England (Latin Anglia)

England (Latin Anglia)

England (Latin Anglia), political division of the island of Great Britain, constituting, with Wales, the principal division of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. England occupies all of the island east of Wales and south of Scotland, another division of the United Kingdom. Established as an independent monarchy many centuries ago, England in time achieved political control over the rest of the island, all the British Isles, and vast sections of the world, becoming the nucleus of one of the greatest empires in history.

The capital, largest city, and chief port of England is London, with a population (1991 preliminary) of 6,378,600. It is also the capital of Great Britain and the site of the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nations. England is somewhat triangular in shape, with its apex at the mouth of the Tweed River. The eastern leg, bounded by the North Sea, extends generally southeast to the North Foreland, the northern extremity of the region called the Downs.

The western leg of the triangle extends generally southwest from the mouth of the Tweed along the boundary with Scotland, the Irish Sea, St. Georges Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean to Lands End, the westernmost extremity of England and of the island. The northern frontier extends from Solway Firth on the west 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 of England is 130,439 sq km (50,363 sq mi), 57 percent of the area of the island.

This total, approximately the size of the state of North Carolina, includes the region of the Scilly Isles, southwest of Lands End in the Atlantic Ocean; the Isle of Wight (see Wight, Isle of), located off the southern coast; and the Isle of Man, located in the Irish Sea. The Land 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 the economic development and imperial expansion of England.

By virtue of the high tides that prevail along the eastern coast, a number of rivers and their estuaries provide this region with safe anchorages. The most important of these belong to such ports as Newcastle upon Tyne, on the Tyne River; Middlesbrough, on the Tees River; Hull, on the Humber River; Great Yarmouth, on the estuary of the Yare River; and London, on the Thames River. The most important harbors on 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 southern coast, also has numerous anchorages.

Of outstanding commercial importance are the harbor of Bristol, at the confluence of Bristol Channel and the Severn River; and Liverpool Harbor, at the mouth of the Mersey River. The terrain of England is diversified. The northern and western portions are generally mountainous. The principal highland region, the Pennine Chain (or Pennines), forms the backbone of northern England. It is composed of several ranges extending south from the Cheviot Hills to the valley of the Trent River and numerous spurs and extensions that radiate in all directions.

The extreme elevation of the Pennine Chain and the highest summit in England is Scafell Pike (978 m/3210 ft above sea level). A large portion of the area occupied by the Pennine Chain comprises the Lake District, one of the most picturesque regions in England. The terrain east of Wales and between the southern extremities of the Pennine Chain and Bristol Channel is an extension of the rolling plain that occupies most of central and eastern England. Much of the western part of this central region is known as the Midlands; it contains an area that is known as the Black Country because of its intensive industrial development.

To the east lies The Fens, a vast drained marsh area. To the south of Bristol Channel an elevated plateau slopes upward, culminating in the barren uplands and moors of Cornwall and Devon. Dartmoor (about 610 m/about 2000 ft above sea level), one of the wildest tracts in England, is situated in this region. Successive ranges of chalk hills, seen from the English Channel as white cliffs, project eastward from Devon to the Strait of Dover. Climate As a result of the relative warmth of the nearby seas, England has a moderate climate, rarely marked by extremes of heat or cold.

The mean annual temperature ranges between 11. 1 C (52 F) in the south and 8. 9 C (48 F) in the northeast. Seasonal temperatures vary between a mean of about 16. 1 C (61 F) during July, the hottest month of the year, and 4. 4 C (40 F) during January, the coldest month. The average January and July temperatures for the city of London are 4. 5 C (40 F) and 18 C (64 F), respectively. Fogs, mists, and overcast skies are frequent, particularly in the Pennine and inland regions. Precipitation, heaviest during October, averages about 760 mm (about 30 in) annually in most of England.

Natural Resources England has some agricultural and mineral resources but must rely on imports of both. Approximately two-fifths of the land area is arable, with the richest soils found in the east. Substantial reserves of iron ore are concentrated in Cumbria, Staffordshire, and Lancashire. Waterpower resources are small and mostly concentrated in the highlands of Cumbria, in northern England. Plants and Animals In early times, England, like most of the island of Great Britain, was heavily forested, chiefly with oak and beech in the lowlands and pine and birch in the mountainous areas.

Woodlands now constitute less than 4 percent of the total land area. Various types of fruit trees are cultivated, including the cherry, apple, and plum. A common shrub is a species of furze known locally as gorse. Numerous varieties of wildflowers are also found. Among the chief indigenous fauna of England are several species of deer, fox, rabbit, hare, and badger. The most widespread bird is the meadow pipit, and sparrows are abundant. Grouse are found in the northern counties. Other familiar species are the crow, pigeon, rook, starling, and several 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. Population The great majority of the people of England, like those of the British Isles in general, are descended from early Celtic and Iberian peoples and later invaders of the islands, including the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, and Normans. After 1945 substantial numbers of blacks and Asians immigrated into the country. England, once a nation of small rural villages, has become highly urban since the early 19th century.

For information on language and literature, see English Language; English Literature. Population Characteristics The population of England (1991 census, preliminary) was 46,170,300. The overall population density of about 354 persons per sq km (about 917 per sq mi) was one of the highest in the world. In 1980, approximately 75 percent were urban dwellers. Political Divisions For local governmental purposes, England is divided into 39 nonmetropolitan counties, 6 metropolitan counties, and Greater London (established in 1965 as a separate administrative entity).

The counties are subdivided into a total of about 330 districts, which together are further divided into some 10,000 parishes. Each level of local government is presided over by a council, the members of which are elected to four-year terms. In districts that have the title of city or borough, the chairperson of the council is the mayor. Before the reorganization of local government in 1974, England was divided into 46 administrative counties, Greater London, and 79 county boroughs. The present counties and former counties of England, each of which is described in a separate article in this encyclopedia, are listed in an accompanying chart.

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