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Country in north-west Europe; part of the United Kingdom
The area now called England was first inhabited by modern humans during the Upper Paleolithic period, but takes its name from the Angles, a Germanic tribe deriving its name from the Anglia peninsula, who settled during the 5th and 6th centuries. England became a unified state in the 10th century and has had a significant cultural and legal impact on the wider world since the Age of Discovery, which began during the 15th century. 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 its society into the world's first industrialised nation.
England's terrain is chiefly low hills and plains, especially in central and southern England. However, there is upland and mountainous terrain in the north (for example, the Lake District and Pennines) and in the west (for example, Dartmoor and the Shropshire Hills). The capital is London, which has the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom. England's population of 56.3 million comprises 84% of the population of the United Kingdom, largely concentrated around London, the South East, and conurbations in the Midlands, the North West, the North East, and Yorkshire, which each developed as major industrial regions during the 19th century.
The earliest attested reference to the Angles 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. How and why a term derived from the name of a tribe that was less significant than others, such as the Saxons, came to be used for the entire country and its people is not known, but it seems this is related to the custom of calling the Germanic people in Britain Angli Saxones or English Saxons to distinguish them from continental Saxons (Eald-Seaxe) of Old Saxony between the Weser and Eider rivers in Northern Germany. In Scottish Gaelic, another language which developed on the island of Great Britain, the Saxon tribe gave their name to the word for England (Sasunn); similarly, the Welsh name for the English language is "Saesneg". A romantic name for England is Loegria, related to the Welsh word for England, Lloegr, and made popular by its use in Arthurian legend. Albion is also applied to England in a more poetic capacity, though its original meaning is the island of Britain as a whole.
The earliest known evidence of human presence in the area now known as England was that of Homo antecessor, dating to approximately 780,000 years ago. The oldest proto-human bones discovered in England date from 500,000 years ago. Modern humans are known to have inhabited the area during the Upper Paleolithic period, though permanent settlements were only established within the last 6,000 years.
After the last ice age 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 the present day and Britain was connected by land bridge to Ireland and Eurasia.
As the seas rose, it was separated from Ireland 10,000 years ago and from Eurasia two millennia later.
The Beaker culture arrived around 2,500 BC, introducing drinking and food vessels constructed from clay, as well as vessels used as reduction pots to smelt copper ores. It was during this time that major Neolithic monuments such as Stonehenge and Avebury were constructed. By heating together tin and copper, which were in abundance in the area, the Beaker culture people made bronze, and later iron from iron ores. 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.
There is debate about when Christianity was first introduced; it was no later than the 4th century, probably much earlier. According to Bede, missionaries were sent from Rome by Eleutherius at the request of the chieftain Lucius of Britain in 180 AD, to settle differences as to Eastern and Western ceremonials, which were disturbing the church. There are traditions linked to Glastonbury claiming an introduction through Joseph of Arimathea, while others claim through Lucius of Britain. By 410, during the Decline of the Roman Empire, Britain was left exposed by the end of Roman rule in Britain and the withdrawal of Roman army units, to defend the frontiers in continental Europe and partake in civil wars. Celtic Christian monastic and missionary movements flourished: Patrick (5th-century Ireland) and in the 6th century Brendan (Clonfert), Comgall (Bangor), David (Wales), Aiden (Lindisfarne) and Columba (Iona). This period of Christianity was influenced by ancient Celtic culture in its sensibilities, polity, practices and theology. Local "congregations" were centred in the monastic community and monastic leaders were more like chieftains, as peers, rather than in the more hierarchical system of the Roman-dominated church.
Roman military withdrawals left Britain open to invasion by pagan, seafaring warriors from north-western continental Europe, chiefly the Saxons, Angles, Jutes and Frisians who had long raided the coasts of the Roman province. These groups then began to settle in increasing numbers over the course of the fifth and sixth centuries, initially in the eastern part of the country. Their advance was contained for some decades after the Britons' victory at the Battle of Mount Badon, but subsequently resumed, overrunning the fertile lowlands of Britain and reducing the area under Brittonic control to a series of separate enclaves in the more rugged country to the west by the end of the 6th century. Contemporary texts describing this period are extremely scarce, giving rise to its description as a Dark Age. The nature and progression of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain is consequently subject to considerable disagreement; the emerging consensus is that it occurred on a large scale in the south and east but was less substantial to the north and west, where Celtic languages continued to be spoken even in areas under Anglo-Saxon control. Roman-dominated Christianity had, in general, been replaced in the conquered territories by Anglo-Saxon paganism, but was reintroduced by missionaries from Rome led by Augustine from 597 onwards. Disputes between the Roman- and Celtic-dominated forms of Christianity ended in victory for the Roman tradition at the Council of Whitby (664), which was ostensibly about tonsures (clerical haircuts) and the date of Easter, but more significantly, about the differences in Roman and Celtic forms of authority, theology, and practice.
During the settlement period the lands ruled by the incomers seem to have been fragmented into numerous tribal territories, but by the 7th century, when substantial evidence of the situation again becomes available, these had coalesced into roughly a dozen kingdoms including Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, East Anglia, Essex, Kent and Sussex. Over the following centuries, this process of political consolidation continued. The 7th century saw a struggle for hegemony between Northumbria and Mercia, which in the 8th century gave way to Mercian preeminence.In the early 9th century Mercia was displaced as the foremost kingdom by Wessex. Later in that century escalating attacks by the Danes culminated in the conquest of the north and east of England, overthrowing the kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia. Wessex under Alfred the Great was left as the only surviving English kingdom, and under his successors, it steadily expanded at the expense of the kingdoms of the Danelaw. This brought about the political unification of England, first accomplished under Æthelstan in 927 and definitively established after further conflicts by Eadred in 953. A fresh wave of Scandinavian attacks from the late 10th century ended with the conquest of this united kingdom by Sweyn Forkbeard in 1013 and again by his son Cnut in 1016, turning it into the centre of a short-lived North Sea Empire that also included Denmark and Norway. However, the native royal dynasty was restored with the accession of Edward the Confessor in 1042.
A dispute over the succession to Edward led to the Norman Conquest in 1066, accomplished by an army led by Duke William of Normandy. The Normans themselves originated from Scandinavia and had settled in Normandy in the late 9th and early 10th centuries. This conquest led to the almost total dispossession of the English elite and its replacement by a new French-speaking aristocracy, whose speech had a profound and permanent effect on the English language.
Subsequently, 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, some noted monarchs being Richard I, Edward I, Edward III and Henry V. The period saw changes in trade and legislation, including the signing of the Magna Carta, an English legal charter used to limit the sovereign's powers by law and protect the privileges of freemen. 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 given to the English monarchy by the Pope.
During the Tudor period, the Renaissance reached England through Italian courtiers, who reintroduced artistic, educational and scholarly debate from classical antiquity. England began to develop naval skills, and exploration to the West intensified.Henry VIII broke from communion with the Catholic Church, over issues relating to his divorce, under the Acts of Supremacy in 1534 which proclaimed the monarch head of the Church of England. In contrast with much of European Protestantism, the roots of the split were more political than theological. He 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 took the country back to Catholicism while the latter broke from it again, forcefully asserting the supremacy of Anglicanism. The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor age of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I ("the Virgin Queen"). Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history. Elizabethan England represented the apogee of the English Renaissance and saw the flowering of art, poetry, music and literature. The era is most famous for its drama, theatre and playwrights. England during this period had a centralised, well-organised, and effective government as a result of vast Tudor reforms.
Competing with Spain, the first English colony in the Americas was founded in 1585 by explorer Walter Raleigh in Virginia and named Roanoke. The Roanoke colony failed and is known as the lost colony after it was found abandoned on the return of the late-arriving supply ship. With the East India Company, England also competed with the Dutch and French in the East. During the Elizabethan period, England was at war with Spain. An armada sailed from Spain in 1588 as part of a wider plan to invade England and re-establish a Catholic monarchy. The plan was thwarted by bad coordination, stormy weather and successful harrying attacks by an English fleet under Lord Howard of Effingham. This failure did not end the threat: Spain launched two further armadas, in 1596 and 1597, but both were driven back by storms. The political structure of the island changed in 1603, when the King of Scots, James VI, a kingdom which had been a long-time rival to English interests, inherited the throne of England as James I, thereby creating a personal union. He styled himself King of Great Britain, although this had no basis in English law. Under the auspices of King James VI and I the Authorised King James Version of the Holy Bible was published in 1611. It was the standard version of the Bible read by most Protestant Christians for four hundred years until modern revisions were produced in the 20th century.
Based on conflicting political, religious and social positions, the English Civil War was fought between the supporters of Parliament and those of King Charles I, known colloquially as Roundheads and Cavaliers respectively. This was an interwoven part of the wider multifaceted Wars of the Three Kingdoms, involving Scotland and Ireland. The Parliamentarians were victorious, Charles I was executed and the kingdom replaced by the Commonwealth. Leader of the Parliament forces, Oliver Cromwell declared himself Lord Protector in 1653; a period of personal rule followed. After Cromwell's death and the resignation of his son Richard as Lord Protector, Charles II was invited to return as monarch in 1660, in a move called the Restoration. With the reopening of theatres, fine arts, literature and performing arts flourished throughout the Restoration of ''the Merry Monarch'' Charles II. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, it was constitutionally established that King and Parliament should rule together, though Parliament would have the real power. This was established with the Bill of Rights in 1689. Among the statutes set down were that the law could only be made by Parliament and could not be suspended by the King, also that the King could not impose taxes or raise an army without the prior approval of Parliament. Also since that time, no British monarch has entered the House of Commons when it is sitting, which is annually commemorated at the State Opening of Parliament by the British monarch when the doors of the House of Commons are slammed in the face of the monarch's messenger, symbolising the rights of Parliament and its independence from the monarch. With the founding of the Royal Society in 1660, science was greatly encouraged.
In 1666 the Great Fire of London gutted the City of London but it was rebuilt shortly afterwards with many significant buildings designed by Christopher Wren. In Parliament two factions had emerged – the Tories and Whigs. Though the Tories initially supported Catholic king James II, some of them, along with the Whigs, during the Revolution of 1688 invited Dutch prince William of Orange to defeat James and ultimately to become William III of England. Some English people, especially in the north, were Jacobites and continued to support James and his sons. Under the Stuart dynasty England expanded in trade, finance and prosperity. Britain developed Europe's largest merchant fleet. After the parliaments of England and Scotland agreed, the two countries joined in political union, to create the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. To accommodate the union, institutions such as the law and national churches of each remained separate.
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 Birmingham and Manchester, dubbed "Workshop of the World" and "Warehouse City" respectively. Manchester was the world's first industrial city. England maintained relative stability throughout the French Revolution; William Pitt the Younger was British Prime Minister for the reign of George III. The Regency of George IV is noted for its elegance and achievements in the fine arts and architecture. During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon 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 major victory at the Battle of Trafalgar confirmed the naval supremacy Britain had established during the course of the eighteenth century. The Napoleonic Wars fostered a concept of Britishness and a united national British people, shared with the English, Scots and Welsh.
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. Technologically, this era saw many innovations that proved key to the United Kingdom's power and prosperity. Political agitation at home from radicals such as the Chartists and the suffragettes enabled legislative reform and universal suffrage.Samuel Hynes described the Edwardian era as a "leisurely time when women wore picture hats and did not vote, when the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, and the sun really never set on the British flag."
Power shifts in east-central Europe led to World War I; hundreds of thousands of English soldiers died fighting for the United Kingdom as part of the Allies. Two decades later, in World War II, the United Kingdom was again one of the Allies. At the end of the Phoney War, Winston Churchill became 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, and there was a speeding-up of technological innovations; automobiles became the primary means of transport and Frank Whittle's development of the jet engine led to wider air travel. Residential patterns were altered in England by private motoring, and by the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948. The UK's NHS provided publicly funded health care to all UK permanent residents free at the point of need, being paid for from general taxation. Combined, these prompted the reform of local government in England in the mid-20th century.
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 following the proposal's rejection by the North East in a 2004 referendum, this has not been carried out.
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 affects England to English MPs.
The English law legal system, developed over the centuries, is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States (except Louisiana). Despite now being part of the United Kingdom, the legal system of the Courts of England and Wales continued, under the Treaty of Union, as a separate legal system from the one used in Scotland. The general essence of English law is that it is made by judges sitting in courts, applying their common sense and knowledge of legal precedent – stare decisis – to the facts before them.
Geographically England includes 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 other countries of the United Kingdom: to the north by Scotland and to the west by Wales. England is closer than any other part of mainland Britain to the European continent. It is separated from France (Hauts-de-France) by a 21-mile (34 km) sea gap, though the two countries are connected by the Channel Tunnel near Folkestone. England also has shores on the Irish Sea, North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
The ports of London, Liverpool, and Newcastle lie on the tidal rivers Thames, Mersey and Tyne respectively. At 220 miles (350 km), the Severn is the longest river flowing through England. It empties into the Bristol Channel and is notable for its Severn Bore (a tidal bore), which can reach 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height. However, the longest river entirely in England is the Thames, which is 215 miles (346 km) in length.
There are many lakes in England; the largest is Windermere, within the aptly named Lake District. Most of England's landscape consists of low hills and plains, with upland and mountainous terrain in the north and west of the country. The northern uplands include the Pennines, a chain of uplands dividing east and west, the Lake District mountains in Cumbria, and the Cheviot Hills, straddling the border between England and Scotland. The highest point in England, at 978 metres (3,209 ft), is Scafell Pike in the Lake District. The Shropshire Hills are near Wales while Dartmoor and Exmoor are two upland areas in the south-west of the country. The approximate dividing line between terrain types is often indicated by the Tees-Exe line.
In geological terms, the Pennines, known as the "backbone of England", are the oldest range of mountains in the country, originating from the end of the Paleozoic Era around 300 million years ago. Their geological composition includes, among others, sandstone and limestone, and 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 two national parks, the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District. In the West Country, Dartmoor and Exmoor of the Southwest Peninsula include upland moorland supported by granite, and enjoy a mild climate; both are national parks.
England has a temperatemaritime climate: 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 changeable. 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 are May, June, September and October. Rainfall is spread fairly evenly throughout the year.
Important influences on the climate of England are its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, its northern latitude and the warming of the sea by the Gulf Stream. Rainfall is higher in the west, and parts of the Lake District receive more rain than anywhere else in the country. Since weather records began, the highest temperature recorded was 38.7 °C (101.7 °F) on 25 July 2019 at the Botanic Garden in Cambridge, while the lowest was −26.1 °C (−15.0 °F) on 10 January 1982 in Edgmond, Shropshire.
England has a temperate oceanic climate in most areas, lacking extremes of cold or heat, but does have a few small areas of subarctic and warmer areas in the South West. Towards the North of England the climate becomes colder and most of England's mountains and high hills are located here and have a major impact on the climate and thus the local fauna of the areas. Deciduous woodlands are common across all of England and provide a great habitat for much of England's wildlife, but these give way in northern and upland areas of England to coniferous forests (mainly plantations) which also benefit certain forms of wildlife. Some species have adapted to the expanded urban environment, particularly the red fox, which is the most successful urban mammal after the brown rat, and other animals such as common wood pigeon, both of which thrive in urban and suburban areas.
Grey squirrels introduced from eastern America have forced the decline of the native red squirrel due to competition. Red squirrels are now confined to upland and coniferous-forested areas of England, mainly in the north, south west and Isle of Wight. England's climate is very suitable for lagomorphs and the country has rabbits and brown hares which were introduced in Roman times. Mountain hares which are indigenous have now been re-introduced in Derbyshire. The fauna of England has to cope with varying temperatures and conditions, although not extreme they do pose potential challenges and adaptational measures. English fauna has however had to cope with industrialisation, human population densities amongst the highest in Europe and intensive farming, but as England is a developed nation, wildlife and the countryside have entered the English mindset more and the country is very conscientious about preserving its wildlife, environment and countryside.
The economy of England is the largest part of the UK's economy, 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 United Kingdom's main stock exchange and the largest in Europe, is England's financial centre, with 100 of Europe's 500 largest corporations being based there. London is the largest financial centre in Europe, and as of 2014 is the second largest in the world.Manchester is the largest financial and professional services sector outside London and is the mid tier private equity capital of Europe as well as one of the growing technology hubs of Europe.
The Bank of England, founded in 1694, is the United Kingdom's central bank. Originally established as private banker to the government of England, 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. The government has devolved responsibility to the bank's Monetary Policy Committee 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, cars (although many English marques are now foreign-owned, such as Land Rover, 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. The creative industries accounted for 7 per cent GVA in 2005 and grew at an average of 6 per cent per annum between 1997 and 2005.
Most of the UK's £30 billionaerospace industry is primarily based in England. The global market opportunity for UK aerospace manufacturers over the next two decades is estimated at £3.5 trillion.GKN Aerospace – an expert in metallic and composite aerostructures is involved in almost every civil and military fixed and rotary wing aircraft in production is based in Redditch.
BAE Systems makes large sections of the Typhoon Eurofighter at its sub-assembly plant in Samlesbury and assembles the aircraft for the RAF at its Warton plant, near Preston. It is also a principal subcontractor on the F35 Joint Strike Fighter – the world's largest single defence project – for which it designs and manufactures a range of components including the aft fuselage, vertical and horizontal tail and wing tips and fuel system. It also manufactures the Hawk, the world's most successful jet training aircraft.
Rolls-Royce PLC is the world's second-largest aero-engine manufacturer. Its engines power more than 30 types of commercial aircraft, and it has more 30,000 engines currently in service across both the civil and defence sectors. With a workforce of over 12,000 people, Derby has the largest concentration of Rolls-Royce employees in the UK. Rolls-Royce also produces low-emission power systems for ships; makes critical equipment and safety systems for the nuclear industry and powers offshore platforms and major pipelines for the oil and gas industry. The pharmaceutical industry plays an important role in the economy, and the UK has the third-highest share of global pharmaceutical R&D expenditures.
Much of the UK's space industry is centred on EADS Astrium, based in Stevenage and Portsmouth. The company builds the buses – the underlying structure onto which the payload and propulsion systems are built – for most of the European Space Agency's spacecraft, as well as commercial satellites. The world leader in compact satellite systems, Surrey Satellite Technology, is also part of Astrium.Reaction Engines Limited, the company planning to build Skylon, a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane using their SABRE rocket engine, a combined-cycle, air-breathing rocket propulsion system is based Culham. The UK space industry was worth £9.1bn in 2011 and employed 29,000 people. It is growing at a rate of 7.5 per cent annually, according to its umbrella organisation, the UK Space Agency. In 2013, the British Government pledged £60 million to the Skylon project: this investment will provide support at a "crucial stage" to allow a full-scale prototype of the SABRE engine to be built.
Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanised and efficient by European standards, 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. The main crops that are grown are wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, sugar beets. England retains a significant, though much reduced fishing industry. Its fleets bring home fish of every kind, ranging from sole to herring. It is also rich in natural resources including coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, and silica.
The Father of Railways, George Stephenson, built the first public inter-city railway line in the world, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which opened in 1830. With his role in the marketing and manufacturing of the steam engine, and invention of modern coinage, Matthew Boulton (business partner of James Watt) is regarded as one of the most influential entrepreneurs in history. The physician Edward Jenner's smallpox vaccine is said to have "saved more lives ... than were lost in all the wars of mankind since the beginning of recorded history."
The Royal Society started from groups of physicians and natural philosophers, meeting at a variety of locations, including Gresham College in London. They were influenced by the "new science", as promoted by Francis Bacon in his New Atlantis, from approximately 1645 onwards. A group known as "The Philosophical Society of Oxford" was run under a set of rules still retained by the Bodleian Library. After the English Restoration, there were regular meetings at Gresham College. It is widely held that these groups were the inspiration for the foundation of the Royal Society.
Scientific research and development remains important in the universities of England, with many establishing science parks to facilitate production and co-operation with industry. Between 2004 and 2008 the United Kingdom produced 7 per cent of the world's scientific research papers and had an 8 per cent share of scientific citations, the third and second-highest in the world (after the United States and China, respectively). Scientific journals produced in the United Kingdom include Nature, the British Medical Journal and The Lancet.
London St Pancras International is the UK's 13th busiest railway terminus. The station is one of London's main domestic and international transport hubs providing both commuter rail and high-speed rail services across the UK and to Paris, Lille and Brussels.
England has a dense and modern transportation infrastructure. There are many motorways in England, and many other trunk roads, such as the A1 Great North Road, which runs through eastern England from London to Newcastle (much of this section is motorway) and onward to the Scottish border. The longest motorway in England is the M6, from Rugby through the North West up to the Anglo-Scottish border, a distance of 232 miles (373 km). Other major routes include: 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 via Manchester to East Yorkshire, and the M5 from Birmingham to Bristol and the South West.
Rail transport in England is the oldest in the world: passenger railways originated in England in 1825. Much of Britain's 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of rail network lies in England, covering the country fairly extensively, although a high proportion of railway lines were closed in the second half of the 20th century. There are plans to reopen lines such as the Varsity Line between Oxford and Cambridge. These lines are mostly standard gauge (single, double or quadruple track) though there are also a few 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.
Crossrail was Europe's largest construction project with a £15 billion projected cost, opened in 2022.High Speed 2, a new high-speed north–south railway line, projected in 2015 to cost £56 billion is to start being built in 2020.
By sea there is ferry transport, both local and international, including from Liverpool to Ireland and the Isle of Man, and Hull to the Netherlands and Belgium. There are around 4,400 miles (7,100 km) of navigable waterways in England, half of which is owned by the Canal & River Trust, however, water transport is very limited. The River Thames is the major waterway in England, with imports and exports focused at the Port of Tilbury in the Thames Estuary, one of the United Kingdom's three major ports.
The Climate Change Act 2008 was passed in Parliament with an overwhelming majority across political parties. It sets out emission reduction targets that the UK must comply with legally. It represents the first global legally binding climate change mitigation target set by a country.UK government energy policy aims to play a key role in limiting greenhouse gas emissions, whilst meeting energy demand. Shifting availabilities of resources and development of technologies also change the country's energy mix through changes in costs.
A blue plaque, the oldest historical marker scheme in the world, is a permanent sign installed in a public place in England to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event. The scheme was the brainchild of politician William Ewart in 1863 and was initiated in 1866. It was formally established by the Royal Society of Arts in 1867, and since 1986 has been run by English Heritage. In 2011 there were around 1,600 museums in England. Entry to most state-supported museums and galleries is free unlike in other countries.
London is one of the world's most visited cities, regularly taking the top five most visited cities in Europe. It is largely considered a global centre of finance, arts and culture.
The National Health Service (NHS), is the publicly funded healthcare system 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, and it provides most of its services free at the point of use, although there are charges for some people for 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.
When purchasing drugs, the NHS has significant market power that, based on its own assessment of the fair value of the drugs, influences the global price, typically keeping prices lower. Several other countries either copy the UK's model or directly rely on its assessments for their own decisions on state-financed drug reimbursements. Regulatory bodies such as the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council are organised on a UK-wide basis, as are non-governmental bodies such as the Royal Colleges.
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. The South of England has a higher life expectancy than the North; however, regional differences do seem to be slowly narrowing: between 1991–1993 and 2012–2014, life expectancy in the North East increased by 6.0 years and in the North West by 5.8 years, the fastest increase in any region outside London, and the gap between life expectancy in the North East and South East is now 2.5 years, down from 2.9 in 1993.
Population of England and Wales by administrative areas. Their size shows their population, with some approximation. Each group of squares in the map key is 20 % of total number of districts.
With over 53 million inhabitants, England is by far the most populous country of the United Kingdom, accounting for 84% of the combined total.: 12 England taken as a unit and measured against international states would be the 25th largest country by population in the world.
In 1086, when the Domesday Book was compiled, England had a population of two million. About 10% lived in urban areas. By 1801, the population was 8.3 million, and by 1901 30.5 million. Due in particular to the economic prosperity of South East England, it has received many economic migrants from the other parts of the United Kingdom. There has been significant Irish migration. The proportion of ethnically European residents totals at 87.50%, including Germans and Poles.
Other people from much further afield in the former British colonies have arrived since the 1950s: in particular, 6% of people living in England have family origins in the Indian subcontinent, mostly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. About 0.7% of people are Chinese. 2.90% of the population are black, from Africa and the Caribbean, especially former British colonies. In 2007, 22% of primary school children in England were from ethnic minority families, and in 2011 that figure was 26.5%. About half of the population increase between 1991 and 2001 was due to immigration. Debate over immigration is politically prominent; 80% of respondents in a 2009 Home Office poll wanted to cap it. The ONS has projected that the population will grow by nine million between 2014 and 2039.
By the 15th century, English was back in 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.
When the modern border between Wales and England was established by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, many Welsh-speaking communities found themselves on the English side of the border. Welsh was spoken in Archenfield in Herefordshire into the nineteenth century, and by natives of parts of western Shropshire until the middle of the twentieth century if not later.
In the 2011 census, 59.4% of the population of England specified their religion as Christian, 24.7% answered that they had no religion, 5% specified that they were Muslim, while 3.7% of the population belongs to other religions and 7.2% did not give an answer. Christianity is the most widely practised religion in England, as it has been since the Early Middle Ages, although it was first introduced much earlier in Gaelic and Roman times. This Celtic Church was gradually joined to the Catholic hierarchy following the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by St Augustine. The established church of England is the Church of England, which left communion with Rome in the 1530s when Henry VIII was unable to annul his marriage to the aunt of the king of Spain. The church regards itself as both Catholic and Protestant.
24.7% of people in England declared no religion in 2011, compared with 14.6% in 2001. These figures are slightly lower than the combined figures for England and Wales as Wales has a higher level of irreligion than England.Norwich had the highest such proportion at 42.5%, followed closely by Brighton and Hove at 42.4%.
The Department for Education is the government department responsible for issues affecting people in England up to the age of 19, including education. State-run and state-funded schools are attended by approximately 93% of English schoolchildren. Education is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Education.
Children who are between the ages of 3 and 5 attend nursery or an Early Years Foundation Stage reception unit within a primary school. Children between the ages of 5 and 11 attend primary school, and secondary school is attended by those aged between 11 and 16. State-funded schools are obliged by law to teach the National Curriculum; basic areas of learning include English literature, English language, mathematics, science, art & design, citizenship, history, geography, religious education, design & technology, computing, ancient & modern languages, music, and physical education.
More than 90% of English schools require students to wear uniforms. School uniforms are defined by individual schools, within the constraint that uniform regulations must not discriminate on the grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion or belief. Schools may choose to permit trousers for girls or religious dress.
The Programme for International Student Assessment coordinated by the OECD currently ranks the overall knowledge and skills of British 15-year-olds as 13th in the world in reading literacy, mathematics, and science with the average British student scoring 503.7, compared with the OECD average of 493, ahead of the United States and most of Europe.
Higher education students normally attend university from age 18 onwards, where they study for an academic degree. There are over 90 universities in England, all but one of which are public institutions. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is the government department responsible for higher education in England. Students are generally entitled to student loans to cover the cost of tuition fees and living costs. The first degree offered to undergraduates is the bachelor's degree, which usually takes three years to complete. Students are then able to work towards a postgraduate degree, which usually takes one year, or towards a doctorate, which takes three or more years.
Georgian architecture followed in a more refined style, evoking a simple Palladian form; the Royal Crescent at Bath is one of the best examples of this. With the emergence of romanticism during Victorian period, a Gothic Revival was launched. In addition to this, around the same time the Industrial Revolution paved the way for buildings such as The Crystal Palace. Since the 1930s various modernist forms have appeared whose reception is often controversial, though traditionalist resistance movements continue with support in influential places.
The landscape garden at Stourhead. Inspired by the great landscape artists of the seventeenth century, the landscape garden was described as a "living work of art" when first opened in 1750s.
Landscape gardening, as developed by Capability Brown, set an international trend for the English garden. Gardening, and visiting gardens, are regarded as typically English pursuits. The English garden presented an idealized view of nature. At large country houses, the English garden usually included lakes, sweeps of gently rolling lawns set against groves of trees, and recreations of classical temples, Gothic ruins, bridges, and other picturesque architecture, designed to recreate an idyllic pastoral landscape.
By the end of the 18th century, the English garden was being imitated by the French landscape garden, and as far away as St. Petersburg, Russia, in Pavlovsk, the gardens of the future Emperor Paul. It also had a major influence on the form of the public parks and gardens which appeared around the world in the 19th century. The English landscape garden was centred on the English country house and manor houses.
Since the early modern period the food of England has historically been characterised by its simplicity of approach and a reliance on the high quality of natural produce. During the Middle Ages and through the Renaissance period, English cuisine enjoyed an excellent reputation, though a decline began during the Industrial Revolution with the move away from the land and increasing urbanisation of the populace. The cuisine of England has, however, recently undergone a revival, which has been recognised by food critics with some good ratings in Restaurant's best restaurant in the world charts. An early book of English recipes is the Forme of Cury from the royal court of Richard II.
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, this other Eden, demi-paradise; this fortress, built by nature for herself. This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall on the northern edge of South Kensington, London. Since the hall's opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the world's leading artists from many performance genres have appeared on its stage.
The Beatles are the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in popular music.
The circus is a traditional form of entertainment in England. Chipperfield's Circus dates back more than 300 years, making it one of the oldest family circus dynasties.Philip Astley is regarded as the father of the modern circus. Following his invention of the circus ring in 1768, Astley's Amphitheatre opened in London in 1773. As an equestrian master Astley had a skill for trick horse-riding, and when he added tumblers, tightrope-walkers, jugglers, performing dogs, and a clown to fill time between his own demonstrations – the modern circus was born.
Pantomime is a British musical comedy stage production, designed for family entertainment. It is performed in theatres throughout the England during the Christmas and New Year season. The art originated in the 18th century with John Weaver, a dance master and choreographer. In 19th century England it acquired its present form, which includes songs, slapstick comedy and dancing, employing gender-crossing actors, combining topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale.
There are many museums in England, but perhaps the most notable is London's British Museum. Its collection of more than seven million objects is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world, sourced from every continent, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present. The British Library in London is the national library and is one of the world's largest research libraries, holding over 150 million items in almost all known languages and formats; including around 25 million books. The most senior art gallery is the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, which houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The Tate galleries house the national collections of British and international modern art; they also host the famously controversial Turner Prize.
The BBC, founded in 1922, is the UK's publicly funded radio, television and Internet broadcasting corporation, and is the oldest and largest broadcaster in the world. It operates numerous television and radio stations in the UK and abroad and its domestic services are funded by the television licence. The BBC World Service is an international broadcaster owned and operated by the BBC. It is the world's largest of any kind. It broadcasts radio news, speech and discussions in more than 40 languages.
London dominates the media sector in England: national newspapers and television and radio are largely based there, although Manchester is also a significant national media centre. The UK publishing sector, including books, directories and databases, journals, magazines and business media, newspapers and news agencies, has a combined turnover of around £20 billion and employs around 167,000 people. National newspapers produced in England include The Times, The Guardian and the Financial Times.
As is the case throughout the UK, football in England is notable for the rivalries between clubs and the passion of the supporters, which includes a tradition of football chants. The most successful English football team in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League is Liverpool F.C. who have won the competition on six occasions. Other English success has come from Manchester United F.C., winning the competition on 3 occasions; Nottingham Forest F.C. and Chelsea F.C. on 2 occasions, Aston Villa F.C. have only won the trophy once.
Cricket is generally thought to have been developed in the early medieval period among the farming and metalworking communities of the Weald. The England cricket team is a composite England and Wales, team. One of the game's top rivalries is The Ashes series between England and Australia, contested since 1882. The climax of the 2005 Ashes was viewed by 7.4 million as it was available on terrestrial television. England has hosted five Cricket World Cups (1975, 1979, 1983, 1999 and 2019), winning the 2019 edition in a final regarded as one of the greatest one day internationals ever played. They hosted the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009, winning this format in 2010 beating rivals Australia in the final. In the domestic competition, the County Championship, Yorkshire are by far the most successful club having won the competition 32 times outright and sharing it on 1 other occasion.Lord's Cricket Ground situated in London is sometimes referred to as the "Mecca of Cricket".
Golf has been prominent in England; due in part to its cultural and geographical ties to Scotland, the home of Golf. There are both professional tours for men and women, in two main tours: the PGA and the European Tour. England has produced grand slam winners: Cyril Walker, Tony Jacklin, Nick Faldo, and Justin Rose in the men's and Laura Davies, Alison Nicholas, and Karen Stupples in the women's. The world's oldest golf tournament, and golf's first major is The Open Championship, played both in England and Scotland. The biennial golf competition, the Ryder Cup, is named after English businessman Samuel Ryder who sponsored the event and donated the trophy. Nick Faldo is the most successful Ryder Cup player ever, having won the most points (25) of any player on either the European or US teams.
Centre Court at Wimbledon. First played in 1877, the Wimbledon Championships is the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
Tennis was created in Birmingham in the late 19th century, and the Wimbledon Championships is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and widely considered the most prestigious. Wimbledon is a tournament that has a major place in the British cultural calendar. Fred Perry was the last Englishman to win Wimbledon in 1936. He was the first player to win all four Grand Slam singles titles and helped lead the Great Britain team to four Davis Cup wins. English women who have won Wimbledon include: Ann Haydon Jones in 1969 and Virginia Wade in 1977.
Originating in 17th and 18th-century England, the thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. The National Hunt horse race the Grand National, is held annually at Aintree Racecourse in early April. It is the most watched horse race in the UK, attracting casual observers, and three-time winner Red Rum is the most successful racehorse in the event's history. Red Rum is also the best-known racehorse in the country.
The St George's Cross has been the national flag of England since the 13th century. Originally the flag was used by the maritime Republic of Genoa. The English monarch paid a tribute to the Doge of Genoa from 1190 onwards so that English ships could fly the flag as a means of protection when entering the Mediterranean.
A red cross was a symbol for many Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries. It became associated with Saint George, along with countries and cities, which claimed him as their patron saint and used his cross as a banner. Since 1606 the St George's Cross has formed part of the design of the Union Flag, a Pan-British flag designed by King James I. During the English Civil War and Interregnum, the New Model Army's standards and the Commonwealth'sGreat Seal both incorporated the flag of Saint George.
There are numerous other symbols and symbolic artefacts, both official and unofficial, including the Tudor rose, the nation's floral emblem, and the Three Lions featured on the Royal Arms of England. The Tudor rose was adopted as a national emblem of England around the time of the Wars of the Roses as a symbol of peace. It is a syncretic symbol in that it merged the white rose of the Yorkists and the red rose of the Lancastrians—cadet branches of the Plantagenets who went to war over control of the nation. It is also known as the Rose of England. The oak tree is a symbol of England, representing strength and endurance. The Royal Oak symbol and Oak Apple Day commemorate the escape of King Charles II from the grasp of the parliamentarians after his father's execution: he hid in an oak tree to avoid detection before safely reaching exile.
^As Roger Scruton explains, "The Reformation must not be confused with the changes introduced into the Church of England during the "Reformation Parliament" of 1529–36, which were of a political rather than a religious nature, designed to unite the secular and religious sources of authority within a single sovereign power: the Anglican Church did not make substantial change in doctrine until later."
^Figure of 550,000 military deaths is for England and Wales.
^For instance, in 1980 around 50 million Americans claimed English ancestry. In Canada there are around 6.5 million Canadians who claim English ancestry. Around 70% of Australians in 1999 denoted their origins as Anglo-Celtic, a category which includes all peoples from Great Britain and Ireland. Chileans of English descent are somewhat of an anomaly in that Chile itself was never part of the British Empire, but today there are around 420,000 people of English origins living there.
^ abPeople who strictly identified as "Pagan". Other Pagan paths, such as Wicca or Druidism, have not been included in this number.
^People who strictly identified as "Wiccan". Other Pagan paths, such as Druidism, and general "Pagan" have not been included in this number.
^Students attending English universities now have to pay tuition fees towards the cost of their education, as do English students who choose to attend university in Scotland. Scottish students attending Scottish universities have their fees paid by the devolved Scottish Parliament.
^These tales may have come to prominence, at least in part, as an attempt by the Norman ruling elite to legitimise their rule of the British Isles, finding Anglo-Saxon history ill-suited to the task during an era when members of the deposed House of Wessex, especially Edgar the Ætheling and his nephews of the Scottish House of Dunkeld, were still active in the isles. Also Michael Wood explains; "Over the centuries the figure of Arthur became a symbol of British history – a way of explaining the matter of Britain, the relationship between the Saxons and the Celts, and a way of exorcising ghosts and healing the wounds of the past."
^Gascoin, J. "A reappraisal of the role of the universities in the Scientific Revolution", in Lindberg, David C. and Westman, Robert S., eds (1990), Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution. Cambridge University Press. p. 248. ISBN0-521-34804-8.
^"In depth history of the Church of England". Church of England. Retrieved 25 January 2017. The religious settlement that eventually emerged in the reign of Elizabeth gave the Church of England the distinctive identity that it has retained to this day. It resulted in a Church that consciously retained a large amount of continuity with the Church of the Patristic and Medieval periods in terms of its use of the catholic creeds, its pattern of ministry, its buildings and aspects of its liturgy, but which also embodied Protestant insights in its theology and in the overall shape of its liturgical practice. The way that this is often expressed is by saying that the Church of England is both 'catholic and reformed.'