn to manage your money successfully to stay away from financial troubles. London and the southeast of England are going to be the most expensive areas to live in with some of the larger northern cities, like Edinburgh, Manchester, and Leeds, coming close behind in terms of the cost of living.
You will have to allow around 10,000 to 12,000 pounds a year for your living expenses. Here are some of the average prices that you should budget for:
– Student accommodation: 100 pounds per week
– Food/household shopping: 30 to 33 pounds per week
– Clothing: 12 pounds per week
– Household goods(including laundry): 8 to 12 pounds per week
– Course costs: books, stationery, photocopying of course materials etc. -32 pounds per week
– Travel: this will vary a lot depending on where you are living and how much you travel around the UK- average outside London is 15 pounds per week; inside London is 18 pounds per week.
– Social activities: average is 38 pounds per week.
#Accommodation and bills: Accommodation is your largest expense after your tuition fees. You will have to pay a deposit of one month’s rent in many places. You get this back when you leave minus the cost of repairing or replacing any breakages from during your stay. Costs per month range from:
-Self-catering halls of residence- 180 to 360 pounds
-Catered halls of residence- 320 to 400 pounds
#Groceries: Food and household shopping, apart from in catered halls, is about 100 to 120 pounds a month. Try to make savings by buying in bulk with any other students you live with.
#Entertainment: Many students prefer to stay on campus because off-campus prices for drinks, food, and entertainment, such as DJs, bands and quiz nights are higher. But if you stay on campus then you will not find out very much more about what the rest of the country is like.
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