England is the most populous and significant country of the United Kingdom with over 51 million residents. It includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isle of Wight, in addition to its mainland. It is bordered by Scotland, Wales, the Celtic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel.
Although being a relatively small country, England has held sway over almost every continent of the world at some time in history. This not only led to the spread of the English people all over the world, but also to the influx of other nations to this relatively small European island. As surrounding nations, and those further afield, arrived in their droves in search of money, power and better prospects, the English nation became a varied one. Languages, cultures and religions converged. Today, the population is one of ever-increasing diversity. This continues to draw people from all over the world; both as a holiday destination and as a home. The long history of England is evident by the many castles, forts, bridges and monuments erected in memory of long-ago events and people. These alone give this country an aura of historical resonance.
Early morning lights up the top of Big Ben across the Thames River
The country is fairly flat, but the expanses of lush, green vegetation, narrow roads, and stone houses certainly grant it a quaint beauty all its own. The coastal regions are well populated and promise stunning vistas.
London is the capital city of England. This city is an ever-bustling metropolis that has successfully combined modern amenities with quaint historical charm. The old buildings and awesome tourist attractions lend it an old-fashioned air, despite the thousands of locals rushing to and fro as they carry on their everyday routine.
Scotland borders England to the north and Wales forms much of the western border. This makes England ideally situated to be the base from which visitors explore the remainder of the United Kingdom. There are many rivers and lakes in this fertile land. The tidal rivers (Thames, Mersey and Tyne) are the most significant in terms of their continued functionality and the ports on their banks. The Lake District is where most of the English lakes are situated.
Typical dry stone walls and barns in Swaledale Yorkshire, England
England is ruled by a monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who uses a parliament to manage the country. A Prime Minister is elected from the leading party and exercises his authority in cooperation with the Queen.
The English culture is somewhat different to other nations, even those closely surrounding it. The cuisine is simple, using fresh ingredients of a high standard and avoiding strong herbs and spices. Many dishes hail from a time of farming or battle, when food supplies were usually grown at home and supplies were limited. As the origin of the English language, England has presented the world with many of the best known authors, playwrights and poets of all time. Well known examples are William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. Folklore is another popular element of the English culture. Tales of centuries ago continue to delight young and old, some even carrying their own annual festivals with them.
The country is a most rewarding destination. Not only is it rich in its historical and cultural spheres, but these elements have played a major role in most other countries in the world. Therefore, travellers from around the world are able to identify with much of its heritage, recognising the influence this had on their own culture and development.
Directgov - the official UK government web site for citizens - http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/index.htm
England's official tourism web site - http://www.enjoyengland.com/