United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has been called the biggest small country on Earth due to its sheer diversity. The UK is short for the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” and is formed by Northern Ireland and the countries of Great Britain –  England, Scotland and Wales. Each of these countries have a very distinct identity and you should not call a Welshman English or vice versa, and some may not like being called ‘British’, even though the Welsh (and the Cornish) are the original Britons.

In this site the different islands in the Irish Sea and those North of Scotland are also taken into consideration. The United Kingdom has too many sites to mention. Though detached from the continent of Europe by only a few miles of water, the UK is permeated by a strong sense of its cultural separateness. Everything is different here: measures (pounds and ounces are still more popular than the now official kilos), traffic (small island, lots of traffic jams), customs and food. Life in the UK retains an extravagant continuity with a past that has little in common with its European sisters and brothers unity, some citizens (especially in England, less in Scotland which considers itself more European) still have problems, not only with accepting the European idea, but also with defining the concept of the United Kingdom itself.

Northern Ireland is the most intractable aspect of national identity, but also Wales and Scotland have a long tradition of independent nationhood and autonomous cultures. Some belated recognition of this has resulted in the establishment of political Assemblies for each country, albeit with limited and differing powers for each.

But there are also things that resemble Europe: nationwide shops and businesses rule the appearance of most high streets, the tourist infrastructure is very well developed all over the UK and the growth of a nostalgia-obsessed heritage industry has produced a lot of museums, theme parks and commemorative monuments. However, the country is rich in monuments, that attest to its intricate history; from ancient hill forts and Roman villas, through a host of medieval cathedrals to the ambitious civic projects of the Industrial Revolution.

The UK offers a lot of diversion to all its tourists: For pulsing cultural and nightlife, London, Manchester and Leeds are a must. To feel the charm of the English seaside and the importance of harbours for an island like the British Isles, travel along the southeastern coastline and explore the heritage of Maritime England at Portsmouth. In the central part of England you will find towns plenty of historical heritage like Salisbury, Oxford, Cambridge and many many more.

Western and northern England fascinate with beautiful landscapes: rugged moorlands, picturesque flatlands and rocky coastlines. A visit to the South Western penninsula is a must – Dartmoor and Exmoor in Devon and Somerset, and Bodmin in Cornwall. Also, in Newquay there is world class surfing. For true wilderness, however, you better travel to the mountains of Wales or the Scottish Highlands. The finest of Scotland ‘s lochs, glens and peaks, and the magnificent scenery of the west coast islands, can be reached easily from the contrasting cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh .
Authors: hpharmsen, giorgio, castlering, pompeyjohn