When we speak of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland we actually speak about four countries united into one state. So Great Britain proper comprises: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each of these countries has its own language, its capital, its government.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain is situated on the British Isles lying to the north-west of the continent of Europe. The British Isles consists of two main Islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and over five hundred small Islands.
Britain is comparatively small, but thee is hardly a county in the world where such a variety of scenery can be found in so small a compass. There are wild desolate mountains in the northern Highlands of Scotland, flat tulip fields round the Fens, that would make you think you were in Holland, within a few miles of Manchester and Sheffield you can be in glorious heather-covered moors.
You can notice on the map how deeply indented the coastline is. This indentation gives a good supply of splendid harbours for ships; and you can note too, that owning to the shape of the country there is no point in it that is more than seventy miles from the sea.
The surface of England and Ireland is rather flat while the highland area comprises Scotland and most of Wales. The Cheviot Hills running from east to west, separate England from Scotland. The Pennine Chain extends southward from the Cheviot Hills into the Midlands.
There are many rivers in Great Britain but they are not long. The longest river is the Severn, flowing south-west into the Irish Sea. The busiest and the most important river is the Thames. The chief river in Scotland is the Clyde. Many of the English and Scottish rivers are joined by canals, so that it’s possible to travel by water from one end of Great Britain to the other. The rivers of Britain are of no great value as water-ways, few of them are navigable except near the mouth for anything but the smaller vessels.
The UK has many beautiful lakes in Scotland and north-west England. Many Scottish valleys between the hills are filled with lakes, called lochs. The best known is Loch Ness where as some people think a large monster lives. The Lake District in northern England with its lakes, mountains and valleys is a favourite holiday resort.
There are no great forests in Great Britain now. Historically, the most famous forest is Sherwood Forest, the home of Robin Hood. It is to the north of London.
The seas round the British Isles are shallow. The North Sea is nowhere more than 600 feet deep, so that if St. Paul’s Cathedral were put down in any part of it some of the cathedral would still be above water.
The Atlantic Ocean and the warm waters of Gulf Stream influence the climate of Great Britain, making it temperate and mild. Rains all year round and thick fogs in autumn or in winter are the most typical features of the climate in Great Britain.