Geography of England

England, a political division of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It occupies the southern portion of the island of Great Britain, which it shares with Scotland, to the north, and Wales, to the west. England straddles, the prime meridian (0° longitude), which passes through Greenwich. Adjacent waters include the North Sea (east), the English Channel (south), and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea (west). At the narrowest part of the English Channel, the Strait of Dover, France is only about 20 miles (32 km) away.

The area of England is 50,362 square miles (130,438 km2), about that of New York State. Roughly triangular in shape, the country is more than 400 miles (640 km) long, north-south, and has a maximum width of about 300 miles (480 km). The English coast is indented by large river estuaries and bays: no place is more than 75 miles (120 km) from the sea. The coastline is about 1,150 miles (1,850 km) in length.

England's island location off the coast of Europe has played a major role in the country's development and history. Being so close to the mainland, England participated in many of Europe's great social, intellectual, and religious movements. At the same time, the English Channel protected the country from most potential invaders and separated it from the continent with its frequent political upheavals. Therefore, England was able to develop in a more orderly fashion than most continental countries.

Although a small country, England became the heart of what was once the world's largest empire. As the mother country of that empire, England helped mold the cultural institutions of many younger nations throughout the world, including the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Facts in brief about England
Capital: London.
Official language: English.
Area: 50,352 mi2 (130,410 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, about 360 mi (579 km); east-west, about 270 mi (435 km). Coastline--about 1,150 mi (1,851 km).
Elevation: Highest—Scafell Pike, 3,210 ft (978 m) above sea level. Lowest—Great Holme Fen, near the River Ouse in Cambridgeshire, 9 ft (2.7 m) below sea level.
Population: Current estimate—50,750,000; density, 1,008 per mi2 (389 per km2); distribution, 95 percent urban, 5 percent rural. 2001 census—49,138,831.
Chief products: Agriculture—barley, cattle, chickens and eggs, fruits, milk, potatoes, sheep, sugar beets, wheat. Fishing—cod, haddock, mackerel. Manufacturing—aircraft engines, beverages, chemicals, clothing, electronic equipment, fabricated steel products, footwear, leather goods, paper, printed materials, processed foods, tobacco, wool and other textiles. Mining—coal, natural gas, petroleum.
Physical Geography
EnglandEngland lies in the southern and eastern part of the island of Great Britain.

England is a country of rolling lowlands except for several highland areas in the west.

Highlands. The Pennines, a low range of mountains, extend southward from the Cheviot Hills, on the Scottish border, to the Midlands—about half the length of the country. This generally flat-topped mountainous backbone rises to a maximum height of almost 3,000 feet (900 m) and is largely covered by moors and heaths. Many of England's chief industrial cities have developed near coal fields on the flanks of the Pennines.

West of the Pennines, in northwestern England, are the Cumbrian Mountains—one of the country's principal scenic attractions. These mountains, eroded remnants of a volcanic dome, are dotted with lakes. Here is the Lake District of England, where the finest lake and mountain scenery is found. Scafell Pike, England's highest peak, rises to 3,210 feet (978 m) above sea level.

Only the eastern foothills of the bleak, windswept Chambray Mountains of Wales extend into England; few hills here exceed 1,700 feet (520 m). South of the Bristle Channel—in Cornwall, Devon, and Somerset—is a plateau-like peninsula that rises to more than 2,000 feet (600 m) in the Dartmoor region. There are many high, steep cliffs along the coast of this peninsula.

Lowlands. The Midlands, sometimes called the heart of England, is a rolling, grassy plain in the central part of the country. Birmingham is the largest city of this heavily industrialized region. South and east of the Midlands the land rolls gently, broken occasionally by escarpments, or ridges, that rarely exceed 1,000 feet (300 m) in elevation. They include the Cotswold Hills of Gloucestershire and the Chiltern Hills, northwest of London. Similar ridges, such as the Cleveland Hills and the Lincolnshire Wolds, appear farther north in North Yorkshire, Humberside, and Lincolnshire.

Rolling chalk downs—areas of open hilly land overlying chalk deposits—are the main physical features south of the Thames River. The two largest are the North Downs and South Downs, which break sharply into the English Channel, forming high chalk cliffs, including the White Cliffs of Dover.