• As part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“the UK”), England is a parliamentary democracy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. Its traditional industries – fishing, farming, mining, engineering, shipbuilding – are all in decline and business today is dominated by banking and finance, the media and technology, steel production, oil and gas, and tourism.

Bordered by Scotland to the north and Wales to the west, England is the largest country in Great Britain, occupying an area of 50,085 sq miles (129,720 sq km). The terrain is diverse, from plains to peaks, cliffs to beaches, though the superlatives are all modest on a world scale – the largest lake, Windermere, is 10 miles (16km) long, the highest mountain, Scafell, just 3205ft (978m) above sea level.

The population of nearly 52 million is dense for a country of its size, but settlement is concentrated in the southeast around London, and in the large industrial cities of the Midlands and the North.

This is one of the world’s most multiethnic countries, made up largely of people of Anglo-Saxon, Scots, Welsh and Irish descent, but with sizeable communities from the Caribbean, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, China, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.

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8 things you didn't know you could do in the UK

8 things you didn't know you could do in the UK

So you've gawked at the guards of Buckingham Palace, hiked up Snowdon and hit the beach – what next? From lethal motorcycle races to mountain towns that …

31 Jul 2015 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
This summer you can hire a sandcastle butler

This summer you can hire a sandcastle butler

You’ve dug a moat, successfully sculpted a mound higher than your knees and managed to drizzle a viscous mixture of sand and salt water over the château spir…

16 Jul 2015 • Colt St. George insert_drive_file Article
The best hostels in Europe

The best hostels in Europe

Taken from the Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget, here's our pick of the best hostels in Europe. Europe presents an irresistible challenge to the budget trav…

04 Mar 2015 • Site Editor insert_drive_file Article
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