About England

Since Westminster is the UK parliament but also legislates on matters that affect England alone, devolution of national matters to

About England



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of Scotland had been drawing increasingly together since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century and after 1603, when the two countries became linked by a personal union, being ruled by the same Stuart dynasty. Following a number of attempts to unite the Kingdoms, on 1 May 1707, the Acts of Union resulted in a political union between the states creating the Kingdom of Great Britain.The Kingdom of Ireland later joined this union to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland changed its name to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927 to reflect its reduced territory following the secession of southern Ireland as the Irish Free State in 1922.

Throughout these changes, England (including Wales) retained a separate legal identity from its partners, with a separate legal system (English law) from those in Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland law) and Scotland (Scots law). (See subdivisions of the United Kingdom)

Wales had already been made part of the Kingdom of England by the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, and it was legally incorporated into England by the Wales and Berwick Act 1746, making laws passed in England automatically applicable to Wales. This was reversed by the Welsh Language Act 1967, which thus effectively gave Wales a separate identity from England. Since then, legal and political terminology refers to "England and Wales". The county of Monmouthshire has long been an ambiguous area, its legal identity passing between England and Wales at various periods. In the Local Government Act 1972 it was made part of Wales.

The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 also referred to the formerly Scottish burgh of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The border town changed hands several times and was last conquered by England in 1482, but was not officially incorporated into England. Contention about whether Berwick was in England or Scotland was ended by the union of the two in 1707. Berwick remains within the English legal system and so is regarded today as part of England though there has been some suggestion in Scotland that Berwick should be invited to 'return to the fold'.

The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are Crown dependencies and are not part of England or of the United Kingdom.


II. There has not been a Government of England since 1707, when the Kingdom of England merged with the Kingdom of Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, although both kingdoms have been ruled by a single monarch since 1603. Before the Acts of Union of 1707, England was ruled by a monarch and the Parliament of England.

Following the establishment of devolved government for Scotland and Wales in 1999, England was left as the only country within the United Kingdom still governed in all matters by the UK government and the UK parliament in London. (Those, like Mebyon Kernow, who claim that Cornwall should be viewed as having a distinct national identity and who campaign for a Cornish assembly along Welsh lines may dispute this claim.)

Since Westminster is the UK parliament but also legislates on matters that affect England alone, devolution of national matters to parliament/assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has refocused attention on the anomaly called the West Lothian question. The "Question" is that Scottish and Welsh MPs continue to be able to vote on legislation relating only to England in the post devolution era while English MPs have no equivalent right to legislate on devolved matters. (Of course, Scottish and Welsh MPs are also unable to vote on devolved issues affecting their own constituencies.) This 'problem' is exacerbated by an over-representation of Scottish MPs in the government, sometimes referred to as the Scottish mafia; as of September 2006, seven of the twenty-three Cabinet members represent Scottish constituencies, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Defence Secretary. In addition, Scotland traditionally benefited from moderate malapportionment in its favour, increasing its representation to a degree disproportionate to its population. In 2004 the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004 was passed which rectified this to a degree, reducing the number of MPs representing Scottish constituencies from 73 to 59 and brought the number of voters per constituency closer to that in England. This change was implemented in the 2005 General Election.

There are calls for a devolved English Parliament, and certain English parties go further by calling for the dissolution of the Union entirely. However, the approach favoured by the current Labour government was (on the basis that England is too large to be governed as a single sub-state entity) to propose the devolution of power to the Regions of England. Lord Falconer claimed a devolved English parliament would dwarf the rest of the United Kingdom.

In terms of national administration, therefore, England's affairs are managed by a combination of the UK government, the UK parliament and England-specific quangos such as English Heritage.

III. 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 24-statute mile (52 km or 21 nautical mile) sea gap. The Channel Tunnel, near Folkestone, directly links England to the European mainland. The English/French border is halfway along the tunnel.

Much of England consists of rolling hills, but it is generally more mountainous in the north with a chain of low mountains, the Pennines, dividing east and west. Other hilly areas in the north and Midlands are the Lake District, the North York Moors, and the Peak District. The approximate dividing line between terrain types is often indicated by the Tees-Exe line. To the south of that line, there are larger areas of flatter land, including East Anglia and the Fens, although hilly areas include the Cotswolds, the Chilterns, the North and South Downs, Dartmoor and Exmoor.

The largest natural harbour in England is at Poole, on the south-central coast. Some regard it as the second largest harbour in the world, after Sydney, Australia, although this fact is disputed (see harbours for a list of other large natural harbour).


IV. England has a temperate climate, with plentiful rainfall all year round, although the seasons are quite variable in temperature. However, temperatures rarely fall below −5 °C (23 °F) or rise above 30 °C (86 °F). The prevailing wind is from the south-west, bringing mild and wet weather to England regularly from the Atlantic Ocean. It is driest in the east and warmest in the south, which is closest to the European mainland. Snowfall can occur in winter and early spring, although it is not that common away from high ground.

The highest temperature recorded in England is 38.5 °C (101.3 °F) on August 10, 2003 at Brogdale, near Faversham, in Kent. The lowest temperature recorded in England is −26.1 °C (−15.0 °F) on January 10, 1982 at Edgmond, near Newport, in Shropshire.


V. England's economy is the second largest in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. It follows the Anglo-Saxon economic model. England's economy is the largest of the four economies of the United Kingdom, with 100 of Europe's 500 largest corporations based in London. As part of the United Kingdom, England is a major centre of world economics. One of the world's most highly industrialised countries, England is a leader in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors and in key technical industries, particularly aerospace, the arms industry and the manufacturing side of the software industry.

London exports mainly manufactured goods and imports materials such as petroleum, tea, wool, raw sugar, timber, butter, metals, and meat. England exported more than 30,000 tons of beef last year, worth around £75,000,000, with France, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain being the largest importers of beef from England.

The central bank of the United Kingdom, which sets interest rates and implements monetary policy, is the Bank of England in London. London is also home to the London Stock Exchange, the main stock exchange in the UK and the largest in Europe. London is one of the international leaders in finance and the largest financial centre in Europe.

Traditional heavy and manufacturing industries have declined sharply in England in recent decades, as they have in the United Kingdom as a whole. At the same time, service industries have grown in importance. For example, tourism is the sixth largest industry in the UK, contributing 76 billion pounds to the economy. It employs 1,800,000 full-time equivalent people6.1% of the working population (2002 figures). The largest centre for tourism is London, which attracts millions of international tourists every year.

As part of the United Kingdom, England's official currency is the Pound Sterling (also known as the British pound or GBP).

VI. With 50,431,700 inhabitants, or 84% of the UK's total, England is the most populous nation in the United Kingdom; as well as being the most ethnically diverse. England would have the fourth largest population in the European Union and would be the 25th largest country by population if it were a sovereign state.

The country's population is 'ageing', with a declining percentage of the population under age 16 and a rising one of over 65. Population continues to rise and in every year since 1901, with the exception of 1976, there have been more births than d

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