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Summary: Located in Western Europe, the United Kingdom, or UK, which also includes the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland, is located between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, northwest of France. Mostly rugged hills and low mountains, and level to rolling plains in the east and southeast, the British Empire controlled a quarter of the planet's surface at its peak in the late 19th century, the UK is still a leading trading power and financial centre.

Capital: London
Time Zone: DST +0100 UTC
Transportation: London, England is home to the world's busiest airport, Heathrow, with almost 100 airlines carrying 65 million travellers annually and climbing, which is also the second biggest cargo port. Trains also interconnect many parts of England and the rest of the UK with mainland Europe.
Population: 60,270,708
Languages: English, Welsh, Scottish form of Gaelic
Power: 230 V, 50 Hz
Currency: British Pound - Currently 1 GBP £ = 2.0228 USD $
Climate: The UK has a moderate to temperate climate moderated by the ocean currents. More than half of the days are overcast, however, winters tend to not be quite as bitter as some parts of Europe.


London: Legend has London founded in 1100 BC, after the fall of Troy, and taking the name Troynovant, or New Troy. London is the home of living history, including the river Thames, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and St. Paul's Cathedral. Be sure to see the Tower of London, of which construction began in the late 11th century and now serves partially as the home of the Crown Jewels (and is one of the most famous buildings in the world).

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Stonehenge: Although it has become a more commercialized venue in the past dozen years or so, it is still a location that inspires an international mystique. This double ring of mammoth 50-ton stones have been in place for more than 5,000 years and the best guess is that they are an ancient calendar system tied to the stars. Park across the street and you can pick up a few souvenirs before crossing under the roadway to visit the fenced area. The location of the stones in the countryside makes the trip here worthwhile as you enjoy some of the backyard of England along the way.

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Scotland: Scotland features the famous highlands and lowlands of kilted history, not to mention some great golf. Visit a few castles on the 45 mile drive between Edinburgh, with the excellent Royal Museum of Scotland and Edinburgh Castle, and Glasgow, with the museum-caliber Burrell Collection and gothic Glasgow Cathedral, and get a glance over Loch Ness and say hi to Nessie (the fabled and elusive Loch Ness monster) then head 60 miles east to the coast to Aberdeen to enjoy the museums, culture and granite buildings of Aberdeen.

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Northern Ireland: Visit Belfast, with a great waterfront, Botanic Gardens and architecture of the Cathedral Quarter, all surrounded by pristine green hills, and see the Kingdoms of Down where you can enjoy the Mountains of Mourne, Strangford Lough, fishing villages, gardens, and historic houses. More than 80 miles northwest of Belfast, Diamond Square in Derry is said to be one of the prime spots to see the old walled center and witness the Northern Ireland spirit.

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Wales: The home of moors and traditional Welsh living and language, Wales is a great getaway. Between the capital Cardiff in the southeast, where sports are played near Victorian castles, Saint David's in the far west, where the cathedral holds the remains of the famous saint, and Conwy and Llandudno in the far north, where castles sit next to seaside resorts, visitors also find the national parks excellent, with the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia National Parks both cut by mountain ranges.

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Canterbury: Home to the seat of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church, Canterbury's most famous landmark is Canterbury Cathedral, established in 597 AD and a historical site of pilgrimages that date back to medieval days. Other sites include the Museum of Canterbury, the Roman Museum, and the charming city center which is closed to traffic during the day. Only 16 miles away, visit the famous white cliffs of Dover against the English Channel.

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Hadrian's Wall: The northern region of England which neighbours Scotland is rich in both history and beauty. The most famous landmark is Hadrian's Wall, the border of the Roman Empire built by the Emperor Hadrian in 122 AD which stretched at its peak 73 miles and most of which still stands with ruined milecastles and forts, but other sights attract including the Norman cathedral in Durham in the east, the relaxing Lake District in the west and the gothic walled city of York 60 miles south of Durham.

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Oxford: Famous in part because of its namesake university, Oxford is a city with an array of historical sights and buildings. Outside the stone arches and open courtyards of Oxford University, sights include the gardens of Christ Church, the 11th century Saxon Tower and the art and artefacts of the Ashmolean Museum. Cycling to see the limestone cliffs of the Cotswolds or the hills of Shropshire to the north is a great way to spend a full day enjoying the countryside if you have strong legs.


Bed and Breakfast: You will spend less compared to a hotel, and enjoy some fine home cooked meals, by staying with a less conventional B&B. An advantage is that they are normally located in neighbourhoods with easy access to local pubs and taverns to really taste the local brews.

Shopping: In London, Oxford Street and the Knightsbridge district (home of Harrod's) are premiere sources for shopping. The city is full of shops, boutiques, street markets, pubs and eateries, so you can spend a day window shopping, and then sit down for nice local meal.

Consider the Eurostar: The Eurostar is a high-speed train that connects London with France and Belgium and offers passage through the Chunnel, the underground/undersea tunnel that connects England with France. You will see the countryside sweep by, while enjoying a short day trip over into the heart of Europe. Expect to pay around 200 pounds depending on class and time of year.

When To Visit: Any time of year will give you a good taste for the country, with the summer months from April to September the best time to visit the countryside. Remember to bundle up from November to February, as although London during Christmas is quite nice, it can be chilly.

Food: England is well known for its fish and chips. Other common dishes include roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and bangers and mash, sausages with mashed potatoes. Tea and beer are the two most commonly available drinks, although anything is available in the variety of restaurants.

Phrases: Pint of bitter, for a good beer.

Tipping: Check your receipt, however tipping following the standard of 15% for good service is appropriate.




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