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Life in the UK Test 3rd Edition Chapter 2: What is the UK?

The United Kingdom is a group of four countries, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These four countries are directly ruled by the government located at Westminster, London which is the capital city of the UK. There are also a number of small islands called the Channel Islands which dot the English Channel, the body of water that separates England and France. The Channel Islands have their own independent governments. Another name for these islands is “Crown Dependencies”.

There are also a number of overseas territories of the UK which function as separate, independent states which also have their own individual governments. Examples of these countries are St Helena and the Falkland Islands. There is also a loose association of countries which have indirect links with the UK known as the commonwealth. Two major Commonwealth countries are Canada and Australia.

All the territories of the UK are ruled in name by the monarch of England who is at present Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The Monarchy has honorary powers which can only be executed through laws enacted in the British Parliament.

Here is some information about the four main countries which form the United Kingdom.


Geographically, England is situated in northwest Europe. It is in the southernmost part of the UK. It is the biggest country in the UK. The distance between England and France is 35 kilometers and these two countries are today connected to each other by a tunnel which runs below the English Channel known as the “Chunnel”.

The landscape is varied and differs between chalk cliffs and hills of the Downs and hard granite in Dartmoor and Exmoor in the south-west region. English landscape is named after the characteristic rock formations of each area. The main geographic regions are the Dales of Yorkshire, the Peak District in the north, the Lake District, the Penines (a chain of hills), the Southwest and the Southeast Downs which are characterized by chalk cliffs.


This country is situated in Northwest Europe and is part of the island-country of Great Britain. The terrain of Scotland is mountainous, especially in the north and has a border with England on its south side. Scotland also has its fair share of Islands – about 790 out of which 130 are uninhabited.

Scotland is well-known for its freshwater lakes which are called Lochs in Scottish. There are an estimated 600 square miles of lochs in Scotland, the most renowned being Loch Ness which is supposed to conceal a monster known as the “Loch Ness Monster”.

Castles are also a popular feature of Scotland. Also interesting about Scotland are the clans and kilts. Scottish society is divided into units known as “clans” and each clan is identified by its “tartan” which is a coloured check design. This design is woven into a skirt-like garment known as a kilt which is worn my Scottish men.


Wales is situated in northwest Europe; the terrain of Wales is mountainous. It is situated on Great Britain’s western side. Historically, Wales was absorbed into the UK in 1282 when King Edward I, the British Monarch conquered it. Wales is ruled by London. It cannot make its own laws, nor can it issue its own neither currency or control armed forces. Rugby is the national game of Wales.

Northern Ireland

It occupies the northeast end of the island of Ireland which is a separate island to the west of the island of Great Britain. In the early 1800s, the whole of Ireland came under the UK. Following a long period of civil war, the southeast region of the country became independent as the Republic of Ireland and UK retained six counties which came to be known as Northern Ireland.

Although Northern Ireland has its own separate national day, St Patrick’s Day, the national anthem is God Save the Queen and the currency is the pound sterling. The capital city of Northern Ireland is Belfast.?

Life in the UK Practice Test