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Motto: Dieu et mon droit  (French)
"God and my right"[1][2]
Anthem: None (de jure)
God Save the King (de facto)
and largest city
51°30′N 0°7′W / 51.5°N 0.117°W / 51.5; -0.117
Official languages English (de facto)
Ethnic groups (2021)
Demonym English
Government Non-devolved state within a constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Charles III
 -  Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Legislature Parliament of the United Kingdom
 -  Total 130,395 km2
50,346 sq mi 
 -  2021 census 56,489,800[3]
 -  Density 434/km2
1,124.1/sq mi
Currency Pound sterling (GBP)
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
 -  Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Date format d/m/yy (AD)
Drives on the left
Calling code 44
Patron saint Saint George
Internet TLD .uk[4]

England is a constituency country of the United Kingdom.[5][6][7] It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the North Sea to the east, with the English Channel to the south separating it from continental Europe. Most of England comprises the central and southern part of the island of Great Britain in the North Atlantic. The country also includes over 100 smaller islands such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

The area now called England has been settled by people of various cultures for about 35,000 years,[8] but it takes its name from the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes who settled during the 5th and 6th centuries. England became a unified state in AD 927, and since the Age of Discovery, which began during the 15th century, has had a significant cultural and legal impact on the wider world.[9] The English language, the Anglican Church, and English law—the basis for the common law legal systems of many other countries around the world—developed in England, and the country's parliamentary system of government has been widely adopted by other nations.[10] The Industrial Revolution began in 18th-century England, transforming its society into the world's first industrialised nation.[11] England's Royal Society laid the foundations of modern experimental science.[12]

England's terrain mostly comprises low hills and plains, especially in central and southern England. However, there are uplands in the north (for example, the mountainous Lake District, Pennines, and Yorkshire Dales) and in the south west (for example, Dartmoor and the Cotswolds). London, England's capital, is the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. England's population is about 51 million, around 84% of the population of the United Kingdom, and is largely concentrated in London, the South East and conurbations in the Midlands, the North West, the North East and Yorkshire, which developed as major industrial regions during the 19th century. Meadowlands and pastures are found beyond the major cities.

The Kingdom of England—which after 1284 included Wales—was a sovereign state until 1 May 1707, when the Acts of Union put into effect the terms agreed in the Treaty of Union the previous year, resulting in a political union with the Kingdom of Scotland to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain.[13] In 1801, Great Britain was united with Ireland through another Act of Union to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922 the Irish Free State was established as a separate dominion, but the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act in 1927 reincorporated into the kingdom Northern Ireland to officially create the current United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


The name "England" is derived from the Old English word Englaland, which means "land of the Angles". The Angles were one of the Germanic tribes that settled in England during the Early Middle Ages. The Angles came from the Angeln peninsula in the Bay of Kiel area of the Baltic Sea.[14] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known use of "England" to refer to the southern part of the island of Great Britain occurs in 897, and its modern spelling was first used in 1538.[15] The earliest attested mention of the name occurs in the 1st century work by Tacitus, Germania, in which the Latin word Anglii is used.[16] The etymology of the tribal name itself is disputed by scholars; it has been suggested that it derives from the shape of the Angeln peninsula, an angular shape.[17]

An alternative name for England is Albion. The name Albion originally referred to the entire island of Great Britain. The earliest record of the name appears in the Aristotelian Corpus, specifically the 4th century BC De Mundo:[18] "Beyond the Pillars of Hercules is the ocean that flows round the earth. In it are two very large islands called Britannia; these are Albion and Ierne".[18] The word Albion (Ἀλβίων) or insula Albionum has two possible origins. It either derives from the Latin albus meaning white, a reference to the white cliffs of Dover, which is the first view of Britain from the European Continent.[19] An alternative origin is suggested by the ancient merchant's handbook Massaliote Periplus which mentions an "island of the Albiones".[20] Albion is now applied to England in a more poetic capacity.[21] Another romantic name for England is Loegria, related to the Welsh Lloegr, which is derived from Arthurian legend. Outside of the British Isles and former British Empire, the term "England" is incorrectly, but sometimes popularly, applied to the entire United Kingdom.


Prehistory and antiquity

The oldest proto-human bones discovered in the area date from 700,000 years ago. The discovery, of Homo erectus remains, was made in what is today Norfolk and Suffolk.[22] Modern humans first arrived in the area around 35,000 years ago;[8] but due to the tough conditions of the Last Ice Age, known specifically in this area as the Devensian glaciation,[23] they fled from Britain to the mountains of southern Europe. Only large mammals such as mammoths, bison and woolly rhinoceros remained.[8] Roughly 11,000 years ago, when the ice sheets began to recede, humans repopulated the area; genetic research suggests they came from the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula.[24] The sea level was lower than now, and Britain was connected by land to both Ireland and Eurasia. As the seas rose, it was separated from Ireland 9,000 years ago and from Eurasia half a century later.[25]

Beaker culture arrived around 2500 BC, and the making of food vessels constructed out of clay and copper was introduced.[26] It was during this time that major Neolithic monuments such as Stonehenge and Avebury were constructed. By heating together tin and copper, both of which were in abundance in the area, the Beaker culture people were able to make bronze, and later iron from iron ores. They were able to spin and weave sheep's wool, from which they made clothing.[26]

During the Iron Age, Celtic culture, deriving from the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures, arrived from Central Europe. The development of iron smelting allowed the construction of better ploughs, advancing agriculture (for instance, with Celtic fields), as well as the production of more effective weapons.[26] Brythonic was the spoken language during this time. Society was tribal; according to Ptolemy's Geographia there were around 20 different tribes in the area, however earlier divisions are unknown because the Britons were not literate. Like other regions on the edge of the Empire, Britain had long enjoyed trading links with the Romans. Julius Caesar of the Roman Republic attempted to invade twice in 55 BC; although largely unsuccessful, he managed to set up a client king from the Trinovantes.

The Romans conquered Britain in AD 43 during the reign of Emperor Claudius, and the area was incorporated into the Roman Empire as Britannia province.[27] The best known of the native tribes who attempted to resist were the Catuvellauni led by Caratacus. Later, an uprising led by Boudica, queen of the Iceni, resulted in her death at the Battle of Watling Street.[28] This era saw a Greco-Roman high culture prevail with the introduction of law and order, Roman architecture, personal hygiene, sewage systems, education, many agricultural items, and silk.[28] In the 3rd century, Emperor Septimius Severus died at York, where Constantine was subsequently proclaimed emperor.[29] Christianity was first introduced around this time, though there are traditions linked to Glastonbury claiming an introduction through Joseph of Arimathea, while others claim through Lucius of Britain.[30] By 410, as their Empire declined, the Romans had left the island, to defend their frontiers in continental Europe.[28]

Middle Ages

Main article: Middle Ages
Anglo-Saxon homelands and settlements

Following the Roman flight, Britain was left open to conquest by pagan, seafaring Germanic warriors such as Saxons and Jutes who gained control in areas around the south east.[31] The advance was contained for a while after the Britons' victory at the Battle of Mount Badon. The Sub-Roman Brythonic kingdoms in the north, later known collectively by British bards as the Hen Ogledd, were also gradually conquered by Angles during the 6th century. Reliable contemporary accounts from this period are scarce, as is archaeological evidence, giving rise to its description as a Dark Age. There are various conflicting theories on the extent and process of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain; Cerdic, founder of the Wessex dynasty, may have been a Briton.[32] Nevertheless, by the 7th century a coherent set of Anglo-Saxon petty kingdoms known as the Heptarchy had emerged in southern and central Britain: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex.[33]

Christianity was introduced in the south by Augustine from Rome and in the north by Aidan from Ireland. This reintroduced Christianity, which was lost after the founding of the Heptarchy.[34] The title Bretwalda, meaning "Lord of the Britons", denoted the most influential kingship.[35] Northumbria and Mercia were the most dominant forces early on.[36] However, following Viking conquests in the north and east, and the imposition of Danelaw, the premier English kingdom became Wessex under Alfred the Great. His grandson Athelstan unified England in 927, although this was only cemented after Edred defeated the Viking Eric Bloodaxe. King Cnut the Great briefly incorporated England into an empire which also included Denmark and Norway.[37] However the Wessex dynasty was restored under Edward the Confessor.

England was conquered in 1066 by an army led by William the Conquerer from the Duchy of Normandy, a fief of the Kingdom of France.[38] The Normans themselves originated from Scandinavia and had settled in Normandy a few centuries earlier.[38] They introduced feudalism and maintained power through barons, who set up castles across England.[38] The spoken language of the new aristocratic elite was Norman French, which would have considerable influence on the English language.

The House of Plantagenet from Anjou inherited the English throne under Henry II, adding England to the budding Angevin Empire of fiefs the family had inherited in France including Aquitaine.[39] They reigned for three centuries, proving noted monarchs such as Richard I, Edward I, Edward III and Henry V.[39] The period saw changes in trade and legislation, including the signing of the Magna Carta, an English legal charter used to limit the sovereign's powers by law and protect the privileges of freemen.[38] Catholic monasticism flourished, providing philosophers and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge were founded with royal patronage. The Principality of Wales became a Plantagenet fief during the 13th century[40] and the Lordship of Ireland was gifted to the English monarchy by the Pope.

During the 14th century, the Plantagenets and House of Valois both claimed to be legitimate claimants to House of Capet and with it France—the two powers clashed in the Hundred Years' War.[41] The Black Death epidemic hit England, starting in 1348, it eventually killed up to half of England's inhabitants.[42][43] From 1453 to 1487 civil war between two branches of the royal family occurred—the Yorkists and Lancastrians—known as the Wars of the Roses.[44] Eventually it led to the Yorkists losing the throne entirely to a Welsh noble family the Tudors, a branch of the Lancastrians headed by Henry Tudor who invaded with Welsh and Breton mercenaries, gaining victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field where the Yorkist king Richard III was killed.[45]

Early Modern

The Tudor period would prove to be eventful.[46] The Renaissance reached England through Italian courtiers, who reintroduced artistic, educational and scholary debate from classical antiquity.[46] During this time England began to develop naval skills, including inventing the theodolite and exploring to the West.[46] The catalyst for such explorations, was the Ottoman Empire's control of the Mediterranean Sea, which blocked off trade with the East for the Christian states of Europe.[46]

Henry VIII broke from communion with the Catholic Church, over issues relating to divorce, under the Acts of Supremacy in 1534 which proclaimed the monarch head of the Church of England. Contrary to much of European Protestantism, the roots of the split were more political than theological.{{#tag:ref|As Roger Scruton explains, "The Reformation must not be confused with the changes introduced into the Church of England during the 'Reformation Parliament' of 1529–36, which were of a political rather than a religious nature, designed to unite the secular and religious sources of authority within a single sovereign power: the Anglican Church did not until later make substantial change in doctrine".[47] Tudor also legally incorporated his ancestral land Wales into the Kingdom of England with the 1535–1542 acts. There were internal religious conflicts during the reigns of Henry's daughters; Mary I and Elizabeth I. The former attempted to bring the country back to Catholicism, while the later broke from it again more forcefully asserting the supremacy of Anglicanism.[46]

An English fleet under Francis Drake defeated an invading Spanish Armada during the Elizabethan period. Competing with Spain, the first English colony in the Americas was founded by explorer Walter Raleigh in 1585 and named Virginia.[46] With the East India Company, England also competed with the Dutch and French to the East.[46] The nature of the island was changed, when the Stuart King of Scotland, from a kingdom which was previously a long time rival, inherited the throne of England—creating a personal union under James I in 1603.[48][49] He styled himself King of Great Britain, despite having no basis in English law.[50]

Based on conflicting political, religious and social positions, there was an English Civil War between the supporters of Parliament and those of king Charles I, known as Roundheads and Cavaliers respectively. This was an interwoven part of the wider multifacited Wars of the Three Kingdoms, involving Scotland and Ireland. The Parliamentarians were victorious, Charles I was executed and the kingdom replaced with the Commonwealth. Leader of the Parliament forces, Oliver Cromwell declared himself Lord Protector in 1653, a period of personal rule followed.[51] By the time of Cromwell's death, England had largely grown weary of Puritan rule, many wanted to patch up old wounds and so Charles II was invited to return as monarch in 1660 with the Restoration.[52] It was now constitutionally established that King and Parliament should rule together, though in practice this was not fully cemeted until the following century.[52] With the founding of the Royal Society, science and the arts were encouraged.[52]

The Great Fire of London in 1666 gutted the capital but it was rebuilt shortly after.[53] In Parliament two factions had emerged—the Tories and Whigs. The former were royalists while the latter were classical liberals. Though the Tories initially supported Catholic king James II, some of them, along with the Whigs deposed him at the Revolution of 1688 and invited Dutch prince William III to become monarch. Some English people, especially in the north were Jacobites and continued to support James and his sons. After the parliaments of England and Scotland both agreed,[54] the two countries joined in political union, to create the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.[48] To accommodate the union, institutions such as the law and national church of each remained separate.[55]

Late Modern and contemporary

Under the newly formed Kingdom of Great Britain, output from the Royal Society and other English initiatives combined with the Scottish Enlightenment to create innovations in science and engineering. This paved the way for the establishment of the British Empire, which became the largest in history.[52] Domestically it drove the Industrial Revolution, a period of profound change in the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of England, resulting in industrialised agriculture, manufacture, engineering and mining, as well as new and pioneering road, rail and water networks to facilitate their expansion and development.[52] The opening of northwest England's Bridgewater Canal in 1761 ushered in the canal age in Britain.[56][57] In 1825 the world's first permanent steam locomotive-hauled passenger railway—the Stockton and Darlington Railway—opened to the public.[56]

During the Industrial Revolution, many workers moved from England's countryside to new and expanding urban industrial areas to work in factories, for instance at Manchester and Birmingham, dubbed "Warehouse City" and "Workshop of the World" respectively.[58][59] England maintained relative stability throughout the French Revolution; William Pitt the Younger was British Prime Minister for the reign of George III. During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon Bonaparte planned to invade from the south-east. However this failed to manifest and the Napoleonic forces were defeated by the British at sea by Lord Nelson and on land by the Duke of Wellington.[52] The Napoleonic Wars fostered a concept of Britishness and a united national British people, shared with the Scots and Welsh.[60]

London became the largest and most populous metropolitan area in the world during the Victorian era, and trade within the British Empire—as well as the standing of the British military and navy—was prestigious.[61] Political agitation at home from radicals such as the Chartists and the suffragettes enabled legislative reform and universal suffrage.[52] Power shifts in east-central Europe led to World War I; thousands of English soldiers died in trenches fighting for the United Kingdom as part of the Allies.[62] Two decades later, in World War II, the United Kingdom again fought for the Allies. Winston Churchill was the wartime Prime Minister.[63] Developments in warfare technology saw many cities damaged by air-raids during The Blitz.[63] Following the war the British Empire experienced rapid decolonisation, as well as a series of technological innovations—automobiles became the primary means of transport and Whittle's development of the jet engine led to wider air travel.[63]

Since the 20th century there has been significant population movement to England, mostly from other parts of the British Isles, but also from the Commonwealth, particularly the Indian subcontinent.[64] Since the 1970s there has been a large move away from manufacturing and an increasing emphasis on the service industry.[65] As part of the United Kingdom, the area joined a common market initiative called the European Economic Community which became the European Union. Since the late 20th century the administration of the United Kingdom has moved towards devolved governance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.[66] England and Wales continues to exist as a legal entity within the United Kingdom.[67] Devolution has stimulated a greater emphasis on a more English-specific identity and patriotism.[68][69] There is no devolved English government, but an attempt to create a similar system on a sub-regional basis was rejected by referendum.



As part of the United Kingdom, the basic political system in England is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. There has not been a Government of England since 1707, when the Acts of Union 1707, putting into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union, joined England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.[54] Before the union England was ruled by its monarch and the Parliament of England. Today England is governed directly by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, although other countries of the United Kingdom have devolved governments.[70] In the House of Commons which is the lower house of the British Parliament based at the Palace of Westminster, there are 529 Members of Parliament for constituencies in England, out of the 646 total.[71]

In the United Kingdom general election, 2005 the Labour Party had the most MPs elected in England with 284, while the Conservative Party had 194 MPs elected although they received a larger percentage of the popular vote than any other party with 35.7%.[72] The third largest party are the Liberal Democrats who had 47 MPs elected. Respect and Health Concern each have one MP, and there is an Independent Labour member originally elected for Labour.[72] The two largest parties are led by Gordon Brown for Labour and David Cameron for the Conservatives.

As the United Kingdom is a member of the European Union, there are elections held regionally in England to decide who is sent as Members of the European Parliament. The 2009 European Parliament election saw the regions of England elect the following MEPs: twenty-three Conservatives, ten Labour, nine United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), nine Liberal Democrats, two Greens and two British National Party (BNP).[73]

Since devolution, in which other countries of the United Kingdom—Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—each have their own devolved parliament or assemblies for local issues, there has been debate about how to counterbalance this in England. Originally it was planned that various regions of England would be devolved, but following the proposal's rejection by the North East in a referendum, this has not been carried out.

One major issue is the West Lothian question, in which MPs from Scotland and Wales are able to vote on legislation affecting only England, while English MPs have no equivalent right to legislate on devolved matters.[74] This when placed in the context of England being the only country of the United Kingdom not to have free cancer treatment, prescriptions, residential care for the elderly and free top-up university fees,[75] has led to a steady rise in English nationalism.[76] Some have suggested the creation of a devolved English parliament,[77] while others have proposed simply limiting voting on legislation which only affects England to English MPs.[78]


The English law legal system, developed over the centuries, is the foundation of many legal systems throughout the Anglosphere.[79] Despite now being part of the United Kingdom, the legal system of the Courts of England and Wales continued as a separate legal system to the one used in Scotland as part of the Treaty of Union. The general essence of English law is that it is made by judges sitting in courts, applying their common sense and knowledge of legal precedentstare decisis—to the facts before them.[80]

The court system is headed by the Supreme Court of Judicature, consisting of the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Justice for civil cases and the Crown Court for criminal cases.[81] The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the highest court for criminal and civil cases in England and Wales, it was created in 2009 after constitutional changes, taking over the judicial functions of the House of Lords.[82] A decision of the highest appeal court in England and Wales, the Supreme Court, is binding on every other court in the hierarchy, which follow its directions.[83]

Crime increased between 1981–1995, though since then there has been 42% fall in crime for the period 1995–2006.[84] The prison population doubled over the same period, giving it the highest incarceration rate in Western Europe at 147 per 100,000.[85] Her Majesty's Prison Service reporting to the Ministry of Justice, manages most prisons, housing over 80,000 convicts.[85]


Landscape and rivers

Geographically England comprises the central and southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain, plus such offshore islands as the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly. It is bordered by two fellow countries of the United Kingdom—to the north by Scotland and to the west by Wales. England is closer to the European Continent than any other part of mainland Britain. It is separated from France by a 34 km[86] sea gap, though the two countries are connected by the Channel Tunnel near Folkestone.[87][88] As England is on an island, is it surrounded by the water of the Irish Sea, North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

The most important rivers in England, because of their ports of London, Liverpool, and Newcastle, are the tidal rivers Thames, Mersey and Tyne.[89] The tides raise the level of water in their estuaries and enable ships to enter the ports. At 354 km, the Severn is the longest river flowing through England. It empties into the Bristol Channel and is notable for its Severn Bore tidal waves, which can reach 2m in height.[89] However, the longest river entirely in England is the Thames, which is 346 km in length.[90] There are many lakes in England but the majority are in the aptly named Lake District; the largest of which is Lake Windermere, it is known by the nickname "Queen of Lakes".[89]

In geological terms, the Pennines, known as the "backbone of England", are the oldest range of mountains the country, originating from the end of the Paleozoic Era around 300 million years ago.[91] The total length of the Pennines is 400 km, peaking at Cross Fell in Cumbria.[89] The material of which they are composed is mostly sandstone and limestone, but also coal. There are karst landscapes in calcite areas such as parts of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The Pennine landscape is high moorland in upland areas, indented by fertile valleys of the region's rivers.[89] They contain three national parks, the Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland, and the Peak District. The highest point in England, at 978 m, is Scafell Pike in Cumbria.[89] Straddling the border between England and Scotland are the Cheviot Hills.

The English Lowlands are to the south of the Pennines, consisting of green rolling hills, including the Cotswold Hills, Chiltern Hills, North and South Downs—where they meet the sea they form white rock exposures such as the cliffs of Dover.[89] The granitic Southwest Peninsula in the West Country provides upland moorland, such as Dartmoor and Exmoor, which flourish with a mild climate; both are national parks.[89]


England has a temperate maritime climate meaning that it is mild with temperatures not much lower than 0°C in winter and not much higher than 32°C in summer.[92] The weather is damp relatively frequently and is subject to change. The coldest months are January and February, the latter particularly on the English coast, while July is normally the warmest month. Months with mild to warm weather with least rainfall are May, June, September and October.[92]

The biggest influences on the climate of England comes from the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, its northern latitude and warming of the waters around the Gulf Stream.[92] England receives quite a significant proportion of rainfall during the year, with autumn and winter being the wettest time—geographically the Lake District receives more rain than anywhere else in the country.[92] Since weather recording records began, the highest temperature received was 38.5°C on 10 August 2003 at Brogdale in Kent,[93] while the lowest was −26.1°C on 10 January 1982 in Edgmond, Shropshire.[94]

Major conurbations

The Greater London Urban Area is by far the largest metropolitan area in England[95] and one of the busiest cities in the world. It is considered a global city and has a population larger than other countries in the United Kingdom besides England itself.[95] Other urban areas of considerable size and influence tend to be in northern England or the English Midlands.[95] There are fifty settlements which have been designated city status in England, while the wider United Kingdom has sixty-six.

While many cities in England are quite large in size, such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Bradford, Nottingham and others, a large population is not necessarily a prerequisite for a settlement to be afforded city status.[96] Traditionally the status was afforded to towns with diocesan cathedrals and so there are smaller cities like Wells, Ely, Ripon, Truro and Chichester.[96] According to the Office for National Statistics the ten largest, continuous built-up urban areas are;[95]

Rank Urban Area Population Localities Major localities
1 Greater London Urban Area 8,278,251 67 Greater London, divided into the City of London and 32 London boroughs including Croydon, Barnet, Ealing, Bromley[97]
2 West Midlands Urban Area 2,284,093 22 Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall
3 Greater Manchester Urban Area 2,240,230 57 Manchester, Salford, Bolton, Stockport, Oldham
4 West Yorkshire Urban Area 1,499,465 26 Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield
5 Tyneside 879,996 25 Newcastle, North Shields, South Shields, Gateshead, Jarrow
6 Liverpool Urban Area 816,216 8 Liverpool, St Helens, Bootle, Huyton-with-Roby
7 Nottingham Urban Area 666,358 15 Nottingham, Beeston and Stapleford, Carlton, Long Eaton
8 Sheffield Urban Area 640,720 7 Sheffield, Rotherham, Chapeltown, Mosborough
9 Bristol Urban Area 551,066 7 Bristol, Kingswood, Mangotsfield, Stoke Gifford
10 Brighton/Worthing/Littlehampton 461,181 10 Brighton, Worthing, Hove, Littlehampton, Shoreham, Lancing


The economy of England is one of the largest in in the world, with an average GDP per capita of £22,907.[98] Usually regarded as a mixed market economy, it has adopted many free market principles in contrast to the Rhine Capitalism of Europe, yet maintains an advanced social welfare infrastructure.[99] The official currency in England is the pound sterling, also known as the GBP. Taxation in England is quite competitive when compared to much of the rest of Europe—as of 2009 the basic rate of personal tax is 20% on taxable income up to £37,400, and 40% on any additional earnings above that amount.[100]

The economy of England is the largest part of the UK's economy,[98] which has the 18th highest GDP PPP per capita in the world. 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, home to the London Stock Exchange, the UK's main stock exchange and the largest in Europe, is England's financial centre—100 of Europe's 500 largest corporations are based in London.[101] London is the largest financial centre in Europe, and as of 2009 is also the largest in the world.[102]

The Bank of England, founded in 1694 by Scottish banker William Paterson, is the UK's central bank. Originally instituted to act as private banker to the Government of England, it carried on in this role as part of the United Kingdom—since 1946 it has been a state-owned institution.[103] The Bank has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales, although not in other parts of the United Kingdom. Its Monetary Policy Committee has devolved responsibility for managing the monetary policy of the country and setting interest rates.[104]

England is highly industrialised, but since the 1970s there has been a decline in traditional heavy and manufacturing industries, and an increasing emphasis on a more service industry oriented economy.[65] Tourism has become a significant industry, attracting millions of visitors to England each year. The export part of the economy is dominated by pharmaceuticals, automobiles—although many English marques are now foreign-owned, such as Rolls-Royce, Lotus, Jaguar and Bentleycrude oil and petroleum from the English parts of North Sea Oil along with Wytch Farm, aircraft engines and alcoholic beverages.[105] Agriculture is intensive and highly mechanised, producing 60% of food needs with only 2% of the labour force.[106] Two thirds of production is devoted to livestock, the other to arable crops.[107]



With over 51 million inhabitants, England is the most populous country of the United Kingdom, accounting for 84% of the combined total.[108] England taken as a unit and measured against international states has the fourth largest population in the European Union and would be the 25th largest country by population in the world.[109] With a density of 395 people per square kilometre, it would be the second most densely populated country in the European Union after Malta.[110][111]

There is a significant Norse element in the English people, as well as a significant contribution from Angles and Saxons, geneticists place the estimate of Germanic peoples at 50%.[112][113] Over time various cultures have been influential—Prehistoric, Brythonic,[114] Roman, Anglo-Saxon,Norse Viking,[115] Gaelic cultures, as well as a large influence from Normans. There is an English diaspora in former parts of the British Empire; especially the United States, Canada, Australia, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand.{{#tag:ref|For instance, in 1980 around 50 million Americans claimed English ancestry.[116] In Canada there are around 6.5 million Canadians who claim English ancestry.[117] Around 70% of Australians in 1999 denoted their origins as Anglo-Celtic—a category which includes all peoples from Great Britain and Ireland.[118] Chileans of English descent are somewhat of an anomaly in that Chile itself was never part of the British Empire, but today there are around 420,000 people of English origins living there.[119] Since the late 1990s, English people have migrated to Spain.[120][121]

At the time of the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086, more than 90% of the English population of about two million lived in the countryside.[122] By 1801 the population had grown to 8.3 million, and by 1901 had grown to 30.5 million.[123] Due to the economic prosperity in South East England there are many economic migrants from the other parts of the United Kingdom. There has been significant Irish migration, with 25% of English people having Irish ancestry. The European population totals at 89.90%, including Germans and Poles.

Other people from much further afield in the former British colonies have arrived since the 1950s—5.30% of people living in England have migrated from the Indian subcontinent, mostly India and Pakistan.[124] 2.30% of the population are black, mostly from the Caribbean. There is a significant number of Chinese and British Chinese. As of 2007, 22% of primary school children in England were from ethnic minority families.[125] About half of the population increase between 1991–2001 was due to foreign-born immigration.[126] Debate over immigration is politically prominent,[127] according to a Home Office poll 80% of people want to cap it.[128] The ONS has projected that the population will grow by six million between 2004 and 2029.[129]


Main article: English language

As its name suggests, the English language, today spoken by hundreds of millions of people around the world, originated as the language of England, where it remains the principal tongue today. An Indo-European language in the Anglo-Frisian branch of the Germanic family, it is closely related to Scots.[130] After the Norman conquest, the Old English language was displaced and confined to the lower social classes as Norman French and Latin were used by the aristocracy. By the 17th century, English came back into fashion among all classes, though much changed; the Middle English form showed many signs of French influence, both in vocabulary and spelling. During the English Renaissance, many words were coined from Latin and Greek origins.[131] Modern English has extended this custom of flexibility, when it comes to incorporating words from different languages. Thanks in large part to the British Empire, the English language is the world's unofficial lingua franca.[132]

English language learning and teaching is an important economic activity, and includes language schooling, tourism spending, and publishing. There is no legislation mandating an official language for England,[133] but English is the only language used for official business. Despite the country's relatively small size, there are many distinct regional accents, and individuals with particularly strong accents may not be easily understood everywhere in the country. State schools teach students a second language, usually French, German or Spanish.[134] Due to immigration, it was reported in 2007 that around 800,000 school students spoke a foreign language at home,[125] the most common being Punjabi and Urdu.[135]


Universities and learning institutions

The body responsible for state education in general up to the age of 19, in the United Kingdom is the Department for Children, Schools and Families—this body directly controls state schools in England.[136] Funded through taxation state-run schools are attended by approximately 93% of English schoolchildren.[137] There is a minority of faith schools, mostly Church of England or Catholic Church. Between three and four is nursery school, four and eleven is primary school, and eleven to sixteen is secondary school, with an option for a two-year extension to attend sixth form college.

Although most English secondary schools are comprehensive, there are selective intake grammar schools, to which entrance is subject to passing the eleven plus exam. Around 7.2% of English schoolchildren attend private schools, which are funded by private sources.[138] Standards are monitored by regular inspections of state-funded schools by the Office for Standards in Education and of private schools by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.[139]

After finishing compulsory education, pupils take a GCSE examination, following which they may decide to continue in further education and attend a further education college. Students normally enter universities in the United Kingdom from 18 onwards, where they study for an academic degree. England has more than 90 state-funded universities, which are monitored by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.[140] Students are generally entitled to student loans for maintenance.{{#tag:ref|Students attending English universities now have to pay tuition fees towards the cost of their education, as do English students who choose to attend university in Scotland. Scottish students attending Scottish universities have their fees paid by the devolved Scottish Parliament. The first degree offered to undergraduates is the Bachelor's degree, which usually takes three years to complete. Students are then eligible for a postgraduate degree, a Master's degree, taking one year, or a Doctorate degree, which takes three.

England has a history of promoting education, and its top institutions are internationally respected.[141] The most acclaimed English universities are Oxford and Cambridge. These two "ancient universities" have many common features and are nowadays known as Oxbridge. The King's School, Canterbury and The King's School, Rochester are the oldest schools in the English-speaking world.[142] Many of England's more well-known schools, such as Winchester College, Eton College, St Paul's School, Rugby School, and Harrow School are fee-paying institutions.[143]

Science, engineering and innovation

Prominent English figures from the field of science and mathematics include Sir Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Joseph Priestley, J. J. Thomson, Charles Babbage, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, Christopher Wren, Alan Turing, Francis Crick, Joseph Lister, Tim Berners-Lee, Andrew Wiles and Richard Dawkins. Experts claim that the earliest concept of a metric system was invented by John Wilkins, first secretary of the Royal Society in 1668.[144] As birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, England was home to many significant inventors during the late 18th and early 19th century. Famous English engineers include Isambard Kingdom Brunel, best known for the creation of the Great Western Railway, a series of famous steamships, and numerous important bridges, hence revolutionising public transport and modern-day engineering.[145]

Inventions and discoveries of the English include; the first industrial spinning machine, the first computer and the first modern computer, the World Wide Web along with HTTP and HTML, the first successful human blood transfusion, the vacuum cleaner, the lawnmower, the seat belt, the hovercraft, the electric motor, the microphone, steam engines, and theories such as the Darwinian theory of evolution and atomic theory.[146] Newton developed the ideas of universal gravitation, mechanics, and infinitesimal calculus, and Robert Hooke his eponymously named law of elasticity. Other inventions include the iron plate railway, the thermosiphon, tarmac, the rubber band, the mousetrap, "cat's eye" road safety device, joint development of the light bulb, steam locomotives, the seed drill, the jet engine and many modern techniques and technologies used in precision engineering.[146]

National symbols

The national flag of England, known as St. George's Cross, has been the national flag since the 13th century. Originally the flag was used by the maritime state the Republic of Genoa. The English monarch paid a tribute to the Doge of Genoa from 1190 onwards, so that English ships could fly the flag as a means of protection when entering the Mediterranean. A red cross acted as a symbol for many Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries. It became associated with Saint George, along with countries and cities, which claimed him as their patron saint and used his cross as a banner.[147] Since 1606 the St George's Cross has formed part of the design of the Union Flag, a Pan-British flag designed by King James I.

There are numerous other symbols and symbolic artefacts, both official and unofficial, including the Tudor rose, the nation's floral emblem, the White Dragon and the Three Lions featured on the nation's coat of arms. The Tudor rose was adopted as a national emblem of England around the time of the Wars of the Roses as a symbol of peace.[148] It is a syncretic symbol in that it merged the white rose of the Yorkists and the red rose of the Lancastrians—cadet branches of the Plantagenets who went to war over control of the royal house. It is also known as the Rose of England.[149] The oak tree is a symbol of England, representing strength and endurance. The term Royal Oak is used to denote the escape of King Charles II from the grasps of the parliamentarians after his father's execution; he hid in an oak tree to avoid detection before making it safely into exile.

The national coat of arms of England, featuring three lions dates back to its adoption by Richard the Lionheart from 1198–1340. They are described as gules, three lions passant guardant or and provide one of the most prominent symbols of England; it is similar to the traditional arms of Normandy. England does not have an official designated national anthem, as the United Kingdom as a whole has God Save the Queen. However, the following are often considered unofficial English national anthems: Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory (used for England during the 2002 Commonwealth Games),[150] and I Vow to Thee, My Country. England's National Day is St George's Day, as Saint George is the patron saint of England, it is held annually on 23 April.[151]


  • We in England have come to that point when the continued advance and greatness of our nation is threatened by one cause. Far more than by the helplessness of an aristocracy whose day is fast coming to an end, far more than by the rawness of the lower class whose day is only just beginning, we are imperilled by what I call the Philistinism of our middle class. – Matthew Arnold, 1867

Further reading

  • Ackroyd, Peter (2000). London: the biography. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 1856197166. 
  • Arlotto, Anthony (1971). Introduction to historical linguistics. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0395126150. 
  • Atkinson, T.D. (2008). English Architecture. Read Books. ISBN 978-1409725817. 
  • Axford, Barrie (2002). Politics: an introduction. Routledge. ISBN 0415251818. 
  • Ball, Martin (1993). The Celtic Languages. Routledge. ISBN 0415010357. 
  • Bartlett, Robert (1999). England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings, 1075–1225. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199251010. 
  • Bennett, James (2004). The Anglosphere Challenge. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0742533336. 
  • Brewer, Ebenezer (2006). Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 1840223103. 
  • Briggs, Katharine (2004). A Dictionary of British Folk-tales in the English Language. Routledge. ISBN 0203397371. 
  • Chappell, William (1966). The Roxburghe Ballads. AMS Press. 
  • Clemoes, Peter (2007). Anglo-Saxon England, Volume 12. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521038340. 
  • Cole, George (1947). The Life of William Cobbett. Home & Van Thal. ISBN 0849221390. 
  • Colgrave, Bertram (1985). Two lives of Saint Cuthbert. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521313856. 
  • Colley, Linda (1992). Britons: Forging the Nation, 1701–1837. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300057379. 
  • Crofton, Ian (2007). The Kings and Queens of England. Quercus. ISBN 1847240658. 
  • Crystal, David (2004). The Stories of English. The Overlook Press. ISBN 1-58567-601-2. 
  • Downes, Kerry (2007). Christopher Wren. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199215243. 
  • Eccleshare, Julia (2002). Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter. National Portrait Gallery. ISBN 1855143429. 
  • Else, David (2007). Inghilterra. EDT srl. ISBN 978-8860401366. 
  • Encyclopædia Britannica (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 0559095899. 
  • Encyclopædia Britannica (2002). The New Encyclopædia Britannica. University of Michigan. ISBN 0852297874. 
  • Fafinski, Stefan (2007). English legal system. Pearson Education. ISBN 1405823585. 
  • Foreman, Susan (2005). London: a musical gazetteer. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300104022. 
  • Foster, Damon (1988). A Blake dictionary. UPNE. ISBN 0874514363. 
  • Fowler, Kenneth (1967). The Age of Plantagenet and Valois: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1328–1498. Putnam. ISBN 0236308327. 
  • Gallagher, Michael (2006). The United Kingdom Today. London: Franklin Watts. ISBN 9780749664886. 
  • Gearon, Liam (2002). Education in the United Kingdom. David Fulton. ISBN 1853467154. 
  • Goldberg, Jeremy (1996). "Introduction", in Mark Ormrod & P.G. Lindley: The Black Death in England. Paul Watkins. ISBN 1871615569. 
  • Green, Tamara (2003). The Greek & Latin roots of English. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0742514668. 
  • Hawkins-Dady, Mark (1996). Reader's guide to literature in English. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 1884964206. 
  • Heywood, Andrew (2007). Political Ideologies: An Introduction. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0230521797. 
  • Higham, NJ (2002). King Arthur: myth-making and history. Routledge. ISBN 0415213053. 
  • Kaufman, Will (2005). Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1851094318. 
  • Kirby, D.P. (2000). The earliest English kings. Routledge. ISBN 041524210X. 
  • Keary, Charles Francis (1882). Outlines of primitive belief among the Indo-European races. C Scribner's Sons. ISBN 0790549824. 
  • Koch, John (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1851094407. 
  • Lacy, Norris (1986). The Arthurian Encyclopedia. Garland Pub. ISBN 0824087453. 
  • Lax, Roger (1989). The Great Song Thesaurus. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195054083. 
  • Lowe, Roy (1971). The English school. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0710068824. 
  • Lyon, Bryce Dale (1960). A constitutional and legal history of medieval England. University of Michigan. ISBN 0393951324. 
  • Major, John (2004). History in Quotations. Cassell. ISBN 0304353876. 
  • Marden, Orison (2003). Home Lover's Library. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 076615324X. 
  • Massey, Gerald (2007). A Book of the Beginnings, Vol.1. Cosimo. ISBN 1602068291. 
  • (2000) A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Greater Manchester. Association for Industrial Archaeology. ISBN 0952893037. 
  • (2008) Beyond the Constitution? Englishness in a post-devolved Britain. Institute for Public Policy Research. 
  • Norbrook, David (2000). Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and Politics, 1627–1660. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521785693. 
  • O'Hanlon, Ardal (2008). Global Airlines. Elsevier. ISBN 0750664398. 
  • Office for National Statistics (2000). Britain 2001: The Official Handbook of the United Kingdom. London: Stationery Office Books. ISBN 978-0116212788. 
  • Oppenheimer, Stephen (2006). Origins of the British. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0786718900. 
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus (1942). An outline of European architecture. University of Michigan. ISBN 0140616136. 
  • Pollard, A.J. (2004). Imagining Robin Hood. Routledge. ISBN 0415223083. 
  • Rankov, Boris (1994). The Praetorian Guard. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1855323613. 
  • Redcliffe-Maud, John (1974). English Local Government Reformed. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198850913. 
  • Reitan, Earl Aaron (2003). The Thatcher Revolution. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0742522032. 
  • Ripley, George (1869). The New American Cyclopædia. D. Appleton. 
  • Rogers, Pat (2001). The Oxford illustrated history of English literature. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192854372. 
  • Room, Adrian (2006). Placenames of the World. McFarland. ISBN 0786422483. 
  • Rowse, Alfred (1971). Elizabethan Renaissance. Scribner. ISBN 0684126826. 
  • Scruton, Roger (1982). A dictionary of political thought. Macmillan. ISBN 0333334396. 
  • Singh, Udai (2009). Decentralized democratic governance in new millennium. Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 8180695409. 
  • Stradling, R.A. (1993). The English musical Renaissance, 1860–1940. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0415034930. 
  • UK Parliament (2007). Department for Transport annual report 2007. Stationery Office. ISBN 978-0101709521. 
  • Underdown, David (2000). Start of Play: Cricket and Culture in 18th century England. Allen Lane. ISBN 0713993308. 
  • Ward, Paul (2004). Britishness Since 1870. Routledge. ISBN 9780203494721. 
  • Warner, Charles (1902). Library of the world's best literature, ancient and modern. International society. ISBN 1605202029. 
  • Watson, John (1985). English poetry of the Romantic period, 1789–1830. Longman. ISBN 0582492599. 
  • Webster, Frederick (1937). Our great public schools: their traditions, customs and games. Ward, Lock & Co. 
  • West, Anne (2003). Underachievement in schools. Routledge. ISBN 9780415241328. 
  • White, Peter (2002). Public transport. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0415257727. 
  • Withington, Robert (2008). English Pageantry; An Historical Outline. Read Books. ISBN 978-1408680629. 
  • World Book (2007). The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 6. University of Michigan. ISBN 0716601028. 
  • Wright, Kevin J (2008). The Christian Travel Planner. Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 1401603742. 
  • Young, Robert JC (2008). The Idea of English Ethnicity. Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-0129-5. 
  • Ziegler, Philip (2003). The Black Death, New, Sutton: Sutton Publishing Ltd.. ISBN 978-0750932028. 

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