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. Constitutional reform is also a significant issue in the UK. Regional assemblies with varying degrees of power opened in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 1999.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain can be subdivided in 5 areas : Northern England, Southern England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each and every area has its own language, culture and historical background. Both the English parts form the largest, most densily populated and thriving part of the country. The capital London lies in Southeast England.
Northern Ireland also belongs to the Kingdom, as well as a number of smaller islands, such as the desolate Hebrides west of Scotland, the Scilly Islands in the Channel and the Shetland Islands in the North Sea. Some Islands are not really a part of Great Britain but have strong adminitrative ties with the UK : the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, the Channel Islands Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney in front of the French coast. They have self-rule, but the British are responsible for defence and foreign affairs.
Also outside of Europe remainders can be found of the Empire “where the sun never sets” : Gibraltar, islands in the Pacific and Indian Ocean and the Falkland Islands close to Argentina. All these oversea areas are called “British Dependent Territories”. In our links section you will find a large number of web sites with more detailed information about the fascinating history and landscapes of this “great” Britain. source by hotels-europe.com