Sunday, November 1, 2009


Flag Royal Standard

is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the North Sea to the east, with the English Channel to the south separating it from continental Europe. The mainland of England consists of the central and southern part of the island of Great Britain in the North Atlantic, but England also includes over 100 smaller islands such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

The area now called England has been settled by people of various cultures for about 35,000 years, but it takes its name from the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes who settled during the 5th and 6th centuries. England became a unified state in AD 927, and since the Age of Discovery, which began during the 15th century, has had a significant cultural and legal impact on the wider world.The English language, the Anglican Church, and English law—the basis for the common law legal systems of many other countries around the world—developed in England, and the country's parliamentary system of government has been widely adopted by other nations. The Industrial Revolution began in 18th-century England, transforming the country into the world's first industrialised nation, and its Royal Society laid the foundations of modern experimental science.

Most of England is lowland, but there are upland regions in the north (for example, the Lake District, Pennines, and Yorkshire Moors) and in the south and south west (for example, Dartmoor, the Cotswolds, and the North and South Downs). London, England's capital, is the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. England's population is about 51 million, around 84% of the population of the United Kingdom, and is largely concentrated in London, the South East and conurbations in the Midlands, the North West, the North East and Yorkshire, which developed as major industrial regions during the 19th century.

The Kingdom of England—which included Wales—was a sovereign state until 1 May 1707, when the Acts of Union put into effect the terms agreed in the Treaty of Union the previous year, resulting in a political union with the Kingdom of Scotland to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1800, Great Britain was united with Ireland through another Act of Union to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922 the Irish Free State was established as a separate dominion, but the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act in 1927 reincorporated into the kingdom six Irish counties to officially create the current United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


The name "England" is derived from the Old English word Englaland, which means "land of the Angles". The Angles were one of the Germanic tribes that settled in England during the Early Middle Ages. The Angles came from the Angeln peninsula in the Bay of Kiel area of the Baltic Sea. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known use of "England" to refer to the southern part of the island of Great Britain occurs in 897, and its modern spelling was first used in 1538. The earliest attested mention of the name occurs in the 1st century work by Tacitus, Germania, in which the Latin word Anglii is used. The etymology of the tribal name itself is disputed by scholars; it has been suggested that it derives from the shape of the Angeln peninsula, an angular shape.

The name Albion originally referred to the entire island of Great Britain. The earliest record of the name appears in the Aristotelian Corpus, specifically the 4th century De Mundo: "Beyond the Pillars of Hercules is the ocean that flows round the earth. In it are two very large islands called Britannia; these are Albion and Ierne". The word Albion (Ἀλβίων) or insula Albionum has two possible origins. It either derives from the Latin albus meaning white, a reference to the white cliffs of Dover, which is the first view of Britain from the European Continent. An alternative origin is suggested by the ancient merchant's handbook Massaliote Periplus which mentions an "island of the Albiones". Albion is now applied to England in a more poetic capacity. Another romantic name for England is Loegria, related to the Welsh Lloegr, which is derived from Arthurian legend.


Prehistory and antiquity

Sun shining through row of upright standing stones with other stones horizontally on the top.

Stonehenge, a Neolithic monument

The oldest proto-human bones discovered in the area date from 700,000 years ago. The discovery, of Homo erectus remains, was made in what is today Norfolk and Suffolk. Modern humans first arrived in the area around 35,000 years ago; but due to the tough conditions of the Last Ice Age, known specifically in this area as the Devensian glaciation, they fled from Britain to the mountains of southern Europe. Only large mammals such as mammoths, bison and woolly rhinoceros remained. Roughly 11,000 years ago, when the ice sheets began to recede, humans repopulated the area; genetic research suggests they came from the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula. The sea level was lower than now, and Britain was connected by land to both Ireland and Eurasia. As the seas rose, it was separated from Ireland 9,000 years ago and from Eurasia half a century later. Beaker culture arrived around 2500 BC, and the making of food vessels constructed out of clay and copper was introduced. It was during this time that major Neolithic monuments such as Stonehenge and Avebury were constructed. By heating together tin and copper, both of which were in abundance in the area, the Beaker culture people were able to make bronze, and later iron from iron ores. They were able to spin and weave sheep's wool, from which they made clothing.

Painting of woman, with outstretched arm, in white dress with red cloak and helmet, with other human figures to her right and below her to the left.

Boudica led an uprising against the Roman Empire.

During the Iron Age, Celtic culture, deriving from the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures, arrived from Central Europe. The development of iron smelting allowed the construction of better ploughs, advancing agriculture (for instance, with Celtic fields), as well as the production of more effective weapons. Brythonic was the spoken language during this time. Society was tribal; according to Ptolemy's Geographia there were around 20 different tribes in the area, however earlier divisions are unknown because the Britons were not literate. Like other regions on the edge of the Empire, Britain had long enjoyed trading links with the Romans. Julius Caesar of the Roman Republic attempted to invade twice in 55 BC; although largely unsuccessful, he managed to set up a client king from the Trinovantes. The Romans conquered Britain in AD 43 during the reign of Emperor Claudius, and the area was incorporated into the Roman Empire as Britannia province.[27] The best known of the native tribes who attempted to resist were the Catuvellauni led by Caratacus. Later, an uprising led by Boudica, queen of the Iceni, resulted in her death at the Battle of Watling Street. This era saw a Greco-Roman high culture prevail with the introduction of law and order, Roman architecture, personal hygiene, sewage systems, education, many agricultural items, and silk. In the 3rd century, Emperor Septimius Severus died at York, where Constantine was subsequently proclaimed emperor. Christianity was first introduced around this time, though there are traditions linked to Glastonbury claiming an introduction through Joseph of Arimathea, while others claim through Lucius of Britain. By 410, as their Empire declined, the Romans had left the island, to defend their frontiers in continental Europe.

Middle Ages

Studded and decorated metallic mask of human face.

A 7th century ceremonial helmet from the Kingdom of East Anglia, found at Sutton Hoo

Following the Roman retreat, Britain was left open to invasion by pagan, seafaring warriors such as Saxons and Jutes who gained control in areas around the south east. The advance was contained for a while after the Britons' victory at the Battle of Mount Badon. The Sub-Roman Brythonic kingdoms in the north, later known collectively by British bards as the Hen Ogledd, were also gradually conquered by Angles during the 6th century. Reliable contemporary accounts from this period are scarce, as is archaeological evidence, giving rise to its description as a Dark Age. There are various conflicting theories on the extent and process of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain; Cerdic, founder of the Wessex dynasty, may have been a Briton.Nevertheless, by the 7th century a coherent set of Anglo-Saxon petty kingdoms known as the Heptarchy had emerged in southern and central Britain: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex. Christianity was introduced in the south by Augustine from Rome and in the north by Aidan from Ireland. This reintroduced Christianity, which was lost after the founding of the Heptarchy. The title Bretwalda, meaning "Lord of the Britons", denoted the most influential kingship. Northumbria and Mercia were the most dominant forces early on. However, following Viking conquests in the north and east, and the imposition of Danelaw, the premier English kingdom became Wessex under Alfred the Great. His grandson Athelstan unified England in 927, although this was only cemented after Edred defeated the Viking Eric Bloodaxe. King Cnut the Great briefly incorporated England into an empire which also included Denmark and Norway.However the Wessex dynasty was restored under Edward the Confessor.

Painting of figures, on foot and horseback with swords and bows. In the background are water and buildings.

Victory at the Battle of Agincourt, fought on Saint Crispin's Day

England was conquered in 1066 by an army led by William the Conquerer from the Duchy of Normandy, a fief of the Kingdom of France. The Normans themselves originated from Scandinavia and had settled in Normandy a few centuries earlier. They introduced feudalism and maintained power through barons, who set up castles across England. The spoken language of the new aristocratic elite was Norman French, which would have considerable influence on the English language. The House of Plantagenet from Anjou inherited the English throne under Henry II, adding England to the budding Angevin Empire of fiefs the family had inherited in France including Aquitaine. They reigned for three centuries, proving noted monarchs such as Richard I, Edward I, Edward III and Henry V. The period saw improvements in trade and legislation, including the signing of the Magna Carta. Catholic monasticism flourished, providing philosophers and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge were founded with royal patronage. The Principality of Wales became a Plantagenet fief during the 13th century and the Lordship of Ireland was gifted to the English monarchy by the Pope. During the 14th century, the Plantagenets and House of Valois both claimed to be legitimate claimants to House of Capet and with it France—the two powers clashed in the Hundred Years' War.[41] The Black Death epidemic hit England, starting in 1348, it eventually killed up to half of the countries inhabitants. From 1453 to 1487 civil war between two branches of the royal family occurred—the Yorkists and Lancastrians—known as the Wars of the Roses. Eventually it led to the Yorkists losing the throne entirely to a Welsh noble family the Tudors, a branch of the Lancastrians headed by Henry Tudor who invaded with Welsh and Breton mercenaries, gaining victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field where the Yorkist king Richard III was killed.

Early Modern

Painting of large bearded man with fur trimmed cloak, wearing a hat.

became King Henry VIIISupreme Governor of the Church of England.

The Tudor period would prove to be eventful.The Renaissance reached England through Italian courtiers, who reintroduced artistic, educational and scholary debate from classical antiquity. During this time England began to develop naval skills, including inventing the theodolite and exploring to the West. The catalyst for such explorations, was the Ottoman Empire's control of the Mediterranean Sea, which blocked off trade with the East for the Christian states of Europe.[46] Henry VIII broke from communion with the Catholic Church, over issues relating to divorce, under the Acts of Supremacy in 1534 which proclaimed the monarch head of the Church of England. Contrary to much of European Protestantism, the roots of the split were more political than theological.[note 2] Tudor also legally incorporated his ancestral land Wales into the Kingdom of England with the 1535–1542 acts. There were internal religious conflicts during the reigns of Henry's daughters; Mary I and Elizabeth I. The former attempted to bring the country back to Catholicism, while the later broke from it again more forcefully asserting the supremacy of Anglicanism.[46] An English fleet under Francis Drake defeated an invading Spanish Armada during the Elizabethan period. Competing with Spain, the first English colony in the Americas was founded by explorer Walter Raleigh in 1585 and named Virginia. With the East India Company, England also competed with the Dutch and French to the East. The nature of the island was changed, when the Stuart King of Scotland, from a kingdom which was previously a long time rival, inherited the throne of England—creating a personal union under James I in 1603. He styled himself King of Great Britain, despite having no basis in English law.

Painting of seated male figure, with long black hair wearing a white cape and britches.

The English Restoration restored the monarchy under King Charles II and peace after the English Civil War.

Based on conflicting political, religious and social positions, there was an English Civil War between the supporters of Parliament and those of king Charles I, known as Roundheads and Cavaliers respectively. This was an interwoven part of the wider multifacited Wars of the Three Kingdoms, involving Scotland and Ireland. The Parliamentarians were victorious, Charles I was executed and the kingdom replaced with the Commonwealth. Leader of the Parliament forces, Oliver Cromwell declared himself Lord Protector in 1653, a period of personal rule followed.By the time of Cromwell's death, England had largely grown weary of Puritan rule, many wanted to patch up old wounds and so Charles II was invited to return as monarch in 1660 with the Restoration. It was now constitutionally established that King and Parliament should rule together, though in practice this was not fully cemeted until the following century. With the founding of the Royal Society, science and the arts were encouraged. The Great Fire of London in 1666 gutted the capital but it was rebuilt shortly after.In Parliament two factions had emerged—the Tories and Whigs. The former were royalists while the latter were classical liberals. Though the Tories initially supported Catholic king James II, some of them, along with the Whigs deposed him at the Revolution of 1688 and invited Dutch prince William III to become monarch. Some English people, especially in the north were Jacobites and continued to support James and his sons. After the parliaments of England and Scotland both agreed,the two countries joined in political union, to create the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. To accomodate the union, institutions such as the law and national church of each remained separate.

Late Modern and contemporary

A stone factory stands against a vivid blue sky, its reflection mirrored in the waters below.

The World Heritage Site — Saltaire, West Yorkshire is a model mill town from the Industrial Revolution.

Under the newly formed Kingdom of Great Britain, output from the Royal Society and other English initiatives combined with the Scottish Enlightenment to create innovations in science and engineering. This paved the way for the establishment of the British Empire, which became the largest in history. Domestically it drove the Industrial Revolution, a period of profound change in the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of England, resulting in industrialised agriculture, manufacture, engineering and mining, as well as new and pioneering road, rail and water networks to facilitate their expansion and development. The opening of northwest England's Bridgewater Canal in 1761 ushered in the canal age in Britain.[56][57] In 1825 the world's first permanent steam locomotive-hauled passenger railway—the Stockton and Darlington Railway—opened to the public. During the Industrial Revolution, many workers moved from England's countryside to new and expanding urban industrial areas to work in factories, for instance at Manchester and Birmingham, dubbed "Warehouse City" and "Workshop of the World" respectively. England maintained relative stability throughout the French Revolution; William Pitt the Younger was British Prime Minister for the reign of George III. During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon Bonaparte planned to invade from the south-east. However this failed to manifest and the Napoleonic forces were defeated by the British at sea by Lord Nelson and on land by the Duke of Wellington. The Napoleonic Wars fostered a concept of Britishness and a united national British people, shared with the Scots and Welsh.

A cuboid granite cenotaph, flanked by red wreaths.

The Cenotaph at Whitehall is a memorial to members of the British Armed Forces who died during the two World Wars.

London became the largest and most populous metropolitan area in the world during the Victorian era, and trade within the British Empire—as well as the standing of the British military and navy—was prestigious. Political agitation at home from radicals such as the Chartists and the suffragettes enabled legislative reform and universal suffrage. Power shifts in east-central Europe led to World War I; thousands of English soldiers died in trenches fighting for the United Kingdom as part of the Allies. Two decades later, in World War II, the United Kingdom again fought for the Allies. Winston Churchill was the wartime Prime Minister.Developments in warfare technology saw many cities damaged by air-raids during The Blitz. Following the war the British Empire experienced rapid decolonisation, as well as a series of technological innovations—automobiles became the primary means of transport and Whittle's development of the jet engine led to wider air travel. Since the 20th century there has been significant population movement to England, mostly from other parts of the British Isles, but also from the Commonwealth, particularly the Indian subcontinent. Since the 1970s there has been a large move away from manufacturing and an increasing emphasis on the service industry. As part of the United Kingdom, the area joined a common market initiative called the European Economic Community which became the European Union. Since the late 20th century the administration of the United Kingdom has moved towards devolved governance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.England and Wales continues to exist as a legal entity within the United Kingdom. Devolution has stimulated a greater emphasis on a more English-specific identity and patriotism. There is no devolved English government, but an attempt to create a similar system on a sub-regional basis was rejected by referendum.



Photograph of rectangular floodlight building, reflected in water. The building has multiple towers including one at each end. The tower on the right includes an illuminated clock face.

Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

As part of the United Kingdom, the basic political system in England is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. There has not been a Government of England since 1707, when the Acts of Union 1707, putting into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union, joined England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. Before the union England was ruled by its monarch and the Parliament of England. Today England is governed directly by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, although other countries of the United Kingdom have devolved governments. In the House of Commons which is the lower house of the British Parliament based at the Palace of Westminster, there are 529 Members of Parliament for constituencies in England, out of the 646 total. In the United Kingdom general election, 2005 the Labour Party had the most MPs elected in England with 284, while the Conservative Party had 194 MPs elected although they received a larger percentage of the popular vote than any other party with 35.7%. The third largest party are the Liberal Democrats who had 47 MPs elected. Respect and Health Concern each have one MP, and there is an Independent Labour member originally elected for Labour. The two largest parties are led by Gordon Brown for Labour and David Cameron for the Conservatives.

Lines of men wearing large black bearskin hats and red tunics.

Changing of the Queen's Guard at the royal residence, Buckingham Palace

As the United Kingdom is a member of the European Union, there are elections held regionally in England to decide who is sent as Members of the European Parliament. The 2009 European Parliament election saw the regions of England elect the following MEPs: twenty-three Conservatives, ten Labour, nine United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), nine Liberal Democrats, two Greens and two British National Party (BNP). Since devolution, in which other countries of the United Kingdom—Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—each have their own devolved parliament or assemblies for local issues, there has been debate about how to counterbalance this in England. Originally it was planned that various regions of England would be devolved, but this was rejected in a referendum. One major issue is the West Lothian question, in which MPs from Scotland and Wales are able to vote on legislation affecting only England, while English MPs have no equivalent right to legislate on devolved matters. This when placed in the context of England being the only country of the United Kingdom not to have free cancer treatment, prescriptions, residential care for the elderly and free top-up university fees, has led to a steady rise in English nationalism. Some have suggested the creation of a devolved English parliament, while others have proposed simply limiting voting on legislation which only effects England to English MPs.


Ornate grey stone building with multiple turrets and arched windows.

The Royal Courts of Justice

The English law legal system, developed over the centuries, is the foundation of many legal systems throughout the Anglosphere.[79] Despite now being part of the United Kingdom, the legal system of the Courts of England and Wales continued as a separate legal system to the one used in Scotland as part of the Treaty of Union. The general essence of English law is that it is made by judges sitting in courts, applying their common sense and knowledge of legal precedentstare decisis—to the facts before them.[80] The court system is headed by the Supreme Court of Judicature, consisting of the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Justice for civil cases and the Crown Court for criminal cases.[81] The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the highest court for criminal and civil cases in England and Wales, it was created in 2009 after constitutional changes, taking over the judicial functions of the House of Lords. A decision of the highest appeal court in England and Wales, the Supreme Court, is binding on every other court in the hierarchy, which follow its directions. Crime increased between 1981–1995, though since then there has been 42% fall in crime for the period 1995–2006. The prison population doubled over the same period, giving it the highest incarceration rate in Western Europe at 147 per 100,000. Her Majesty's Prison Service reporting to the Ministry of Justice, manages most prisons, housing over 80,000 convicts.

Regions, counties and districts

Tyne and Wear
North Yorkshire
E. Riding of Yorks.
S. Yorks.
W. Yorks.
Gr. Manc.
W. Mids.
Gr. London
E. Sussex
W. Sussex
Isle of Wight

The subdivisions of England consist of as many as four levels of subnational division controlled through a variety of types of administrative entites. They have been created for the purposes of local government in England. The highest tier of local government are the nine regions of England—North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East, South East, South West and Greater London. These were created in 1994 as Government Offices, used by the British Government to deliver a wide range of policies and programmes regionally. They are used for electing Members of the European Parliament on a regional basis. After devolution began to take place in other parts of the United Kingdom it was planned that referendums for the regions of England would take place for their own regional assemblies as a counterweight. London accepted in 1998—the London Assembly was created two years later. However, the proposal was rejected by the northern England devolution referendums, 2004 in the North East, further referendums were cancelled. There are plans to abolish the remaining regional assemblies in 2010 and transfer their functions to respective Regional Development Agencies and new system of Local Authority Leaders’ Boards.

Below the regional level all of England is divided into one of 48 ceremonial counties. These counties are used primarily as a geographical frame of reference and have developed gradually since the Middle Ages, with some established as recently as 1974. Each has a Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff; these posts are used to represent the British monarch locally.Outside Greater London and the Isles of Scilly, England is also divided into 83 metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties; these correspond to areas used for the purposes of local government and may consist of a single district or be divided into several. There are six metropolitan counties which are based on the most heavily urbanised areas and do not have county councils. In these areas the principle authorities are the councils of the subdivisions, the metropolitan boroughs. 27 non-metropolitan "shire" counties have a county council and are divided into districts, each with a district council. They are typically, though not always, found in more rural areas. The remaining non-metropolitan counties are of a single district and usually correspond to large towns or counties with low populations; they are known as unitary authorities. Greater London has a different system for local governance, with thirty-two London boroughs and the City of London covering a small area at the core, which is governed by the City of London Corporation. At the most localised level, much of England is divided into civil parishes with councils; they do not exist in Greater London.


Landscape and rivers

Blue lake between green hills.

Wastwater in the Lake District

Geographically England comprises the central and southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain, plus such offshore islands as the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly. It is bordered by two fellow countries of the United Kingdom—to the north by Scotland and to the west by Wales. England is closer to the European Continent than any other part of mainland Britain. It is separated from France by a 34-kilometre (21 mi) sea gap, though the two countries are connected by the Channel Tunnel near Folkestone.[94][95] As England is on an island, is it surrounded by the water of the Irish Sea, North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The most important rivers in England, because of their ports of London, Liverpool, and Newcastle, are the tidal rivers Thames, Mersey and Tyne. The tides raise the level of water in their estuaries and enable ships to enter the ports. At 354 kilometres (220 mi), the Severn is the longest river flowing through England. It empties into the Bristol Channel and is notable for its Severn Bore tidal waves, which can reach 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height.However, the longest river entirely in England is the Thames, which is 346 kilometres (215 mi) in length.There are many lakes in England but the majority are in the aptly named Lake District; the largest of which is Lake Windermere, it is known by the nickname "Queen of Lakes".

Green hills with trees in the foreground.

Terrain of Dartmoor, Devon

The Pennines, known as the backbone of England, is the oldest mountain range in the country, originating from the end of the Paleozoic Era around 300 million years ago. The total length of the Pennines is 400 kilometres (250 mi), peaking at Cross Fell in Cumbria.The material of which they are composed is mostly sandstone and limestone, but also coal. There are karst landscapes in calcite areas such as parts of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The Pennine landscape is high moorland in upland areas, indented by fertile valleys of the region's rivers. They contain three national parks, the Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland, and the Peak District. The highest point in England, at 978 metres (3,210 ft), is Scafell Pike in Cumbria. Straddling the border between England and Scotland are the Cheviot Hills. The English Lowlands are to the south of the Pennines, consisting of green rolling hills, including the Cotswold Hills, Chiltern Hills, North and South Downs—where they meet the sea they form white rock exposures such as the cliffs of Dover. The granitic Southwest Peninsula in the West Country provides upland moorland, such as Dartmoor and Exmoor, which flourish with a mild climate; both are national parks.


England has a temperate maritime climate meaning that it is mild with temperatures not much lower than 0 °C (32 °F) in winter and not much higher than 32 °C (90 °F) in summer. The weather is damp relatively frequently and is subject to change. The coldest months are January and February, the latter particularly on the English coast, while July is normally the warmest month. Months with mild to warm weather with least rainfall are May, June, September and October. The biggest influences on the climate of England comes from the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, its northern latitude and warming of the waters around the Gulf Stream. England receives quite a significant proportion of rainfall during the year, with autumn and winter being the wettest time—geographically the Lake District receives more rain than anywhere else in the country. Since weather recording records began, the highest temperature received was 38.5 °C (101.3 °F) on 10 August 2003 at Brogdale in Kent, while the lowest was −26.1 °C (−15 °F) on 10 January 1982 in Edgmond, Shropshire.

[hide]Weather data for England
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7
Average low °C (°F) 1
Precipitation mm (inches) 84
Source: Met Office[102] 19 February 2008

Major conurbations

The Greater London Urban Area is by far the largest metropolitan area in England and one of the busiest cities in the world. It is considered a global city and has a population larger than other countries in the United Kingdom besides England itself. Other urban areas of considerable size and influence tend to be in northern England or the English Midlands. There are fifty settlements which have been designated city status in England, while the wider United Kingdom has sixty-six. While many cities in England are quite large in size, such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Bradford, Nottingham and others, a large population is not necessarily a prerequisite for a settlement to be afforded city status.[104] Traditionally the status was afforded to towns with diocesan cathedrals and so there are smaller cities like Wells, Ely, Ripon, Truro and Chichester. According to the Office for National Statistics the ten largest, continuous built-up urban areas


England's economy is one of the largest in in the world, with an average GDP per capita of £22,907. Usually regarded as a mixed market economy, it has adopted many free market principles in contrast to the Rhine Capitalism of Europe, yet maintains an advanced social welfare infrastructure.[109] The official currency in England is the pound sterling, also known as the GBP. Taxation in England is quite competitive when compared to much of the rest of Europe—as of 2009 the basic rate of personal tax is 20% on taxable income up to £37,400, and 40% on any additional earnings above that amount. The economy of England is the largest part of the UK's economy,[108] which has the 18th highest GDP PPP per capita in the world. England is a leader in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors and in key technical industries, particularly aerospace, the arms industry, and the manufacturing side of the software industry. London, home to the London Stock Exchange, the UK's main stock exchange and the largest in Europe, is England's financial centre—100 of Europe's 500 largest corporations are based in London. London is the largest financial centre in Europe, and as of 2009 is also the largest in the world.

A silver coloured car.

Aston Martin is a well known English automobile company.

The Bank of England, founded in 1694 by Scottish banker William Paterson, is the UK's central bank. Originally instituted to act as private banker to the Government of England, it carried on in this role as part of the United Kingdom—since 1946 it has been a state-owned institution. The Bank has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales, although not in other parts of the United Kingdom. Its Monetary Policy Committee has devolved responsibility for managing the monetary policy of the country and setting interest rates. England is highly industrialised, but since the 1970s there has been a decline in traditional heavy and manufacturing industries, and an increasing emphasis on a more service industry oriented economy.Tourism has become a significant industry, attracting millions of visitors to England each year. The export part of the economy is dominated by pharmaceuticals, automobiles—although many English marques are now foreign-owned, such as Rolls-Royce, Lotus, Jaguar and Bentley—crude oil and petroleum from the English parts of North Sea Oil along with Wytch Farm, aircraft engines and alcoholic beverages. Agriculture is intensive and highly mechanised, producing 60% of food needs with only 2% of the labour force. Two thirds of production is devoted to livestock, the other to arable crops.


Red two-storey vehicle with windows on each level.

Red double-decker bus in London

The Department for Transport is the government body responsible for overseeing transport in England. There are several motorways in England, one of the most important trunk roads is the A1 Great North Road, stretching across the country from London to Newcastle. The longest motorway in England is the M6, stretching from Rugby to the North West up to the Anglo-Scottish border.[118] There are other major roads; the M1 from London to Leeds, the M25 which encircles London, the M60 which encircles Manchester, the M4 from London to South Wales, the M62 from Liverpool to Manchester and East Yorkshire and the M5 from Birmingham to Bristol and the South West. Bus transport across the country is common, major companies include National Express, Arriva and Go-Ahead Group. The red double-decker buses in London have become a symbol of England. There is a rapid rail network in two English cities; the London Underground and the Tyne and Wear Metro, the latter in Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland. There are tram networks, such as; Blackpool, Manchester Metrolink, Sheffield Supertram and Midland Metro.

Light from sunset reflected over buildings and gray concrete.

London Heathrow Airport has more international passenger traffic than any other airport in the world.

Rail transport in England is the oldest in the world, with the system originating there in 1825. Much of Britain's 16,116 kilometres (10,014 mi) of rail network lies in England, covering the country extensively. These lines are mostly single, double or quadruple track, though there are narrow gauge lines. There is rail transport access to France and Belgium through an undersea rail link, the Channel Tunnel which was completed in 1994. There are air transport facilities in England connected the public to numerous international locations, the largest airport is London Heathrow Airport which in terms of passenger volume in the busiest in Europe and one of busiest in the world. Other large airports include Manchester Airport, London Stansted Airport, Luton Airport and Birmingham International Airport. By sea there is ferry transport, both for internal and external trips, some of the most common links are to Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Travel by waterways such as rivers, canals, docks is common with around 7,100 km (4,400 mi) of navigable waterways in England, half of which is owned by British Waterways. The Thames is the major waterway in England, with imports and exports focused at the Port of Tilbury, one of the UK's three major ports.

Red brick building partially obscured by trees.
Local NHS surgeries, such as this facility in Dorchester, Dorset, are available throughout England.

The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded healthcare system in England responsible for providing the majority of healthcare in the country. The NHS began on 5 July 1948, putting into effect the provisions of the National Health Service Act 1946. It was based on the findings of the Beveridge Report, prepared by economist and social reformer William Beveridge. The NHS is largely funded from general taxation including National Insurance payments, it provides most services at no additional cost though there are extra charges associated with eye tests, dental care, prescriptions and aspects of personal care. The government department responsible for the NHS is the Department of Health, headed by the Secretary of State for Health, who sits in the British Cabinet. Most of the expenditure of the Department of Health is spent on the NHS—£98.6 billion was spent in 2008-2009. In recent years the private sector has been increasingly used to provide more NHS services despite opposition by doctors and trade unions. The average life expectancy of people in England is 77.5 years for males and 81.7 years for females, the highest of the four countries of the United Kingdom.



Map of England with regions shaded in different shades of blue.

Population of English ceremonial counties

With over 51 million inhabitants, England is the most populous country of the United Kingdom, accounting for 84% of the combined total.[130] England taken as a unit and measured against international states has the fourth largest population in the European Union and would be the 25th largest country by population in the world.[131] With a density of 395 people per square kilometre, it would be the second most densely populated country in the European Union after Malta. The English people are a British people[3]—genetic evidence suggests that 75–95% descend in the paternal line from prehistoric settlers who originally came from the Iberian Peninsula. There is a significant Norse element, as well as a 5% contribution from Angles and Saxons, though other geneticists place the Norse-Germanic estimate up to half. Over time various cultures have been influential—Prehistoric, Brythonic,[139] Roman, Anglo-Saxon,[140] Norse Viking,[141] Gaelic cultures, as well as a large influence from Normans. There is an English diaspora in former parts of the British Empire; especially the United States, Canada, Australia, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand. Since the late 1990s, English people have migrated to Spain

Pie chart with main body in blue and multiple smaller segments in other colours.

2005 estimates of ethnic groups in England

At the time of the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086, more than 90% of the English population of about two million lived in the countryside. By 1801 the population had grown to 8.3 million, and by 1901 had grown to 30.5 million. Due to the economic prosperity in South East England there are many economic migrants from the other parts of the United Kingdom.[3] There has been significant Irish migration, with 25% of English people having Irish ancestry. The European population totals at 89.90%, including Germans andOther people from much further afield in the former British colonies have arrived since the 1950s—5.30% of people living in England have migrated from the Indian subcontinent, mostly India and Pakistan. 2.30% of the population are black, mostly from the Caribbean.[3][150] There is a significant number of Chinese and British Chinese. As of 2007, 22% of primary school children in England were from ethnic minority families. About half of the population increase between 1991–2001 was due to foreign-born immigration.Debate over immigration is politically prominent,according to a Home Office poll 80% of people want to cap it. The ONS has projected that the population will grow by six million between 2004 and 2029.


Map of the world with the United Kingdom, Australia and North America shown in dark blue, with areas of Africa and Asia in light blue.

Distribution of the English language

As its name suggests, the English language, today spoken by hundreds of millions of people around the world, originated as the language of England, where it remains the principal tongue today. An Indo-European language in the Anglo-Frisian branch of the Germanic family, it is closely related to Scots. After the Norman conquest, the Old English language was displaced and confined to the lower social classes as Norman French and Latin were used by the aristocracy. By the 17th century, English came back into fashion among all classes, though much changed; the Middle English form showed many signs of French influence, both in vocabulary and spelling. During the English Renaissance, many words were coined from Latin and Greek origins. Modern English has extended this custom of flexibility, when it comes to incorporating words from different languages. Thanks in large part to the British Empire, the English language is the world's unofficial lingua franca.

English language learning and teaching is an important economic activity, and includes language schooling, tourism spending, and publishing. There is no legislation mandating an official language for England,[160] but English is the only language used for official business. Despite the country's relatively small size, there are many distinct regional accents, and individuals with particularly strong accents may not be easily understood everywhere in the country. Cornish, which died out as a community language in the 18th century, is being revived,[161][162][163][164] and is now protected under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[165] It is spoken by 0.1% of people in Cornwall, and is taught to some degree in several primary and secondary schools.State schools teach students a second language, usually French, German or Spanish. Due to immigration, it was reported in 2007 that around 800,000 school students spoke a foreign language at home, the most common being Punjabi and Urdu.