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). You can expect cloudy weather and light drizzle in any part of the UK at any time. Read more England Weather
Mobile phone network coverage is excellent, though the system is not compatible with the North American GSM 1900 or the totally different system in Japan. Mobile phones can be rented, however it is not possible to use your existing number. Phone cards can be purchased for international calls and SIM cards are available so that you may use your mobile locally. Internet cafes are easy to find throughout the UK.
The majority of people in England are of British heritage, however in recent years England has become a multi-cultural melting pot. Recent immigrants (especially from the Commonwealth) speak other languages, including Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. The United Kingdom has the largest number of Hindi speaking peoples outside of the Indian sub continent.
The UK is a leading trading power and financial centre. Agriculture is intensive, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of the labour force. The UK has large coal, natural gas and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP. Services (particularly banking, insurance and business services) account for the largest proportion of GDP. The UK is Europe's largest manufacturer of armaments, petroleum products, personal computers, televisions, and mobile phones. Tourism is important; the UK is ranked as the sixth major tourist destination in the world. The current government has put off the question of participation in the Euro system; the currency is the British pound sterling.
240 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plug with two flat blades and one flat grounding blade are used.
The United Kingdom is off the northwestern coast of continental Europe, surrounded by the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The UK covers a total area of 244,820 km2. Most of England is flat or low-lying, with more mountainous terrain in the north and northwest.
The UK has a population of 58,789,194 (2001). Almost one-third of the population lives in England's prosperous southeast. About 7.2 million reside in the capital of London.
The transport system in the United Kingdom is well developed. A radial road network of 46,632 km of main roads is centred on London, Edinburgh and Belfast. The national rail network in Britain and in Northern Ireland carries over 18,000 passenger and 1,000 freight trains daily. Urban rail networks are also well-developed in London and seven other cities. Since 1994 Britain has been connected to mainland Europe via the Channel Tunnel.
Heathrow Airport is the world's busiest international airport. For those with limited time, there is a well-established network of domestic flights to the major cities in the UK. Low cost airlines offer competitive domestic fares.
The primary language spoken is English. Other indigenous languages include the Celtic languages (Welsh, the closely related Irish and Scots Gaelic, and the Cornish language) as well as Lowland Scots and Romany.
There is a wide range of magazines and daily papers available in England, from tabloids to the stimulating and well-written broadsheets. Foreign press is easily found in the major cities.
The United Kingdom is a member of the European Union. It is composed of three constituent countries; England, Scotland and Wales (all on the island of Great Britain) and the province of Northern Island on the island of Ireland. The UK is a constitutional monarchy, with executive power exercised on behalf of the Queen by the Prime Minister.
The Church of England is the official national church of England, but most religions found in the world are represented in the United Kingdom. In England, Scotland and Wales approximately 70% of the population are Christian. The rest are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or claim to have no religion. In Northern Island approximately 40% are Catholic while 45% are non-Catholic Christian.
GMT + 0 (GMT + 1 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)
Tipping is a common practice. If you eat in a restaurant you should leave a tip of at least 10% unless the service was unsatisfactory. Some restaurants include a service charge on the bill, in which case a gratuity is unnecessary. Taxi drivers expect to be tipped about 10%, especially in London. You never tip to have a pint poured in a pub however at swank cocktail bars a 10% tip is expected
You must at all times carry a valid passport. Australian and US citizens do not currently require a visa to visit England if the stay in no longer than 6 months. No specific vaccinations are required for the UK, however it is recommended that you check with your local doctor before departure for the latest updates.
Public Service offices are generally open from 08.00 to 14.00 from Monday to Friday, while private companies tend to operate from 09.00 to 17.00 Monday to Friday. Trading hours for retail stores are generally from 09.00 to 17.00 Monday to Saturday. In the major cities and tourist areas, many shops are open for extended hours, late night trading and on Sundays.