The United Kingdom, or the UK, consists of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. It is a country off the northwest coast of mainland Europe. Since it’s an island, the United Kingdom has the third largest coastline in Europe at 12,430 kilometers long!
The United Kingdom is known for London, England’s capital (and a key financial hub), its royal family, plus its contribution to world culture. Many celebrities come from the UK, and it has played a large role in the music world. It has wonderful national parks and heritage sites as well as buzzing cities.
The Royal Family
The Royal Family spans back almost 1200 years and all monarchs are descended from King Alfred The Great.
The Queen (Queen Elizabeth II) spends most of her time in Buckingham Palace in London, and if the Royal Standard flag is flown, you know she is home. Otherwise, the Queen spends most of her time in Windsor Castle.
The castle is a fortress that has housed royalty for over 1000 years! It even withstood a two-month siege in the 1200s.
London is the capital of England and the UK’s most famous city! It has some of the most iconic monuments in the world, including Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and the London Eye.
It’s one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and over one-third of its residents were born outside of the UK!
The city is full of history whilst also having a place in the modern world, due to it being a financial hub. It is also a foodie’s paradise, with markets, fine dining, and quirky cafe culture.
Nothing screams “the UK” more than afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is a meal made up of sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, pastries, and a cup of tea.
This tradition started in the 1800s when a friend of Queen Victoria wanted something light to eat between lunch and dinner. From this, the ritual was born, and wealthy people all over the UK started eating afternoon tea!
Nowadays while British people still LOVE a cup of tea, afternoon tea is eaten at cafes and restaurants.
The Loch Ness Monster
The Loch Ness Monster (A.K.A Nessie) is a marine monster rumored to live in Loch Ness in Scotland.
Worldwide, people have heard of this myth, and over the years “evidence” has cropped up supporting its existence! Of course, this evidence has been disproven, but many still believe in the monster.
The first written account of the Loch Ness Monster dates back as far as 565 AD in a biography. But, it wasn’t until 1933 that the legend really began to grow!
Football (also known as soccer) is one of the most popular sports in the UK. The oldest professional football club in the world, Sheffield FC, was founded in 1857 and still exists today!
Football is a national sport in England, with over 40,000 registered football clubs in the country. Some of the most popular clubs are Arsenal, Manchester City, and Manchester United.
David Beckham, a world-famous football player, is British and used to play for Manchester United.
We’re all familiar with Shakespeare. The British playwright, poet, and actor was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in England!
Over his lifetime he wrote 37 plays. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth are just a few of his well-known works.
Shakespeare performed his plays at the Globe, a large open-air theater in London. But, in 1613, tragedy struck when the theater caught on fire during Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. It was rebuilt only a year later but closed in 1642.
The Beatles are one of the UK’s most famous rock bands. They are considered the most influential bands of all time and formed in 1960 in Liverpool! Some of their top hits are Strawberry Fields Forever, Hey Jude, and Let It Be.
The Beatles normalized album art, and people worldwide flock to London to recreate the album cover of Abbey Road.
All over the UK, there are homages to the band including the Beatles Museum in Liverpool, Hard Day’s Night Hotel (a Beatles themed hotel), and the Cavern Club, where the Beatles were first “discovered”.
It’s no secret that the British love a good pub. There are approximately 46,800 pubs in the UK.
Ye Old Fighting Cocks in St. Albans holds the title of the world’s oldest pub, dating back to the 8th century. The most popular drinks in a pub are cider and lager, usually served in a pint or a half-pint glass!
Many Brits enjoy a pub lunch on the weekend, and pub food consists of hearty, home-cooked meals.
The Wimbledon Championship is one of the four major Grand Slam tennis tournaments. It is the only one of the four that is played on a traditional grass court.
It started in 1877, making it the oldest tennis tournament in the world. The tournament begins either on the last Monday in June or the first Monday in July every year. Watching the games is a fun summer past-time for many Brits and people love the chance to watch the games live.
Eating strawberries and cream is a Wimbledon tradition. An estimated 10,000 liters of cream and 28,000 kg of strawberries are eaten every year over the tournament!
There’s just something about Stonehenge. It has GOT to be the world’s most famous prehistoric monument, and you’ll find it in Wiltshire, England!
The site itself is bigger than you think, covering an area of 6,500 acres. It includes more than the iconic stone circle, there are neolithic houses and a museum too. On average, each stone (or sarsen) weighs 25 tons and the tallest stone is 8.71 meters high!
Scholars believe that Stonehenge was a burial site, but many also think it had other uses. It could have been a pilgrimage destination, ceremonial site, or a final resting place for royals.
Today it still captivates the nation, and there are around one or two proposals there each month!
It’s no secret that British people like to talk (read: complain) about the weather. Because of this, many people think that the UK is one of the rainiest places in the world… but it isn’t! In 2020, there were only approximately 170.5 days where more than 1mm of rain fell.
The weather varies depending on where you are, with England being the driest UK Country, and Scotland the wettest.
Still, in 2008 the UK ranked 70th out of 169 countries for rainfall. So, despite what people think, the weather isn’t that bad!
Fish and Chips
Brits love good old fish and chips and many people know the UK for this delicious dish! Fish and chips are made up of fish in a fried batter, served with thick-cut chips.
The first-ever fish and chip shop is believed to have opened in Lancashire in 1863. However, some argue that the first shop was opened in London by a Jewish immigrant in the 1860s.
It was one of the few foods not to be rationed during World War II, and if you head to the UK today, you’re likely to find a fish and chip shop in every town.
The Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway is in Northern Ireland. It is a World Heritage Site, and many people visit it to take in its beauty. There are roughly 40,000 interlocking columns at the site, caused by a volcanic eruption.
Part of the legend surrounding the causeway is that it was home to a giant called Finn McCool. When another giant from across the sea in Scotland threatened Ireland, Finn threw boulders into the sea in anger.
From this, he got the idea to build a causeway. He built the causeway to Scotland so he could challenge the other giant (Bennandonnar) to a duel!
Thousands of people head to the UK every year to attend Glastonbury. It is more than your average music festival, with a range of music genres, comedy acts, and other performances.
The festival is the biggest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world. It takes place during the summer, at Worthy Farm, Somerset. It can get more than a bit muddy, but that doesn’t stop festival-goers from having lots of fun!
Some of its biggest headliners have been The Smiths, Dolly Parton, Metallica, and Beyonce.
We couldn’t NOT mention Harry Potter now, could we? There are several filming locations in the UK and several iconic locations from the book.
There’s Platform 9 and 3/4s in King’s Cross Station, Alnwick Castle, and Oxford University! The UK also has the Harry Potter Studio Tour, a museum with sets and props from the movie.
Brits love Harry Potter so much, there’s even Harry Potter themed afternoon tea in London!
Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia is on Britain’s west coast and is the largest national park in Wales at 2,130 square kilometers. Every year Snowdonia National Park has around 10 million visitors.
It has mountains, castles, a beautiful coastline, and many trails. It contains Snowdon mountain, which is the highest mountain in Wales and England, standing at 1,085 meters above sea level!