| ENGLAND - TRAVEL AND DESTINATION INFORMATION
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England is the most populous home nation of the United Kingdom (UK). It accounts for more than 83% of the total UK population, occupies most of the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and shares land borders with Scotland, to the north, and Wales, to the west. Elsewhere, it is bordered by the North Sea, Irish Sea, Atlantic Ocean and English Channel.
England is named after the Angles, one of a number of Germanic tribes believed to have originated in Angeln in Northern Germany, who settled in England in the 5th and 6th centuries. This is also the origin of its Latin name Anglia.
Official Language: English de facto
Capital: London de facto
Largest City: London
Currency: Pound sterling (£) (GBP)
Time Zone: UTC / (GMT)
Summer: UTC +1 (BST)
National Anthems: None officially
National Flower: The Tudor rose (red, white)
PatronSsaint: St George
England has not had a distinct political identity since 1707, when Great Britain was established as a unified political entity; however, it has a legal identity separate from those of Scotland and Northern Ireland, as part of the entity "England and Wales". England's largest city, London, is also the capital of the United Kingdom.
When Best To Visit England
The best time to visit England is during the summer months between July and September when beside being warm you will enjoy long days with as much as 18 hours of sunshine.
Autumn and Spring are however when England is regarded to be at it's most beautiful despite the virtual daily rain showers for which the country is so well known.
England City Tours & Activities
England has a large number of cities, towns and villages. Those listed below are nine of greatest interest to travelers:
More About England
England comprises the central and southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain, plus offshore islands of which the largest is the Isle of Wight. It is bordered to the north by Scotland and to the west by Wales. It is closer to continental Europe than any other part of Britain, divided from France only by a 38 km (24 statute mile or 21 nautical mile) sea gap.
Most of England consists of rolling hills, but it is more mountainous in the north with a chain of low mountains, the Pennines, dividing east and west. The dividing line between terrain types is usually indicated by the Tees-Exe line. There is also an area of flat, low-lying marshland in the east, much of which has been drained for agricultural use.
The list of England's largest cities is much debated because in British English the normal meaning of city is "a continuously built-up urban area"; these are hard to define and various other definitions are preferred by some people to boost the ranking of their own city. London is by far the largest English city. Manchester and Birmingham vie for second place.
A number of other cities, mainly in the north of England, are of substantial size and influence. These include: Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Bristol and Sheffield Using the standard U.S. city limits definition of a city the top six are: Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Liverpool and Manchester. Note that London is not on this list (Greater London is a region and the City of London is tiny), and that one of the two candidates for the status of England's "second city", Manchester, is down in sixth. In the UK, this method of ranking cities is generally used only by people whose own city is promoted by it.
The Channel Tunnel, near Folkestone, links England to the European mainland. The English/French border is halfway along the tunnel.
The largest harbour in England is at Poole, on the south-central coast. Internationally, it is the second largest harbour in the world, although this fact is disputed.
By plane -
England has numerous airports:
London Gatwick (http://www.baa.co.uk/main/airports/gatwick/)
London Heathrow (http://www.baa.com/main/airports/heathrow/)
London Stansted (http://www.baa.com/main/airports/stansted/)
London Luton (http://www.london-luton.co.uk/)
Manchester International (http://www.manairport.co.uk/web.nsf)
Liverpool John Lennon (http://www.liverpooljohnlennonairport.com/)
Newcastle International (http://www.newcastleairport.com/)
Humberside International (http://www.humberside-airport.co.uk)
Birmingham International (http://www.bhx.com/)
Nottingham East Midlands (http://www.eastmidlandsairport.com/)
Coventry Airport (http://www.coventry-airport.co.uk/)
Click here to compare air ticket prices and flights to and from England.
The Eurostar (http://www.eurostar.com/dctm/jsp/index.jsp) links mainland Europe to England. Trains run from Paris and Brussels (via Lille, Calais and Ashford) to Waterloo Station in London.
By Boat / Ferry
With so much coastline and so many ports, England has extensive shipping links with many countries worldwide. Major ports are Dover, Folkestone, Harwich, Hull, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Liverpool, Ipswich and Newcastle. You may book a ferry to or from England at www.ferries.org
Getting Around In England
England is well serviced by domestic air, land and sea routes.
There are taxi firms everywhere (many are by booking only - find the phone number of the local company and phone ahead), and every town has a bus service.
England has one of the highest densities of railway lines per square mile in the world. There has been much improvement and investment in recent years to the railway network and rolling stock but delays and cancellations do occasionally occur. Overcrowding can be a problem in large cities, especially at 'rush-hour' times (7am - 9am & 5pm - 7pm, Monday to Friday) so it is best to avoid these times when tickets can be expensive as well.
Buses are numerous, frequent and reliable in most of the larger towns and cities and an ideal way of getting around. Rural areas are less well served and hiring a car is the best option to explore the countryside and villages.
The speed limit, unless otherwise stated, is 60 mph (approx 95 kmph) on single carriageways and 70 mph (approx. 110 kmph) on dual carriageways. The traditional British 'reserve' and politeness may occasionally dissolve under the stress of congestion on the major routes, especially with the traffic problems in some of England's larger cities, but generally driving around Britain is an enjoyable experience and it is polite to acknowledge the courtesy of another driver with a nod or the raising of the hand as a form of thankyou.
Brown and white roadsigns indicate nearby tourist attractions, and the blue i sign denotes Tourist Information.
Traditional English Food
Pubs are probably the best place to get reasonably priced food, though beware that they usually stop serving food at around 9-9:30pm. Pub food has become quite sophisticated in recent years and as well as serving the more traditional English food, more exotic dishes are now prepared in the majority of the larger pubs.
English food has recently undergone a revolution with many larger cities having award winning restaurants run by the many 'famous' and numerous TV chefs which have now become part of the recently acquired English obsession with food. Be prepared to pay for the experience!
If good quality and cheaply priced food is more your choice then try one of the many ethnic restaurants such as Chinese, Asian or Mexican. Eating a curry or balti in an Indian or Pakistani restaurant is tantamount to an English obsession. These restaurants are found everywhere, even the larger villages have them, and usually the food is of good quality and they will cater for most tastes though the emphasis is often on the spicy side. In the towns and cities these restaurants are usually open late (especially on a Friday and Saturday night) to cater for people eating after the pubs have closed. It is at this time that they can get very busy and lively, so if you want to avoid the crowds then visit the restaurants before the local pubs shut.
Unlike many other European countries, vegetarian and vegan food is widely available and appreciated in pubs and restaurants with several dishes usually appearing on the menu alongside the more normal meat and fish options.
England is home to a huge variety of alcoholic drinks. As well as wines and spirits (mainly imported, but some local), there is lager (light and fizzy), bitter (darker and bitter-tasting), ale (somewhat dark and aromatic) and stout (thick and dark) - local or imported.
Bitters and ales are the more "traditional" English drinks and come in a wide range of types, strengths and flavours. There are regional variations with each area having its own distinctive recipe. Traditional ale is not generally served warm as many people believe, but served at 'cool' cellar temperatures (8-12C).
There are pubs and bars everywhere. You would be hard pressed to find even a village that does not have at least one pub.
Licencing laws have recently been changed in England (November 2005) that now allow pubs more flexible opening hours, though as a general rule pubs close between 23:00 and midnight. However in most cities and many towns, centrally located pubs and bars will stay open later (until 1:00 or 2:00), especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Also, at public holiday times, many pubs extend their closing times - especially New Year's Eve.
Tea is widely drunk throughout the country, with milk and, depending on the individual's taste, sugar. There are many popular brands, including PG Tips and Tetley. In tea-rooms, less frequently seen these days, tea is traditionally accompanied by scones and jam or cake or biscuits.
Accommodation In England
England offers the usual Western assortment of sleeping options including:-
England has been inhabited for at least 50,000 years, although the repeated Ice Ages made much of Britain uninhabitable for extended periods until as recently as 20,000 years ago. Stone Age hunter-gatherers eventually gave way to farmers and permanent settlements, with an advanced megalithic civilization arising in western England some 4,000 years ago. It was replaced around 1,500 years later by Celtic tribes migrating from Western and continental Europe, mainly from France. These tribes were known collectively as "Britons", a name bestowed by Phoenician traders — an indication of how, even at this early date, the island was part of a Europe-wide trading network.
The Britons were significant players in continental affairs and supported their allies in Gaul militarily during the Gallic Wars with the Roman Republic. This prompted the Romans to invade and subdue the island, first with Julius Caesar's raid in 55 BC, and then the Emperor Claudius' conquest in the following century. The whole southern part of the island — roughly corresponding to modern day England and Wales — became a prosperous part of the Roman Empire. It was finally abandoned early in the 5th century when a weakening Empire pulled back its legions to defend borders on the Continent.
Unaided by the Roman army, Roman Britannia could not long resist the Germanic tribes who arrived in the 5th and 6th centuries, enveloping the majority of modern day England in a new culture and language and pushing Romano-British rule back into modern-day Wales and western extremities of England, notably Cornwall and Cumbria. Others emigrated across the channel to modern-day Brittany, thus giving it its name and language (Breton). But many of the Romano-British remained in and were assimilated into the newly "English" areas.
The invaders fell into three main groups: the Jutes, the Saxons, and the Angles. As they became more civilised, recognisable states formed and began to merge with one another. (The most well-known state of affairs being the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy.) From time to time throughout this period, one Anglo-Saxon king, recognised as the "Bretwalda" by other rulers, had effective control of all or most of the English; so it is impossible to identify the precise moment when the Kingdom of England was unified. In some sense, real unity came as a response to the Danish Viking incursions which occupied the eastern half of "England" in the 8th century. Egbert, King of Wessex (d. 839) is often regarded as the first king of all the English, although the title "King of England" was first adopted, two generations later, by Alfred the Great (ruled 871–899).
The principal legacy left behind in those territories from which the languages of the Britons were displaced is that of toponyms. Many of the place-names in England and to a lesser extent Scotland are derived from Celtic British names, including London, Dumbarton, York, Dorchester, Dover and Colchester. Several place-name elements are thought to be wholly or partly Brythonic in origin, particularly bre-, bal-, and -dun for hills, carr for a high rocky place, coomb for a small deep valley.
From this age, where the majority culture and language came to be that of a Germanic origin - Old English. We can piece together how England came to be created and have the Welsh legacy of their meaning for England "Lloegr" translated as "lost lands".
Until recently it has been believed that those areas settled by the Anglo-Saxons were uninhabited at the time or the Britons had fled before them. However, genetic studies show that the British may not have been pushed out to the Celtic fringes – many tribes remained in what was to become England (see C. Capelli et al. A Y chromosome census of the British Isles. Current Biology 13, 979–984, (2003)). Capelli's findings strengthen the research of Steven Bassett of the University of Birmingham; his work during the 1990s suggests that much of the West Midlands was only lightly colonised with Anglian and Saxon settlements.
In 1066, William the Conqueror and the Normans conquered the existing Kingdom of England and instituted an Anglo-Norman administration and nobility who, retaining proto-French as their language for the next three hundred years, ruled as custodians over English commoners. Although the language and racial distinctions faded rapidly during the middle ages, the class system born in the Norman/Saxon divide persisted longer — arguably with traces lasting to the modern day.
While Old English continued to be spoken by common folk, Norman feudal lords significantly influenced the language with French words and customs being adopted over the succeeding centuries evolving to a Germano‐Romance creole now known as Middle English widely spoken in Chaucer's time.
England came repeatedly into conflict with Wales and Scotland, at the time an independent principality and an independent kingdom respectively, as its rulers sought to expand Norman power across the entire island of Britain. The conquest of Wales was achieved in the 13th century, when it was annexed to England and gradually came to be a part of that kingdom for most legal purposes, although in the modern era it is more usually thought of as a separate nation (fielding, for example, its own athletic teams). Norman power in Scotland waxed and waned over the years, with the Scots managing to maintain a varying degree of independence despite repeated wars with the English. Although it was on the whole only a moderately successful power in military terms, England became one of the wealthiest states in medieval Europe, due chiefly to its dominance in the lucrative wool market.
The failure of English territorial ambitions in continental Europe prompted the kingdom's rulers to look further afield, creating the foundations of the mercantile and colonial network that was to become the British Empire. The turmoil of the Reformation embroiled England in religious wars with Europe's Catholic powers, notably Spain, but the kingdom preserved its independence as much through luck as through the skill of charismatic rulers such as Elizabeth I. Elizabeth's successor, James I was already king of Scotland (as James VI); and this personal union of the two crowns into the crown of Great Britain was followed a century later by the Act of Union 1707, which formally unified England, Scotland and Wales into the Kingdom of Great Britain. This later became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801 to 1927) and then the modern state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1927 to present).
Demographics of England
England is both the most populous and the most ethnically diverse nation in the United Kingdom with around 49 million inhabitants, of which roughly a tenth are from non-White ethnic groups. It is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, second only to the Netherlands.
There is a debate over the extent to which the population of England (and indeed that of Britain as a whole) is composed of long-standing indigenous stock or descended from various groups of settlers and immigrants who have arrived over millennia. The traditional view that the population was largely descended from successive waves of incomers has been increasingly challenged, and DNA evidence of the contemporary connections of Cheddar Man has been cited as demonstrating that a substantial proportion of the present day population maybe descended from groups that populated the island in prehistory (The Times, 8 March 1997).
The principal waves of migration have been in c. 600 BC (Celts, although these days there is a strong view that the 'Celtic' culture spread to Britain through acculturation rather than migration), the Roman period (garrison soldiers from throughout the Empire), 350–550 (Angles, Saxons, Jutes and other West Germanic groups), 800–900 (Vikings, Danes), 1066 (Normans), 1650–1750 (European refugees such as the Huguenots), 1840–1850 (Irish), 1880–1940 (Irish, Jews), 1950— (Irish, Caribbeans, Africans, South Asians), 1985— (citizens of European Community member states especially Ireland, East Europeans, Iranians, Kurds, refugees). In 2001 the largest foreign-born elements in the British population came from the Republic of Ireland (495,000), India (466,000), Pakistan (321,000), Germany (262,000), the Caribbean (255,000) and the United States (155,000).
The general prosperity of England as the largest partner of the UK, has also made it a destination for economic migrants from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This segment of English homogeneous society continues to create a diverse and dynamic language that is widely used internationally. The other image of foreign ethnic components in England is still mostly seen as a legacy of the British Empire; especially the Commonwealth of Nations.
Since the promulgation of the 1284 Statute of Rhuddlan and the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542, Wales has shared a legal identity with England as the joint entity of England and Wales. The Act of Union with the Kingdom of Scotland in 1707 created the Kingdom of Great Britain, subsuming England, Wales and Scotland into a single political entity. Scotland, along with Northern Ireland, retain separate legal systems. The duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster also retain some unique rights.
All of Great Britain has been ruled by the government of the United Kingdom since that date, although in 1999 the first elections to the newly created Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales left England as the only part of the Union with no devolved assembly or parliament. As all legislation for England is passed by Parliament at Westminster there are some complaints about the ability of non-English Members of Parliament to influence purely English affairs. This apparent anomaly has been highlighted by both English and non-English politicians, often those opposed to devolution, has become popularly known as the West Lothian question.
Administratively, England is something of an anomaly within the UK. Unlike the other three nations, it has no local parliament or government and its administrative affairs are dealt with by a combination of the UK government, the UK parliament and a number of England-specific quangos, such as English Heritage. There are calls from an increasing number for a devolved English Parliament and from others for the dissolution of the UK and an independent England.
The current Labour government favoured the establishment of regional administration, claiming that England was too large to be governed as a sub-state entity. A referendum on this issue in North East England on 4 November 2004 decisively rejected the proposal.
Some criticised the English regional proposals for not decentralising enough, saying that they amounted not to devolution, but to little more than local government reorganisation, with no real power being removed from central government. The English regions would not even have had the limited powers of the Welsh Assembly, much less the tax-varying and legislative powers of the Scottish Parliament. Rather, power was simply re-allocated within the region, with little new resource allocation and no real prospects of Assemblies being able to change the pattern of regional aid. Responsibility for regional transport was added to the proposals late in the process. This was perhaps crucial in the North East, where resentment at the Barnett Formula, which delivers greater regional aid to adjacent Scotland, was a significant impetus for the North East devolution campaign. There has also been a campaign for a Cornish assembly along Welsh lines by groups such as Mebyon Kernow, which recently collected 50,000 signatures in support.
Some eurosceptics believe that the establishment of English regions as administrative entities is designed to undermine the concept of English nationhood and more easily fit England into a European federal model.
Conventionally the national capital of England is London, although technically it would be more exact to call London the capital of "England and Wales" given England's lack of a distinctive political identity separate from the Principality. Winchester served as the country's first national capital until some time in the late 11th century after the Norman Conquest. The City of London became England's commercial capital, while the City of Westminster (where the Royal court was located) became the political capital. These roles have, broadly speaking, been maintained to the present day.
Historically, the highest level of local government in England was the county. These divisions had emerged from a range of units of old, pre-unification England, whether they were Kingdoms, such as Essex and Sussex; Duchies, such as Yorkshire, Cornwall and Lancashire or simply tracts of land given to some noble, as is the case with Berkshire. Until 1867, they were subdivided into smaller divisions called hundreds.
These counties all still exist in, or near to, their original form as the traditional counties. In many places, however, they have been heavily modified or abolished outright as administrative counties. This came about due to a number of factors.
The fact that the counties were so small meant, and still means, that there was no body able to coordinate an overarching plan for the area, other than the central government. This was especially true in the metropolitan areas surrounding the cities, as the county lines were usually drawn up before the industrial revolution and the mass urbanisation of England.
The solution was the creation of large metropolitan counties centred on cities. These were later broken up, with several other counties, into unitary authorities, unifying the county and district/borough levels of government.
London is a special case, and is the one region which currently has a representative authority as well as a directly elected mayor. The 32 London boroughs and the Corporation of London remain the local form of government in the city.
Other than Greater London, the official regions are:
North East England
North West England
Yorkshire and the Humber
East of England
South West England
South East England
Outside London the regions have very little power and are accountable to parliament, not locally elected representatives. Regional authority is placed in the hands of local assemblies appointed by the British Government.
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Book your cross channel ferry tickets to and from the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Holland and Spain online in advance at Ferries.org to benefit from exclusive online discounts of on all major ferry operators including P&O, Stenaline, Brittany Ferries, Seafrance and Irish Ferries.