Geography of the United Kingdom

Geography of the United Kingdom
Situated in northwestern Europe, the United Kingdom is composed of four parts: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The United Kingdom is a sovereign state that is just off the north-western coast of continental Europe. This country is located on two islands – the island of Great Britain where England, Wales, and Scotland are present, and the island of Ireland where Northern Ireland occupies a sixth of this island. There are also many smaller islands that form this archipelago.

The UK mainland lies between 49°N and 59°N / 8°W to 2°E. The Prime Meridian of which time is measured is located just south east of London at the Royal Greenwich Observatory. This is where Greenwich Mean Time comes from. However, this area is actually not the middle of the United Kingdom. It is thought that the middle of the UK is either Dunsop Bridge, Lancashire or Haltwhistle, Northumberland.

The UK is relatively small compared to larger islands around the world such as Australia. The land mass is equivalent to about 245,000 sq km. England is the largest area, spanning over 130,410 sq km or just over half of the total land area of the United Kingdom. Scotland occupies the 2nd largest land space, at 78,772 sq km. Both Northern Ireland and Wales are smaller by more than half this, as Wales is spread over 20,758 sq km while Northern Ireland is only 14,160 sq km.

Its nearby neighbours include the Republic of Ireland and France. The Republic of Ireland is just south of Northern Ireland, and is accessible via many modes of transportation. England is merely 35 km away from France, and these two nations are split via the English Channel. However, locals and travellers alike can easily hop over to the UK or France by train. Other than the English Channel, the major bodies of water surrounding the United Kingdom are the Atlantic Ocean, Irish Sea, and the North Ocean.

The United Kingdom's physical geography does vary greatly. England is mostly lowland however it is mountainous to the Tees-Exe line's north-west. These hilly and mountainous areas include the Cumbrian Mountains, limestone hills, the Pennines, Dartmoor, and Exmoor. Scotland is distinguishable due to a rock fracture called the Highland Boundary Fault which runs from Stonehaven to Helensburgh. The fault line separates the Highlands which are in northern and western Scotland, while the lowlands are in the south and east. Wales is the most mountainous region, though north and mid-Wales is more mountainous than the south. Northern Ireland has some truly picturesque scenery including the Mournes as well as Lough Neagh which is the largest body of water in this nation.

The 10 tallest mountains in the United Kingdom are all in Scotland. The tallest mountain in Scotland is Ben Nevis at 1,344 metres tall. Snowdon is the tallest peak in Wales at 1,085m, Scafell Pike which is part of the English Cumbrian Mountains is the tallest peak at 977, and Northern Ireland's tallest peak is Slieve Donard at 852m. The lowest point of elevation is the Fens in East Anglia, England, which actually lies about 4m below sea level. There are also many important mountainous and hilly regions other than these peaks.

The longest river in the UK is the River Severn which runs 354 km through both England and Wales. Other important rivers include England's River Thames, Scotland's River Tay, Northern Ireland's River Bann, and Wales' River Towy. Important lakes include Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland, Loch Lomond in Scotland, Windermere in England, and Llyn Tegid (or Bala Lake) in Wales. The deepest lake in the nation is Loch Morar which is 309 metres deep. Loch Ness is the next deepest lake at a depth of 228 metres.