How weird Everything can be. Why is there no sensible write-up on England? Okay, everyone knows what it is, but surely we could do with a basic outline. The following was written in haste with no intention of completeness.

The southern half of the island of Great Britain, corresponding roughly to the Roman province of Britannia; they ruled the local Celtic peoples through client kingdoms. After the withdrawal of the Roman legions in about 410, Germanic tribes began to invade: the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. The name England was early on used for the whole country, not just the region of the Angles. The Saxon kingdoms were gradually united under the house of Wessex, and by about 950 England was a unified kingdom, except that from time to time some parts of it were occupied by Danes. The Duke of Normandy claimed the throne in 1066 and conquered the country.

England conquered Ireland in the twelfth century, and Wales in the fourteenth, began to acquire an overseas empire in the sixteenth century, and was united with Scotland in the seventeenth. This was later formalized into the kingdom of Great Britain, then into the United Kingdom. The nation of England results from the fusion of all these influences. ("Britain" in modern use is a synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole.)

England is small in area but has a large population, being the great majority of the UK. This unavoidable dominance understandably causes friction in the other member countries. Wales has technically been part of England for legal purposes since 1536 (see England and Wales), but is de facto one of the four separate countries of the UK, and cannot in any other way be considered as part of England.

The country's pride is its countryside, green and small-scale, created by over a thousand years of habitation. There are no mountains or forests of any significance size, though the small patches of woodland are exquisite, and all the available agricultural land was taken by Saxon times. The highest peaks are in the beautiful Lake District in the north-west. The famous 'forests' such as Sherwood Forest and the New Forest are open spaces containing villages and some woodland. There is rugged moorland of great beauty in North Yorkshire, in Dartmoor and Exmoor in the south-west, and in Shropshire. The coast of Cornwall is spectacular.

The other element in England is its buildings, especially the parish churches. Virtually every last village has its church, dating from between 1100 and 1400, with brasses and effigies and gravestones. The cathedrals are magnificent. But England largely lacks stained glass, which was invented here (Jarrow) because of the savage iconoclasm of the Civil War. Then there are the magnificent houses of the past, the "stately homes", many of which are now open to the public. (My advice to those intending to visit and tour is to join the National Trust straight away, which will save a lot on individual admission prices, trust me.)

Every village also has its pub, where the people congregate every night, and here we drink beer. There's whole lot more to the country but someone else can tell it. The climate is mild and pleasant because of the Gulf Stream.