England is no more than 29km (18mi) from France across the narrowest part of the English Channel. Much of England is flat or low-lying. In the north is a range of limestone hills, known as the Pennines, to the west are the Cumbrian Mountains and the Lake District. South of the Pennines is the heavily populated Midlands, and in the southwest peninsula, known as the West country, is a plateau with granite outcrops, good dairy farming and a rugged coastline. The rest of the country is known as the English Lowlands, a mixture of farmland, low hills, an industrial belt and the massive city of London.
England's national parks cover about 7% of the country and include Dartmoor, Exmoor, the Lake District, the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors, the New Forest, the Broads and Northumberland. English national parks are not wilderness areas, but they do include Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB) - they also tend to be privately owned and provide an antidote to the hectic pace of many cities.
England was once almost entirely covered with woodland, but tree cover is now the second lowest in Europe (after Ireland). Since early this century the government has been planting conifers to reverse this situation, but the pines have turned the soils around them acid and destroyed large areas of ancient peatland. Other common trees include oak, elm, chestnut, lime (not the citrus variety), ash and beech. Although there isn't much tall flora around, you'll see plenty of lovely wildflowers in spring - snowdrops, daffodils, bluebells, primroses, buttercups and cowslips all lend a touch of colour to the English countryside. On the moors there are several varieties of flowering heathers.
The red deer is the largest mammal in England, and there are plenty of them (as well as fallow and roe deer) around. Foxes prosper, and if you're lucky you may see a badger or hedgehog. Introduced American grey squirrels are forcing out the smaller local red variety. Rabbits are everywhere, while smaller rodents such as the shrew, harvest mouse and water vole are less common (but frightfully cute). England's only poisonous snake, the adder, is rare and protected. Birdwatching is a popular pastime in Britain, but while the numbers and diversity of coastal bird species do not appear to be in danger, the same cannot be said for other British birds - a number of species that were quite common only 25 years ago are rapidly dwindling because of habitat destruction.
England's climate is mild and damp, with temperatures moderated by the light winds that blow in off its relatively warm seas. Temperatures inland don't get much below freezing in winter (December to February), or much above 30°C (86°F) in summer (June to August). The north is the coldest area; London, the southeast and the West Country are the warmest. Rainfall is greatest in hilly areas and in the West Country. You can expect cloudy weather and light drizzle in any part of England at any time.
England, bound by Scotland to the north and Wales to the west, is the largest of the three political divisions within the island of Great Britain.
129,720 sq km
Anglo-Saxons, Scots, Welsh, Irish, West Indians, Pakistanis, Indians
Church of England, Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh.
Football, cricket, rugby, golf: name a sport and there\'s a good chance we Brits invented it, wrote the rules or are just plain obsessed by it. And if playing or watching your favourites isn\'t enough, why not check out one of our top sporting museums or tours?
Love your football? Then take a tour of your favourite club. Sit in the dug-out at Manchester United, tour the players’ dressing room at Liverpool FC or discover Celtic’s fascinating history. And if you want to re-live the triumphs and tragedies of English international soccer, visit Wembley Stadium where you can see the England changing room and raise a replica FA Cup. The new National Football Museum in Manchester, opened in 2012, also boasts the greatest collection of football memorabilia ever assembled.
More of a cricket fan? Lord’s in London is the spiritual home of cricket in the UK and for many, the world. Visit to see the tiny Ashes urn, hotly contested by England and Australia, and cricketing kit worn by many of the game’s greatest players. London is also home to Wimbledon, the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, home to an excellent interactive museum where you can take a \'walk-through\' of the men\'s dressing room as it was in the 1980s, with John McEnroe.
And if rugby’s your game, you won’t find more passionate fans than the Welsh. If you’re in Cardiff don’t miss a tour of the magnificent Millennium Stadium for an insider’s guide to this incredible building with its trademark retractable roof. A visit to the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham is also a must.
North of the border, you’ll find the iconic home of golf, St Andrews Old Course in Scotland. Join the hallowed ranks of pro golfers to play the golf course that Tiger Woods calls “the ultimate”. Not far away, the British Golf Museum tells the story of British golf chronologically, exploring the events, personalities and equipment used throughout the ages.