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United Kingdom: Country
General InformationThe United Kingdom consists of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is the fourth most populated country in Europe. The English constitute more than 80% of the nation's populace; with the Scottish making up nearly 10%; and the rest divided between the Welsh, Irish, and recent immigrants.
English language education has been vigorously promoted since the 18th century in order to spread its usage as the common language throughout the colonies. These early activities contributed to the dramatic rise of the English language and, of course, its expansion throughout the United States and Canada.
Students from around the world travel to the United Kingdom to receive high-quality education from the hundreds of language schools and its 88 universities. In 1999, Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a three-year global campaign to more actively promote the UK as an attractive study abroad destination for foreign students. Some measures are being put into practice, such as the simplification of visa entry formalities and the relaxation of employment regulations. The number of students wishing to study in the United Kingdom has already increased under these policies. The level of education in other fields besides the English language, such as fine art, music, and lifelong education is also very high.
ClimateThanks to a warm current blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico, the climate is comparatively mild throughout the year. In England the mean annual temperature at low altitudes varies from about 8.5ºC to 11ºC. July is normally the warmest month where the high temperatures bring about foggy or cloudy weather in the London area. The annual precipitation is 760mm with rain falling typically one out of every three days. The sunniest parts of the United Kingdom are along the south coast of England. Mean daily sunshine figures reach a maximum in May or June, and are lowest in December.
HistoryThe United Kingdom is a nation fully aware of its long and rich history. Archaeological sites can be traced back to 5000 B.C. even though it was not until the years just before and after the birth of Jesus Christ that we first see documented descriptions of life on the island. The Romans arrived in England in 55 B.C. and did not withdraw until 410 A.D. Throughout the latter half of the first millennium, Christianity continued to prosper in the face of invasions by the Saxons. In 1066, the Magna Carta, a code of individual rights and laws, was enacted. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance years, English retained a working monarchy. With the creative explosion of the European Renaissance, English theatre and art reached its highest point. Trade pushed England's empire into Asia and the American colonies.
England was the birthplace of the industrial revolution when its population grew from an estimated 7,500,000 in 1750 to about 10,800,000 in 1801 (the year of the first national census), and then to approximately 23,130,000 in 1861. The growing population provided needed labor for industrial expansion and was accompanied by rapid urbanization.
The reign of Victoria (1837-1901) covered the period of Britain's commercial and industrial leadership and its greatest political influence. Great Britain's commercial territorial interests were advanced by the British navy in who 1839 fought the first Opium War with China. Britain successfully acquired Hong Kong as a colony.
The UK has been greatly influenced by the 20th century's two world wars. They have suffered from some of their neighbors' aggressiveness causing many to remain skeptical about the developing European Union. The UK retains very close ties with North America and continues to play a major role in the world's political, economic, and artistic stages.
National CharacterDue to its colonial reach, the United Kingdom has had a history of accepting immigrants. While the English attach importance to manners and tradition, they are very friendly and conduct themselves with sincerity when developing relationships with visitors.
There is a certain social formality observed by many British. This style may be less openly displayed than other European nations, but the underlying integrity of the "British Gentleman," is a suitable foundation for trusting and long-term friendships.
The British younger generation has always expressed a flexible attitude toward things that are avant-garde and innovative. This trait plays a major part in the development of a variety of creative fields, such as new forms of music, theatrical performance, and artistic expression.