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Europe

United Kingdom

A satellite image of BritainA satellite image of BritainThe United Kingdom (UK) consists of England, Scotland and Wales (which together make up Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. The country is often called "Britain" instead. In the past, Britain ruled the largest empire the world had ever seen, and it still plays a big part in world affairs today. One of the world's leading industrial nations and financial centres, Britain has the third largest economy in Europe, after Germany and France. Lying on the same latitude as southern Canada, Britain is warmed by the Gulf Stream, which gives the country a temperate climate. Southwesterly winds from the Atlantic Ocean bring a high yearly rainfall, mild winters and warm summers. Central and southern England are generally low-lying, while Northern England, Wales and Scotland have larger expanses of upland. 


 
A map of the United KingdomA map of the United Kingdom

A map of Europe in the Ice Ages A map of Europe in the Ice Ages

Glaciation

In the last 500,000 years, there have been periods of extremely cold climate in Britain. During some of these glacial periods, or Ice Ages, great ice sheets advanced south from the North Pole, spreading over much of the country, and reaching as far south as the River Thames in southern England at their greatest extent. In places, the ice was up to 1000 metres (more than 3000 feet) thick. The most recent glacial period ended just 10,000 years ago.
 

With 56 km (35 miles) of canal, Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, has more canals than Venice.

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