The United Kingdom (UK), short for the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, is a country that consists of four constituent nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. England, Scotland, and Wales together are known as Great Britain.
Each of the four constituent countries of the UK has a different history, culture and identity. The amalgamation of four different nationalities is one of the reasons why the United Kingdom is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse countries in the world. A wave of immigration in the last century from all parts of the world, especially from Africa, India, and Pakistan, has also contributed to UK’s rich multicultural makeup.
UK, however, is also geographically diverse. The landscape features a mountainous northwest in the Cumbrians, upland moors in the north, lakes in Scotland and the Lake district, limestone hills and low ranges in the Cotswolds, Isle of Purbeck, and Lincolnshire Wolds, chalk downs in the south, stunning beaches in Wales and Southern England, and Ice Age formed forests in Nottinghamshire, home of the legendary Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
Culturally, the UK has a longstanding heritage of embrace and support for the arts – literature, music, theatre. William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, John Keats, Lord Byron, and William Blake represent only a short list of the famous names who have contributed to these arenas. Today, the arts remain a thriving aspect of UK life, and visitors should expect a treat, whether at a poetry reading in a coffee shop, a play or musical at the London West End, a concert at the London Symphony Orchestra, an opera at the Royal Opera House, or a tour of the hundreds of art galleries in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Perhaps the most charming thing about the UK are the thousands of small medieval-like villages and cottages that are found in the countryside with their timber-framed houses and thatched roofs, although you’ll also find modern metropolises brimming with life in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast. London is the gateway to the UK, famous for its government sights like the Houses of Parliament, museums and galleries like the National Gallery and the National History Museum, and landmarks like the Big Ben, London Bridge, Tower of London, and London eye. Outside of London are world-famous university towns like Oxford and Cambridge, the castle residence of the Queen at Windsor, seaside resorts in Bournemouth and Brighton, harbor-side villages in Devon, Cornwall, and Dorset, and beaches along Wales’ Pembrokeshire coast and in the Scottish islands of Orkney, Skye, and Shetland.