The UK is made up of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland, and is one of the 27 member states of the European Union (EU).
Land and water: 242,900Km2
The UK – approximately 60.6 million (England 50,714,000; Wales 2,977,000; Scotland 5,108,000; Northern Ireland 1,733,000).
The two official languages in Britain are English and Welsh, English being the most widely spoken. Scottish Gaelic is also spoken in some parts of Scotland.
The majority of the population is English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish. However, Britain is an extremely diverse nation with a strong culture of racial integration and unity.
Most people are Christian (71%), although all other religions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism are freely practised. About 23% of Britain follow no particular religion.
The UK is a constitutional monarchy that is a representative democracy, where Queen Elizabeth II is recognised as the head of state, and the elected Prime Minister – Gordon Brown – is the head of government.
The UK is a leading trading power and a financial centre. Agriculture is an important industry and highly efficient. Primary energy, like coal and oil, are major contributors to the economy, but services like banking and insurance are the greatest contributors.
Britain’s unit of currency is the Great British Pound (sterling) – GBP. The symbol for the pound sterling is £.
London 4 hrs 30 min behind IST
Britain has a fairly temperate climate and is sometimes overcast. The weather can vary greatly from day to day, but generally summer (June-August) is a warm 14-25 °C, and winter (December-February) is a cool 1-4 °C.
Seasonal variation & what to wear
Whatever the season, the British weather is liable to change from day to day, so if you are wondering what to wear, it is a good idea to bring a selection of items including some light clothes, items you can layer (that way you can add or remove layers depending on temperature), at least one warm pullover and a waterproof coat or umbrella. To get a better idea about what to pack, look at the seaonal variations you can expect in Britain:
Spring (March - May)
In spring, you can enjoy wonderful sunny weather, but it can also be cool or wet. Temperatures fluctuate from around 6 - 11 °C. May can have very warm days - up to about 18 °C.
Summer (June - August)
Most days in summer are warm to hot, but evenings can be cool. Temperatures average around 14 - 30 °C, although it can be up to around 35 °C on some days.
Autumn (September - November)
In autumn there can be very warm days, but equally there can be cool ones too. Temperatures fluctuate around the 7 - 18 °C mark, but are likely to be much warmer in September than November.
Winter (December - early March)
Winter sees Britain's shortest and coolest days (about 7-8 hours of daylight) but these can be crisp and bright. Temperatures fluctuate from around 1 - 5 °C.