|The UK – United Kingdom – consists
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain comprises
England, Scotland and Wales.
• England is the largest country of the UK, with some
50 million people. It is mainly a lowland country, with some
upland areas in the north and west. Major cities include London
(about 7.1 million people), Birmingham (about 1.0 million)
and Manchester (about 430,000). The economy is increasingly
service-based, and London is one of the world’s leading
centres for banking, insurance and other financial services.
High-tech industries have replaced many of the more traditional
• In Scotland, a mere 5.1 million people live in an
area not much smaller than England. The country boasts vast
open spaces and is one of the last areas of unspoiled natural
beauty in Europe, featuring mountains, lochs (lakes) and glens
(valleys). Global enterprises including microelectronics and
biotechnology, as well as fishing and forestry, drive Scotland’s
economy. The largest cities are Glasgow (about 578,000 people)
and Edinburgh (about 450,000).
• Wales is home to three million people, and its geography
is characterised by coastline, mountains and lakes. Cardiff
is the largest city, with over 300,000 people. Key growth
industries in Wales include electronics, auto components,
food processing, health care, and financial and professional
services. More Japanese companies have set up shop in Wales
than anywhere else in Europe.
• About 1.7 million people live in Northern Ireland,
and of these about 280,000 live in Belfast, the largest city.
Residents of Northern Ireland enjoy beautiful countryside
and a lower cost of living than those on the mainland. Many
new hotels are springing up to cater for increasing numbers
of tourists and business travellers.