Geography

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is made up of Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It lies off the northwest coast of France, and has many hills and mountains, lakes (and lochs), rivers and islands, and a rugged coastline. London is the capital of the UK and England, while Edinburgh, Belfast, and Cardiff are capitals of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales respectively. Other major cities include Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Bristol, and Newcastle upon Tyne.



History

The history of Britain before 1603 is that of its four constituent parts. England and Scotland were frequently at war, and England completed its conquest of Wales in 1284. The Tudor kings also conquered Ireland.

In 1603 with the death of Queen Elizabeth I, James VI of Scotland inherited the throne of England as James I. The Act of Union of 1707 combined the Scottish and English parliaments, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and the Act of Ireland (1801) united Britain and Ireland.

Britain was part of an alliance which defeated the French emperor Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. 1832 saw reform to parliament and voting rights with the Great Reform Act. The British Empire saw expansion under Disraeli - at one time or another most English-speaking countries have been coloured pink on the world map, denoting their part in the empire.

The 20th century saw independence for Ireland in 1921, and Britain was a major player in both world wars, and the Cold War.



Government and politics

British government is centered around Westminster in London. The governing party is elected by the first past the post system, and each MP represents an individual constituency. The Queen's role is as part of a constitutional monarchy, and her main function in government is to give the Royal Assent to acts of parliament. The main debating and legislative chamber is the House of Commons, while the House of Lords acts as a revising chamber and ultimate court of appeal.

Following referenda in 1997 and elections in 1999, a Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly opened in May 1999. Strong movements for independence still exist in Scotland and Wales following devolution.

The United Kingdom is a member of both the European Union and NATO. The UK first exploded an atomic bomb in 1952. It also has several nuclear power stations; the UK Atomic Energy Authority was established in 1954.



Sport

Some of Brtian's favourite sports include football (soccer), rugby, athletics, tennis, cricket, and equestrian events such as horse-racing. Motorsports are also popular in the UK.

Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland field separate teams for football and rugby, but compete together in the Great Britain team in athletics and the Olymic Games.

Practically every large town in Britain has its own football club - some of the largest are Manchester United, and Glasgow's Rangers and Celtic.



Culture

All four home nations have their own national identities, with separate flags, patron saints, and sporting teams. National media such as the BBC and national newspapers help reinforce a collective sense of "Britishness".

Britain's long history has resulted in many old traditional occasions, on national and local stages. Royal occasions such as Trooping the Colour or the wedding and death of Princess Diana are shown on TV and watched by many.



Art and literature

The UK also has a long history of writers and artists. Some of Britain's best-known classical authors might include Daniel Defoe, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens. Poets would include Keats, Longfellow, and Byron, and British artists would include such as Constable, Turner, Henry Moore and Damien Hurst. The UK has also produced playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Alan Ayckbourn. Benjamin Britten and Edward Elgar are among Britain's classical composers, and The Beatles and Sex Pistols are examples of modern British music.



Sources:
The Hutchinson Encyclopedia, 1997 ed.
20th Century Day by Day, Dorling Kindersley

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This omits any territories outside of the British Isles. (Also, as a note, Ireland is not a part of the UK; it's only on the map nominally, without any linked cities, for not-making-it-look-funny purposes.)


Made with ASCII Generator Public Beta 13, the E2 Offline Scratchpad, and far too much spare time.


Not being a UK resident, I'm not completely familiar with its every geographic facet, so if there are any errors here, or if you disagree with my scheme for which cities get the . and which get the O, or if you want me to add your favorite town/mountain/island/county line, message me. I thought about submitting this as Everyone, but I. . .uh. . .didn't want to give up the credit.

Herewith a quick summary of the various historical events which gave us today's United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland:

  1. England, under Edward I, conquered Wales in the thirteenth century.
  2. Union of the crowns of Scotland and England, formalised in the Act of Union of 1707.
  3. The Irish parliament votes itself out of existence in another Act of Union in 1801.
  4. Protracted period of rampant imperialism. The United Kingdom retains the same status, but imperial possessions are added to form the British Empire.
  5. Irish struggle for independence gets underway in earnest in 1919. The island is partitioned, with the bulk of the country winning independence through a treaty in 1922.
  6. The smaller part, Northern Ireland, opts to remain part of the United Kingdom.
And that's the exciting story of how the UK came to be what it is today.

The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was a short-lived state founded in 1815 the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. It comprised the Netherlands as it is today and most of what is now Belgium (with the exception of the Belgian province of Luxembourg which was still a part of the Grand Duchy at that time). Divided along both religious and linguistic lines, the state was highly unstable and in 1830 one of the few successful revolutions of the liberal/romantic era led to the foundation of an independent Belgium.

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