United Kingdom Travel Information

Photo United Kingdom, constitutional monarchy in northwestern Europe, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is the largest island in the cluster of islands, or archipelago, known as the British Isles. England is the largest and most populous division of the island of Great Britain, making up the south and east. Wales is on the west and Scotland is to the north. Northern Ireland is located in the northeast corner of Ireland, the second largest island in the British Isles. The capital of the United Kingdom is the city of London, situated near the southeastern tip of England.

The United Kingdom is a small nation in physical size. At 244,110 sq km (94,251 sq mi), the United Kingdom is roughly the size of Oregon or Colorado, or twice the size of New York State. It is located as far north in latitude as Labrador in North America, but, like the rest of northern Europe, it is warmed by the Gulf Stream flowing out of the North Atlantic Ocean. The climate, in general, is mild, chilly, and often wet. Rain or overcast skies can be expected for up to 300 days per year. These conditions make Britain lush and green, with rolling plains in the south and east and rough hills and mountains to the west and north.

Despite its relatively small size, Britain is highly populated, with an estimated population density of 245 persons per sq km (634 per sq mi) in 2002. It is highly developed economically, preeminent in the arts and sciences, sophisticated in technology, and highly prosperous and peaceful. In general, British subjects belong to one of the more affluent states of Europe and enjoy a high standard of living compared to the rest of the world.

The United Kingdom is one of the United States' closest allies, and British foreign policy emphasizes close coordination with the United States. Bilateral cooperation reflects the common language, ideals, and democratic practices of the two nations. Relations were strengthened by the U.K.'s alliance with the United States during both World Wars, and its role as a founding member of NATO, in the Korean conflict, and the Persian Gulf War. The United Kingdom and the United States continually consult on foreign policy issues and global problems and share major foreign and security policy objectives. In the United Nations, the U.K. is a permanent member of the Security Council.

The U.K. is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and has been a member of the European Community (now European Union) since 1973. The U.K. is one of NATO's major European maritime, air, and land powers and ranks third among NATO countries in total defense expenditure.
The British armed forces are charged with protecting the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories, promoting Britain's wider security interests, and supporting international peacekeeping efforts. The 44,000-member Royal Navy is in charge of the U.K.'s independent strategic nuclear arm, which consists of four Trident missile submarines. The Royal Marines provide commando units for amphibious assault and for specialist reinforcement forces in and beyond the NATO area.

Important: Travel to United Kingdom may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's United Kingdom visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Capital city: London
Area: 243,610 sq km
Population: 63,047,162
Ethnic groups: white
Languages: English
Religions: Christian
Government: constitutional monarchy and Commonwealth realm
Chief of State: Queen ELIZABETH II
Head of Government: Prime Minister David CAMERON
GDP: 2.288 trillion
GDP per captia: 36,500
Annual growth rate: 0.8%
Inflation: 4.5%
Agriculture: cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables
Major industries: machine tools, electric power equipment, automation equipment, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, electronics and communications equipment, metals, chemicals, coal, petroleum, paper and paper products, food processing, textiles, clothing, other consumer goods
Natural resources: coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, lead, zinc, gold, tin, limestone, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, potash, silica sand, slate, arable land
Location: Western Europe, islands - including the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland - between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea
Trade Partners - exports: Germany 10.9%, US 9.9%, Netherlands 7.9%, France 7.4%, Switzerland 7.1%, Ireland 6%, Belgium 5.3%
Trade Partners - imports: Germany 12.5%, China 8.2%, Netherlands 7.1%, US 7%, France 5.7%, Belgium 4.8%, Norway 4.7%