The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is located in north-western Europe. It is bordered on the south by the English Channel, which separates it from the continent of Europe; on the east by the North Sea; on the west by the Irish Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Republic of Ireland.
Great Britain is the largest island in the cluster of islands known as the British Isles. England is the largest and most populous division of the island of Great Britain, making up the south and east. Wales is on the west and Scotland is to the north. Northern Ireland is located in the north-east corner of Ireland, the second largest island in the British Isles. There are numerous smaller islands. Total area is 244 110 km2.
Highlands cover the northern half of Scotland. They are a region of mountain ranges, plateaus, and deep valleys, including the highest point in the British Isles, Ben Nevis (1 343 m). Many bays and inlets cut deeply into the coast. Soils are poor. South of the highlands lie broad lowlands in the valleys of the Clyde, Forth and Tay Rivers. To the south are more uplands, mostly rounded, rolling hills, rising in the south to the Cheviot Hills, which form the border between Scotland and England.
The Pennines are an upland region extending from the Scottish border about halfway down the length of England. They are made up of broad, rolling, windswept moorlands separated by deep river valleys. West of the Pennines lies the Lake District in the Cumbrian Mountains.
Wales lies south-west of the Pennine Range. The rugged Cambrian Mountains cover most of Wales, bordered by a narrow coastal plain.
The Southwest Peninsula, also known as the West Country, lies across the Bristol Channel to the south Wales. It is a granitic plateau with hilly, rough areas, the moorland plateaus of Dartmoor and Exmoor, and many picturesque valleys. Its sheltered areas are noted for their mild climate.
The English Lowlands cover all England south of the Pennines and east of Wales and the Southwest Peninsula. The Lowlands consist chiefly of broad, gently rolling plains, broken here and there by low hills and ridges. A grassy plain called the Midlands lies in the centre of the English Lowlands, just south of the Pennines. Parts of the Midlands extend along the western and eastern borders of the Pennines. South of the Thames, low chalk hills and valleys cross the land. Where the hills reach the sea, they form great white cliffs.
Northern Ireland is a region of low mountains, deep valleys, and fertile lowlands. The land is lowest near the centre and rises to its greatest heights near the north and east coasts.
There are numerous rivers and lakes. The longest rivers are the Severn, 354 km long, and the Thames, 346 km long. Other important rivers include the Mersey, Humber, Tyne, Clyde, Forth, Lagan, Bann and Foyle.
Although it is located as far north in latitude as Labrador in North America, the country is, like the rest of northern Europe, warmed by the Gulf Stream flowing out of the South Atlantic Ocean. Thus the climate, in general, is mild, chilly, and often wet. Rain or overcast skies can be expected for up to 300 days per year. These conditions make Britain lush and green with vegetation.
The mean annual temperature in the far north of Scotland is 6° C, and in warmer south-western England it is 11° C. In general, temperatures are ordinarily around 15° C in the summer and around 5° C in the winter. Temperatures rarely exceed 32° C or drop below -10° C anywhere in the British Isles. Frosts are rare.
Average annual precipitation is more than 1 000 mm, varying from the extremes of 5 000 mm in the western Highlands of Scotland to less than 500 mm in the driest parts of East Anglia in England. The western part of Britain receives much more moisture than the ea
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