England (Latin Anglia),
political division of the island of Great Britain, the principal
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. England occupies all of the island east
of Wales and south
other divisions of the island
of Great Britain.
Established as an independent monarchy many centuries ago, England in time achieved political
the rest of the island, all the British Isles,
and vast sections of the world, becoming the nucleus of one of the
empires in history. The capital, largest city, and chief port
of England is London, with a
population in 1996 of 7
million. It is also the capital of the United
Kingdom and the site of the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nations.
England is somewhat triangular in shape, with its apex
mouth of the Tweed
River. The eastern
bounded by the North Sea, extends generally southeast to the North
the northern extremity of the region called the Downs.
The western leg of the triangle extends generally southwest from the
the Tweed along the boundary with Scotland,
the Irish Sea, St. George’s Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean to Land’s
westernmost extremity of England
and of the island. The northern frontier extends from Solway Firth on
along the Cheviot Hills to the mouth of the Tweed
on the east. The base of the triangle fronts the English Channel and
the Strait of Dover. The total area
130,410 sq km (50,350 sq mi), 57 percent of the area of the island.
approximately the size of the state of North
includes the region of the Isles of Scilly, southwest of Land’s End in
Atlantic Ocean; the Isle of Wight, located off the southern coast; and
of Man, located in the Irish Sea.
One of the principal physiographic features
of England, as well
as of the entire island
of Great Britain,
is the deeply indented
coast. Most of the indentations are excellent natural harbors, easily
accessible to deepwater shipping, a factor that has been decisive in
economic development and imperial expansion of England.
By virtue of the high
tides that prevail along the eastern coast, a number of rivers and
estuaries provide this region with safe anchorages. The most important
belong to such ports as Newcastle upon Tyne, on the Tyne River;
on the Tees River; Hull, on the Humber River; Great Yarmouth, on the
the Yare River; and London, on the Thames River. The most important
the southern coast include those of Dover,
Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton, Portsmouth,
Bournemouth, and Plymouth.
The western coast, considerably more broken than either the eastern or
coast, also has numerous anchorages. Of outstanding commercial
the harbor of Bristol,
at the confluence of Bristol Channel and the Severn River; and Liverpool Harbor,
at the mouth of the Mersey
The terrain of England
is diversified. The
northern and western portions are generally mountainous. The principal
region, the Pennine Chain (or Pennines), forms the backbone of northern
composed of several ranges extending south from the Cheviot Hills to
of the Trent River and numerous spurs
extensions that radiate in all directions. The extreme elevation of the
Chain and the highest summit in England
is Scafell Pike (978 m/3,209 ft above
level). A large portion of the area occupied by the Pennine Chain
Lake District, one of the most picturesque regions in England.
terrain east of Wales and between the southern extremities of the
and Bristol Channel is an extension of the rolling plain that occupies
central and eastern England. Much of the western part of this central
known as the Midlands; it contains an area that is known as the Black Country because of its intensive
development. To the east lies The Fens, a vast drained marsh area. To
of Bristol Channel an elevated plateau slopes upward, culminating in
uplands and moors of Cornwall and Devon. Dartmoor (about 600 m/about 2000 ft above sea
one of the wildest tracts in England,
is situated in this region. Successive ranges of chalk hills, seen from
Channel as white cliffs, project eastward from Devon to the Strait of Dover.
As a result of the relative warmth of the
has a moderate climate, rarely marked by extremes of heat or cold. The
annual temperature ranges between 11° C (52° F) in the south and 9° C
in the northeast. Seasonal temperatures vary between a mean of about
16° C (61°
F) during July, the hottest month of the year, and 4° C (40° F) during
the coldest month. The average January and July temperatures for the
city of London
are 4° C (40° F)
and 18° C (64° F), respectively. Fogs, mists, and overcast skies are
particularly in the Pennine and inland regions. Precipitation, heaviest
October, averages about 760 mm (about 30 in) annually in
most of England.
England has some agricultural and mineral
but must rely on imports of both. Approximately two-fifths of the land
arable, with the richest soils found in the east. Substantial reserves
ore are concentrated in Cumbria,
Staffordshire, and Lancashire.
resources are small and mostly concentrated in the highlands of Cumbria, in northern England.
In early times, England, like most of the
Great Britain, was heavily forested, chiefly with oak and beech in the
and pine and birch in the mountainous areas. Woodlands now constitute
percent of the total land area. Various types of fruit trees are
including the cherry, apple, and plum. A common shrub is a species of
known locally as gorse. Numerous varieties of wildflowers are also
Among the chief
indigenous fauna of England
are several species of
deer, fox, rabbit, hare, and badger. The most widespread bird is the
pipit, and sparrows are abundant. Grouse are found in the northern
Other familiar species are the crow, pigeon, rook, starling, and
members of the thrush family. Reptiles, of which only four species
occur on the
entire island of Great Britain, are rare in England.
The most common freshwater
fishes found in England
are trout and salmon.
The great majority of the people of
those of the British Isles in general, are descended from early Celtic
Iberian peoples and later invaders of the islands, including the
Anglo-Saxons, Danes, and Normans. After 1945 substantial numbers of
Asians immigrated into the country. England, once a nation of
rural villages, has become highly urban since the early 19th century.
information on language and literature, see
English Language; English Literature.
The population of England
(1996) was 49,089,000. The
overall population density of about 376 persons per sq km (about 975
per sq mi)
was one of the highest in the world.
For local governmental purposes, England
divided into 34 counties, 46 unitary
authorities, and Greater London (established in 1965 as a separate
entity). The counties are subdivided into
districts, which together are further divided into parishes.
of local government is presided over by a council, the members of which
elected to four-year terms. In districts that have the title of city or
chairperson of the council is the mayor. The present
counties and former counties of England
are described in separate articles.
After London, Birmingham,
population (1995) 1,017,500, is the second largest city and is the
center of an
extensive industrial area that contains major concentrations of the
and other industries. Liverpool (470,800) is the second largest port
major cargo export outlet for Britain;
it is also a great commercial and industrial center. Manchester
(432,600) is the chief commercial
hub of the cotton and synthetic-fiber textile industries, as well as an
important financial and commercial center and a major port. Among other
important cities are Sheffield (528,500), the heavy engineering center
for its high-quality steels, cutlery, and tools, and Bristol
(400,700), a leading port and
Religion The Church of England, a Protestant Episcopal
is the state church and the nominal church of nearly three-fifths of
population. The denomination next in importance is the Roman Catholic
which has about 6 million members in England. Among the numerous
Protestant denominations are the Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist,
Unitarian, and Society of Friends. England also has thousands
Muslims and Jews. Large communities of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs have
immigrated to England
since the 1950s.
Education For the development and administration of the
system, see United Kingdom.
In England and Wales
attendance is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16. About 90 percent
elementary and secondary schools are organized and maintained by local
education authorities and supported entirely by public funds; the
voluntary schools, provided and maintained by a private body, usually
Secondary Schools In the
7.7 million pupils were attending publicly maintained schools in England and Wales.
Enrollment in independent
schools was about 512,000; these private schools are referred to in England
“public” schools. The transfer from elementary to secondary school
takes place at the age of 11.
Schools Children with
conditions such as
blindness, deafness, mental retardation, or other disabilities are
special aid in ordinary schools or attend one of the day or boarding
established for such children. In the mid-1980s these special schools
nearly 1500 in
In the mid-1980s some 500 institutions
part-time or full-time education beyond the secondary level (called
education”) for students who do not go to a university. These schools
colleges, polytechnics, and institutes of agriculture, art, commerce,
science. Colleges of education numbered about 60.
Of the 34 traditional degree-granting
England, all except Oxford and Cambridge
University of; Oxford,
University of) were founded in the 19th and 20th centuries, many of
World War II (1939-1945). In the mid-1980s full-time university
totaled more than 290,000 annually.
Little is known of the earliest inhabitants
megaliths at Stonehenge and a
temple found at Stanton Drew in 1997 attest to the early presence of an
people, as do early historical and archaeological reports, but the
lasting influence on English culture was contributed by the Celts.
ruins bear witness to the Roman occupation, which began with the
Julius Caesar in 55 BC
extended until the 5th century AD.
Christianity was introduced by Roman soldiers but made little headway
populace, and its spread awaited the arrival of Saint
Augustine, first archbishop of Canterbury, in the 6th century.
Roman departure, the Saxons became dominant. A record of
their era is provided by the annals known as the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle and by the writings of Saint Bede the
Venerable, the theologian and historian. The Norman Conquest in 1066
the Saxon dominance and, in its mixing of elements from the Saxon and
past with the Norman,
created a new culture. The Normans
introduced feudalism and the French language to the upper classes. From
11th to the 14th century French was used at court and in vernacular
Latin was used in scholarly literature.
A major task for
William the Conqueror and his successors was the
amalgamation of Norman and Saxon and
common defense against warlike factions in Scotland,
Wales, and Scandinavia.
A stable social order directed toward these goals evolved slowly;
it still persist today. For example, both the strong class system of
and their hereditary peerage have their roots in the Norman period.
The decline of
feudalism, starting late in the 14th century, led in
England as elsewhere to the rise of cities and the development of a
class. By the 14th century a national secular culture was beginning to
and the English language (an amalgam of Anglo-Saxon and Norman-French
was being adopted by the educated. The English, however, had unique
caused by the size of their island and the limited type and amount of
found there. To fill their needs they developed into a nation of
mariners. The exploits of Sir Francis Drake and the defeat of the
Armada (1588) led to commercial advantage as much as to naval
Supremacy at sea not only gained England an empire but put
English in touch with peoples the world over. Wealth flowed back to the
in consequence, and so did ideas that enriched the traditions of England.
Limited local workforces contributed to the invention of machines and
earliest manifestations of what became known as the Industrial
Among the prime
traditions of the English are a fierce pride in their
freedom, a unity against adversity, and an ability to bring differing
together in compromise. Pride in being English is also a national
although the English show considerable diversity in habits, manners,
in speech. Queen's Birthday, observed on the second Saturday in June,
important day of celebration in England.
The sports most favored are cricket, rugby football, association
(soccer), and tennis. Both dog and horse racing are also popular.
Museums More than 500 public
authorities administer some 40,000 branch libraries throughout Britain.
the libraries in London are the British
the various divisions of which constitute the largest library in Britain; the University of London
Central Library; the Science Museum
the Public Record Office Library, which contains the National Archives.
cities and towns have museums of art, natural history, and archaeology.
best-known and largest museum is the British
Museum in London, which contains collections of
archaeological specimens from all over the world. Other outstanding
museums in London are the Tate Gallery,
the National Gallery, and the
Victoria and Albert Museum.
Archaeology See United Kingdom