England (Latin Anglia), political division of the island of Great Britain,
constituting, with Wales, the principal division of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland. England occupies all of the island east of Wales
and south of Scotland, another division of the United Kingdom. Established as
an independent monarchy many centuries ago, England in time achieved political
control over the rest of the island, all the British Isles, and vast sections
of the world, becoming the nucleus of one of the greatest empires in history.
The capital, largest city, and chief port of England is London, with a population
(1991 preliminary) of 6,378,600. It is also the capital of Great Britain and the
site of the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nations.
England is somewhat
triangular in shape, with its apex at the mouth of the Tweed River. The eastern
leg, bounded by the North Sea, extends generally southeast to the North Foreland,
the northern extremity of the region called the Downs. The western leg of the
triangle extends generally southwest from the mouth of the Tweed along the boundary
with Scotland, the Irish Sea, Saint Georges Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean to
Lands End, the westernmost extremity of England and of the island. The northern
frontier extends from Solway Firth on the west along the Cheviot Hills to the
mouth of the Tweed on the east. The base of the triangle fronts the English Channel
and the Strait of Dover. The total area of England is 130,439 sq km (50,363 sq
mi), 57 percent of the area of the island. This total, approximately the size
of the state of North Carolina, includes the region of the Scilly Isles, southwest
of Lands End in the Atlantic Ocean; the Isle of Wight (see Wight, Isle of), located
off the southern coast; and the Isle of Man, located in the Irish Sea.
One of the principal physiographic features of England, as well
as of the entire island of Great Britain, is the deeply indented coast. Most of
the indentations are excellent natural harbors, easily accessible to deepwater
shipping, a factor that has been decisive in the economic development and imperial
expansion of England. By virtue of the high tides that prevail along the eastern
coast, a number of rivers and their estuaries provide this region with safe anchorages.
The most important of these belong to such ports as Newcastle upon Tyne, on the
Tyne River; Middlesbrough, on the Tees River; Hull, on the Humber River; Great
Yarmouth, on the estuary of the Yare River; and London, on the Thames River. The
most important harbors on the southern coast include those of Dover, Hastings,
Eastbourne, Brighton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, and Plymouth. The western coast,
considerably more broken than either the eastern or southern coast, also has numerous
anchorages. Of outstanding commercial importance are the harbor of Bristol, at
the confluence of Bristol Channel and the Severn River; and Liverpool Harbor,
at the mouth of the Mersey River.
The terrain of England is diversified.
The northern and western portions are generally mountainous. The principal highland
region, the Pennine Chain (or Pennines), forms the backbone of northern England.
It is composed of several ranges extending south from the Cheviot Hills to the
valley of the Trent River and numerous spurs and extensions that radiate in all
directions. The extreme elevation of the Pennine Chain and the highest summit
in England is Scafell Pike (978 m/3210 ft above sea level). A large portion of
the area occupied by the Pennine Chain comprises the Lake District, one of the
most picturesque regions in England. The terrain east of Wales and between the
southern extremities of the Pennine Chain and Bristol Channel is an extension
of the rolling plain that occupies most of central and eastern England. Much of
the western part of this central region is known as the Midlands; it contains
an area that is known as the Black Country because of its intensive industrial
development. To the east lies The Fens, a vast drained marsh area. To the south
of Bristol Channel an elevated plateau slopes upward, culminating in the barren
uplands and moors of Cornwall and Devon. Dartmoor (about 610 m/about 2000 ft above
sea level), one of the wildest tracts in England, is situated in this region.
Successive ranges of chalk hills, seen from the English Channel as white cliffs,
project eastward from Devon to the Strait of Dover.
a result of the relative warmth of the nearby seas, England has a moderate climate,
rarely marked by extremes of heat or cold. The mean annual temperature ranges
between 11.1њ C (52њ F) in the south and 8.9њ C (48њ F) in the northeast. Seasonal
temperatures vary between a mean of about 16.1њ C (61њ F) during July, the hottest
month of the year, and 4.4њ C (40њ F) during January, the coldest month. The average
January and July temperatures for the city of London are 4.5њ C (40њ F) and 18њ
C (64њ F), respectively. Fogs, mists, and overcast skies are frequent, particularly
in the Pennine and inland regions. Precipitation, heaviest during October, averages
about 760 mm (about 30 in) annually in most of England.
has some agricultural and mineral resources but must rely on imports of both.
Approximately two-fifths of the land area is arable, with the richest soils found
in the east. Substantial reserves of iron ore are concentrated in Cumbria, Staffordshire,
and Lancashire. Waterpower resources are small and mostly concentrated in the
highlands of Cumbria, in northern England.
Plants and Animals
early times, England, like most of the island of Great Britain, was heavily forested,
chiefly with oak and beech in the lowlands and pine and birch in the mountainous
areas. Woodlands now constitute less than 4 percent of the total land area. Various
types of fruit trees are cultivated, including the cherry, apple, and plum. A
common shrub is a species of furze known locally as gorse. Numerous varieties
of wildflowers are also found.
Among the chief indigenous fauna of England
are several species of deer, fox, rabbit, hare, and badger. The most widespread
bird is the meadow pipit, and sparrows are abundant. Grouse are found in the northern
counties. Other familiar species are the crow, pigeon, rook, starling, and several
members of the thrush family. Reptiles, of which only four species occur on the
entire island of Great Britain, are rare in England. The most common freshwater
fishes found in England are trout and salmon.
great majority of the people of England, like those of the British Isles in general,
are descended from early Celtic and Iberian peoples and later invaders of the
islands, including the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, and Normans. After 1945 substantial
numbers of blacks and Asians immigrated into the country. England, once a nation
of small rural villages, has become highly urban since the early 19th century.
The population of England (1991 census, preliminary)
was 46,170,300. The overall population density of about 354 persons per sq km
(about 917 per sq mi) was one of the highest in the world. In 1980, approximately
75 percent were urban dwellers.
governmental purposes, England is divided into 39 nonmetropolitan counties, 6
metropolitan counties, and Greater London (established in 1965 as a separate administrative
entity). The counties are subdivided into a total of about 330 districts, which
together are further divided into some 10,000 parishes. Each level of local government
is presided over by a council, the members of which are elected to four-year terms.
In districts that have the title of city or borough, the chairperson of the council
is the mayor. Before the reorganization of local government in 1974, England was
divided into 46 administrative counties, Greater London, and 79 county boroughs.
The present counties and former counties of England, each of which is described
in a separate article in this encyclopedia, are listed in an accompanying chart.
After London, Birmingham, population (1991) 934,900, is the second
largest city and is the center of an extensive industrial area that contains major
concentrations of the automotive and other industries. Liverpool (448,300) is
the second largest port and a major cargo export outlet of Great Britain; it is
also a great commercial and industrial center. Manchester (397,400) is the chief
commercial hub of the cotton and synthetic-fiber textile industries, as well as
an important financial and commercial center and a major port. Among other important
cities are Sheffield (500,500), the heavy engineering center famous for its high-quality
steels, cutlery, and tools, and Bristol (370,300), a leading port and commercial
The Church of England, a Protestant Episcopal
denomination, is the state church and the nominal church of nearly three-fifths
of the population. The denomination next in importance is the Roman Catholic church,
which has about 6 million members in England. Among the numerous Protestant denominations
are the Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist, Unitarian, and Society of Friends.
England also has about 600,000 Muslims and 350,000 Jews. Large communities of
Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs have immigrated to England since the 1950s.
the development and administration of the educational system, see Great Britain.
In England and Wales school attendance is compulsory between the ages of 5 and
16. About 90 percent of the elementary and secondary schools are organized and
maintained by local education authorities and supported entirely by public funds;
the remainder are voluntary schools, provided and maintained by a private body,
usually of a religious denomination.
Elementary and Secondary Schools
the mid-1980s about 7.7 million pupils were attending publicly maintained schools
in England and Wales. Enrollment in independent schools was about 512,000; these
private schools are referred to in England as “public” schools. The transfer from
elementary to secondary school generally takes place at the age of 11.
Children with conditions such as blindness, deafness, mental
retardation, or other disabilities are given special aid in ordinary schools or
attend one of the day or boarding schools established for such children. In the
mid-1980s these special schools numbered nearly 1500 in England alone.
In the mid-1980s some 500 institutions provided part-time
or full-time education beyond the secondary level (called “further education”)
for students who do not go to a university. These schools included colleges, polytechnics,
and institutes of agriculture, art, commerce, and science. Colleges of education
numbered about 60.
Of the 34 traditional degree-granting universities in
England, all except Oxford and Cambridge (see Cambridge, University of; Oxford,
University of) were founded in the 19th and 20th centuries, many of them since
World War II (1939-1945). In the mid-1980s full-time university students totaled
more than 290,000 annually.
Little is known of the
earliest inhabitants of England. The megaliths at Stonehenge attest to the early
presence of an able people, as do early historical and archaeological reports,
but the first lasting influence on English culture was contributed by the Celts.
Roads and ruins bear witness to the Roman occupation, which began with the invasion
of Julius Caesar in 55 BC and extended until the 5th century AD. Christianity
was introduced by Roman soldiers but made little headway with the populace, and
its spread awaited the arrival of Saint Augustine, first archbishop of Canterbury,
in the 6th century.
Following the Roman departure, the Saxons became dominant.
A record of their era is provided by the annals known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
and by the writings of Saint Bede the Venerable, the theologian and historian.
The Norman Conquest in 1066 overthrew the Saxon dominance and, in its mixing of
elements from the Saxon and Celtic past with the Norman, created a new culture.
The Normans introduced feudalism and the French language to the upper classes.
From the 11th to the 14th century French was used at court and in vernacular literature;
Latin was used in scholarly literature.
A major task for William the Conqueror
and his successors was the amalgamation of Norman and Saxon and their common defense
against warlike factions in Scotland, Wales, and Scandinavia. A stable social
order directed toward these goals evolved slowly; elements of it still persist
today. For example, both the strong class system of the English and their hereditary
peerage have their roots in the Norman period.
The decline of feudalism,
starting late in the 14th century, led in England as elsewhere to the rise of
cities and the development of a middle class. By the 14th century a national secular
culture was beginning to emerge, and the English language (an amalgam of Anglo-Saxon
and Norman-French elements) was being adopted by the educated. The English, however,
had unique limitations caused by the size of their island and the limited type
and amount of resources found there. To fill their needs they developed into a
nation of traders and mariners. The exploits of Sir Francis Drake and the defeat
of the Spanish Armada (1588) led to commercial advantage as much as to naval victories.
Supremacy at sea not only gained England an empire but put the English in touch
with peoples the world over. Wealth flowed back to the island in consequence,
and so did ideas that enriched the traditions of England. Limited local work forces
contributed to the invention of machines and to the earliest manifestations of
what became known as the Industrial Revolution.
Among the prime traditions
of the English are a fierce pride in their freedom, a unity against adversity,
and an ability to bring differing factions together in compromise. Pride in being
English is also a national trait, although the English show considerable diversity
in habits, manners, and even in speech. Perhaps because of this diversity, the
closest thing to a national holiday in England is Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated on
November 5 (see Fawkes, Guy). The sports most favored are cricket, rugby football,
association football (soccer), and tennis. Both dog and horse racing are also
Libraries and Museums
More than 500 public library
authorities administer some 40,000 branch libraries throughout Great Britain.
Among the libraries in London are the British Library, the various divisions of
which constitute the largest library in Great Britain; the University of London
Central Library; the Science Museum Library; and the Public Record Office Library,
which contains the National Archives. Many cities and towns have museums of art,
natural history, and archaeology. The best-known and largest museum is the British
Museum in London, which contains collections of art and archaeological specimens
from all over the world. Other outstanding museums in London are the Tate Gallery,
the National Gallery, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
law originated in the customs of the Anglo-Saxons and of the Normans who conquered
England in 1066. The Norman kings established a strong, centralized system for
the administration of justice, and the royal courts developed a complex system
of rules based on custom. Clashes between the power of the monarch and competing
interests, the feudal barons in early times and later Parliament, produced basic
legal documents that have had tremendous influence on the whole English-speaking
world. The most famous of these documents is the Magna Carta, signed in 1215;
scarcely less important is the Bill of Rights of 1689. The principles that an
individual should be convicted only by judgment of that individual's peers, that
personal liberty should not be infringed or personal property taken without due
process of law, and that a citizen should be guarded against unreasonable searches
and seizures were all first articulated in these fundamental pronouncements of
English law and in their elaboration in decisions by English judges. In this sense
English law is judge-made law and, although statutes are continually passed by
Parliament, the general principles of the law are still found in the decisions
of the courts rather than the statutes. Such a system is made possible by the
doctrine of binding precedent, by which a lower court must follow the rules and
principles articulated by the superior, appellate courts.
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Дата публикации: 20-07-2009