United Kingdom of great Britain and Northern Ireland

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

United Kingdom – Western Europe country (area 244000 square. km, population 59,6 mln.).

Great Britain, the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the earth’s surface. The first half of the 20th century saw the UK’s strength seriously depleted in two World Wars. The second half witnessed the dismantling of the Empire and the UK rebuilding itself into a modern and prosperous European nation. As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a founding member of NATO, and of the Commonwealth, the UK pursues a global approach to foreign policy; it currently is weighing the degree of its integration with continental Europe. A member of the EU, it chose to remain outside of the European Monetary Union for the time being.

UK is divided into four regions :England (capital – London),Scotland (capital – Edinburgh), Wales (capital – Cardiff), Northern Ireland (capital – Belfast).

LondonEngland’s capital city, London, brims with culture and is filled with artistic and architectural triumphs. It is a bustling, growing and varied metropolis with magical museums, great galleries, gourmet restaurants, clubs, nightlife and a diverse range of outstanding theater and music–all waiting for you, all year round.London description

The most popular places in London :

Big BenThe Tower BridgeHyde ParkLondon eyeTrafalgar squareBuckingham palaceSt Paul cathedralThe tower of londonWest endDowning streetLondon zooKensigton gardensWestminster AbbeyWestminster CathedralOther great places

London museums/galleries

National galleryNational portait galleryMadame Tussaud museumBrittish museumBrittish libraryLinks to other galleries/museums

Where to go? In Britain you will be spoilt for choice, as every corner offers something exciting and different for the visitor.

Britain is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, each with its own distinctive landscapes, traditions, history, architecture and people. From the Channel Islands to London to the tip of Scotland, you’ll have a wonderful time exploring Britain.

In a country just 85 miles long and 70 miles wide, you’ll find a surprisingly wide variety of scenery-majestic mountains, orchards and farmland, lakeland, forests, ancient walled cities and spectacular coastline, including the legendary Giant’s Causeway. Belfast, the capital city, offers museums and history, grand Victorian and Edwardian buildings, gardens, shopping and, of course, great nightlife. Added to the rich cultural inheritance, you’ll find castles and cathedrals, linen and lace, crystal and china, and some of the best golf courses in the world.

More on Northern Ireland

There is so much to explore in this land of historic cities, dramatic moorlands and gentle rolling pastures, incomparable theater, cathedral cities, country lanes and the quintessential English garden. Each area of England offers something new and unique: Cornwall’s quaint fishing villages in the South of England-Shakespeare country in the Heart of England-Cathedrals, castles and gardens in the East of England-Spectacular mountains and lakes in the Lake District-the historic cities of Chester and York in England’s North Country.

Scotland is a land steeped in history, whose folklore, legend and romance blend together to provide a spectacular and exciting destination. Unspoiled, wild and dramatic scenery with castles, battlefields and ancient settlements combine with modern, cultured, vibrant cities. For the naturalist, the angler, the hiker or the golfer, the countryside is a delight. Looking for museums, art and culture? Head for the cities: Glasgow or the capital city, Edinburgh, famous for its castle and international festivals. From the rolling farmland and rugged sea coasts in the southern Borders, to the mountains and lochs of the Highlands and the magical outer islands, wherever you travel you are assured of a warm and friendly welcome.

Wales is the land of legend, song, fire-breathing dragons, powerful wizards, sheep, more sheep, and undisputed natural beauty. You’ll find standing stones, Celtic crosses, castles, dramatic cliffs and mountains, wide sandy bays and lush green valleys in the Welsh countryside. The heritage and culture of Wales reach back over thousands of years-when poetry and music, art and craft, dance and story-telling all played an essential role. Cardiff, the capital city, is cosmopolitan and exciting–a far cry from the sleepy rural villages. Wales offers something for everyone.

The Lake District -England,s only mountainous region a miniature Switzerland of incomparable beauty -the Lake District its not a large area-Switzerland itself is 25 times larger-and from the 3118-foot (950 m) peak of Helvellyn, it is posable that on a clear day to see all-and beyond the hills of Scotland and the Irish sea. but within the Lake District’s 700 square miles (1800sq.km.) there are some 100 peaks over 2000 feet (600 m), 15 lakes. Nottingham is the regional capital of the East MidlandsFamous for both Robin Hood and Luddite riots, Nottinham was originally named “Snottingham” by the Danes who had settled there. Thank goodness the Normans who followed them were not able to pronounce the “SN” sound or this tourist spot may have never have become so popular. Lace making was the trade most famous here and you may see outstanding examples in the Costume and Textiles Museum and the Lace Centre housed in the timber framed Severn. Alabaster, also a famous specialty of Nottingham can be found in the church ajoining Holme-Pierpont Hall and in the Nottingham Robin Hood Robin Hood was a legendary English outlaw. Some people believe he really lived. In the legends, Robin Hood lived in Sherwood Forest with his band of merry men. Friar Tuck, Little John and Will Scarlet are the best known members of Robin Hood’s band.

The People.About two thousand years ago the people living in England were a branch of the Celtic people who were early settlers of Europe. These early English people were called Britons. The neighbors of England in Wales, Scotland, and parts of northern France are closely related to the old Britons. About 1,900 years ago armies from the Roman Empire conquered England and settled there. Then, about 1,500 years ago, Germanic peoples called Angles and Saxons settled in England (and the name of the country comes from the Angles). Other Germanic peoples, Jutes and Danes from Scandinavia, came a few hundred years later. In the year 1066 England was conquered by a Norman (French) king, called William the Conqueror, and he brought many Frenchmen with him. The English people of today are descended from all these different peoples and the English language includes words from the original languages of all these people.They are an intensely patriotic and loyal nation, and have often fought bravely to protect this little island and their precious rights as British citizens.Where Britain is divided into four separate countries, England itself is made up of four quite distinctive areas–The South of England, Heart of England, East of England, and England’s North Country–each offering something unique and exciting: majestic moorland and craggy peaks, lush green fields and fens, wide sandy beaches and quaint fishing villages. But England is not just countryside–there are elegant, refined and historic cities with Roman, Georgian, Tudor and Victorian influences; architectural splendors; university cities; cathedral cities and other vibrant, exciting cities with museums, art galleries, modern trendy restaurants, nightlife and some amazing theater. Whatever quintessentially English characteristic you crave–afternoon tea, cricket on the village green, a walk along the promenade or great theater and shopping–England has something for everyone.
Two international airports at Birmingham and Manchester offer direct flights to and from the US. Or you can fly to London and use the great network of trains and buses, purchase a tour package, or rent a car and drive yourself. Wondering where to stay? You’ll find hotels, hostels and hostelries, traditional thatched cottages, city apartments, farms, stately manors and an abundance of charming bed & breakfasts–something to suit everyone’s taste and budget. The South of England

England’s “Land of Heritage” from Dover on the east coast with its famous White Cliffs to Land’s End in the West. The southeast counties of Kent, Surrey, East- and West-Sussex are known as the “Garden of England”, where you’ll find castles and gardens galore, many with royal or literary connections –Dickens, Chaucer, Henry VIII. Follow “1066 Country” along the coast to Hastings or Rye and to Brighton–a traditional English seaside resort famous for its Pavilion and antiques. The River Thames flows from London through the Chiltern Hills of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and the University town of Oxford. If you arrive by ship, you’ll probably dock in Southampton, on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire. Take a ferry to the Isle of Wight or Channel Islands to explore the historic warships and Naval Museum in Portsmouth. Dorset is Thomas Hardy country, but you’ll find plenty of other literary connections in the south from Jane Austen to Agatha Christie–especially in the “English Riviera” towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. Ancient Stonehenge is probably the most famous and most popular tourist spot in Wiltshire, but there are abundant monuments and hillside figures, from giants to white horses, in the area. Walk or hike the coastal trails of Devon and Cornwall, or explore the wind-swept moors with rocky Tors and delightful wild ponies, but don’t miss the thriving art-lovers resort, St Ives, with its modern Tate Gallery or Tintagel–the Birthplace of King Arthur. Try a taste of local cider from the orchards of Somerset, or cheese from Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip Hills, explore Exmoor, climb Glastonbury Tor. Visit the Roman Baths in Georgian Bath, or find out about Bristol’s maritime heritage — there’s something for everyone in the South.

Heart of England

Discover the Heart of England, and over 2,000 years of civilization in a land famed for its natural beauty and heritage. Shropshire, in the west of the region, is where England meets Wales. Home of Brother Cadfael and Ironbridge you will also find beautiful medieval towns with distinctive “black and white” Tudor architecture that continues into Herefordshire. The cathedral city of Worcester lies in the midst of unspoiled rolling countryside and the Malvern Hills. Cheltenham, a Regency Spa town, marks the start of the “Romantic Road” that leads you through the Gloucestershire Cotswold villages, with their honey-colored picturesque stone cottages. Shakespeare Country is Stratford-upon-Avon, where you’ll find the Bard’s birthplace, former home and final resting place, and of course Shakespeare Theater, Historic Warwick, with its famous medieval castle, Kenilworth and Royal Leamington Spa. Birmingham offers a great gateway to the region with its international airport, but don’t miss out on a great city bursting with art, culture, music, nightlife and shopping. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Royal Ballet are world class, and the Jewelry Quarter is a shopper’s hidden gem. The Black Country highlights Britain’s industrial heritage, and The Potteries, in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, is the birthplace of English ceramics: Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Spode, Minton, Portmeirion, Moorcroft or Ansley, and more. Derbyshire and the surrounding hills of the Peak District offer a walker’s paradise, stately homes and Bakewell Puddings. Lincolnshire borders the east coast, with its cathedral city, Lincoln, the bustling market town of Boston–associated with the pilgrim fathers–and the annual spectacular flower and bulb festival in Spalding. Robin Hood lived in Sherwood Forest, in Nottinghamshire, where the English Civil War began and ended, although Nottingham is just as famous for its beautiful handmade lace. Leicestershire is renowned for Stilton cheese, Pork Pies and where Richard III met his untimely end, while Althorp in Northamptonshire was the family home of Diana, Princess of Wales, surrounded by more rolling countryside and wide, unspoiled open spaces–all just waiting to be explored.

East of EnglandCoast and countryside, gardens and historic houses, cathedral cities and gentle waterways…take time to explore the “Real England”. In Cambridgeshire, you can explore the cathedral cities Peterborough and Ely, find the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell in Huntingdon, cycle along the great dykes of the Fens, punt along the river in the university town of Cambridge, or visit the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. From the Royal home at Sandringham to the cathedral city of Norwich, Norfolk offers pretty villages, bustling market towns, famous gardens like those at Norfolk Lavender, beach resorts and miles of tranquil waterways–The Norfolk Broads. The Heritage County of Suffolk is the home of horse racing, at Newmarket, and artists Gainsborough and Constable. You’ll find Anglo-Saxon villages, medieval abbeys and churches, thatched, timbered cottages–a haven for sailing, bird-watching and antique collectors alike–and the annual Aldeburgh Festival. Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire are home to several historic houses including Hatfield House, Knebworth House and Woburn Abbey. The famous “Gardens of the Rose” are in the Roman town of Verulamium, St Albans, and aviation enthusiasts won’t want to miss the historic collection at Shuttleworth. Colchester in Essex is Britain’s oldest recorded town, founded by the Romans, and there are other historic country towns like Saffron Walden. The old port town of Maldon and the friendly seaside resorts at Clacton and Southend-on-Sea are all part of Essex’s charm. Harwich is the gateway to Holland and Europe, with regular ferries across the North Sea. Stansted in Essex, London’s third airport, now offers direct flights from the US–so it’s even easier to explore this region.

England’s North Country

A region of stunning countryside and coastline, historic and fashionable cities, five National Parks and its own magical island…The Kingdom of the Isle of Man. A region that begins with Roman occupation through Viking, Norman, Medieval and Victorian times and extends to the vibrant culture of today.

Manchester International Airport is the gateway to the North and to England’s Northwest region, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the Rolls Royce, the first passenger trains, great soccer clubs and the Beatles! The region is dominated by the great Victorian cities of Manchester and Liverpool, two of England’s most dynamic spots, with grand old architecture alongside modern museums, art galleries, restaurants and a thriving nightlife. In Manchester, look out for the new Lowry Gallery complex or take a trip to sporting legend at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United Soccer Club. No trip to Liverpool would be complete without a Magical Mystery Tour of the Fab Four’s famous haunts, but also check out the Maritime Museum or take a ferry across the Mersey from the renovated waterfront. The magnificent Roman city of Chester, with its distinct black and white Tudor architecture and Norman cathedral, is the heart of Cheshire, a county rich in gardens and manor houses including Tatton Park with its wonderful annual flower show. Travel through the Ribble Valley in Lancashire and follow the Pendle Witches Trail to medieval Lancaster Castle, where the witches stood trial. There’s plenty of golf here, too, at Lytham St Anne’s and the elegant resort of Southport. Blackpool with its Pleasure Beach and its world famous Illuminations is Britain’s most popular seaside resort.