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About Great Britain

Introduction

At one stage of its history, this small island ruled half of the world's population and had a major impact on many of the rest. Britain remains one of the most beautiful islands in the world. In terms of area it is small but the more you explore, the bigger it seems to become. The United Kingdom is made up of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland. Its full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Location

The United Kingdom lies off the West Coast of mainland Europe, to the east is the North Sea, to the south the English Channel and to the West, the Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

Geography

The British landscape can be divided roughly into two kinds of terrain – highland and lowland. The highland areas comprise of the mountainous regions of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Northern England and North Wales. The lowland area is broken up by sandstone and limestone hills and long valleys and basins.

Climate

Anyone who spends any extended period of time in Britain will soon sympathise with the locals' conversational obsession with the weather! Although, in relative terms, the climate is mild and the rainfall not spectacular, settled periods of weather – sunny or otherwise – are rare and rain is likely at any time.

To enjoy Britain it helps to convince yourself that you like rain – after all, that's what makes it so incredibly green! Waterproof clothing is required throughout the year. Warm clothing is advisable at all times and is essential for any visits to the highlands.

Language

The official language is English, Welsh is widely spoken in Wales and Gaelic in the highlands of Scotland. The many ethnic minorities within the UK also speak their own dialects and languages.

Passports and Visas

The most important travel document is your passport which should remain valid until at least 6 months after your trip. A visa is a stamp in your passport permitting you to enter a country for a specified period. Please check if you need a visa by contacting the British Embassy or Consulate in your own country.

Vaccinations

No vaccinations are required. There are full reciprocal health agreements with most other European countries,which allow free hospital in-patient treatment to those presenting an EU passport and a European Health Insurance card. Volunteers from outside the EU should have their own medical insurance.

Currency

The UK currency is pounds and pence sterling (£). Money is divided into notes and coins – the notes are: £50 £20 £10 £5 and coins: £1, 50p, 20p 10p 5p 2p 1p.

Money Exchange

Money can be changed at any bank, exchange bureaux, post office and many hotels. Credit cards are widely accepted.

Electricity

240 V, AC 50Hz, square 3 pin plugs are standard.

Internet Resources

Official website of the English tourist board

Britain travel and tourist guide

Visit London website

UK government website

About Epping Forest

Visit Southampton website

BBC TV / Radio web site

Maps of the UK

A guide to the history and travelling the UK

Train travel in the UK

Netley Abbey

Visit Southport website

Long distance bus travel in the UK

Lonely Planet guide to England

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