The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, also known as the United Kingdom (UK), is a country off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The country has a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, currently holds by Queen Elizabeth II. The UK had a vast cultural, political, religious, and economic influence on many countries throughout history. If you plan a stopover in the country, here are some fun and exciting facts about the UK.
General Facts About The UK
1. United Kingdom and Great Britain are different terms
Probably one of the most confusing facts about the UK is how people think it's the same with Great Britain.
People often refer to the UK as Great Britain or England. But these terms refer to different parts of the UK. England is the biggest and the most populous country in the UK. England's capital, London, is also the capital of the UK. Great Britain consists of three countries which are England, Scotland, and Wales.
And Great Britain and Northern Ireland made up the United Kingdom hence the name The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2. Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of William, the conqueror
William, the conqueror, inherited the crown of England in 1066 after a successful invasion. He is the first Norman king of England. Every British monarch who followed him, including the current monarch Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of William.
Some genealogists believe more that at least 25% of the English population has a distant relationship to him.
3. The British empire ruled more than 24% of the world’s land area
The British empire was the largest empire to exist at any point throughout the world's history. Since its formation in 1707, the British empire ruled over 23% of the global population and 24% of the Earth's landmass.
The USA, India, Australia, South Africa, and Canada are some of the few countries ruled by the empire. The period Between 1815 to 1914 was the empire's "imperial century" since it left without any serious international rival.
Interesting Facts About The UK
4. London sits at the centre of the world
Even though London technically doesn't sit at the centre of the world, the prime meridian (the line of 0° longitude) passes through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich London. English Mathematician Sir George Airy first established the Greenwich prime meridian.
Then, in 1884, at the International Meridian Conference, a committee officially declared it as the prime meridian.
5. The UK flag is a combination of flags of England, Scotland, and Ireland
The UK flag, commonly known as the Union Jack, is a combination of flags of England, Ireland, and Scotland, three of four countries of the UK.
The union jack came to use in 1606 when King James VI of Scotland also became the king of England and Ireland.
6. Food in the UK has a bad reputation
Lack of imagination and blandness are some of the general comments British cuisine receives from foreign visitors.
However, just like any other cuisine, British has both good and bad food. Full English breakfast (made up with eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, toast, and tomatoes), fish and chips, BLT sandwich, Shepard's pie, Yorkshire pudding, Toad in the hole, and Scotch egg are some of the best traditional foods worth trying during a UK stopover.
7. Brits are obsessed with Tea
One of the most well-known facts about UK is how people love their tea.
The UK is one of the largest Tea consumers since the 18th century. Tea is a prominent part of the UK culture and society. Tea with milk served with sandwiches, biscuits, or cakes is a common practice in the UK.
Tea started to become popular in the UK in the 1600s as the country couldn't import a sufficient quantity of coffee during its wars with France and Spain.
8. Many popular sports in the world are originated in the UK
Another interesting fact about the UK is that it is the birthplace of many popular sports.
The UK played a significant role in many sports to become popular worldwide. Some of the most popular sports either originated or transitioned in the UK. The UK is the birthplace of Cricket, Rugby, Tennis, and Golf.
While other sports like Soccer, Horse racing, and Motor racing became famous worldwide due to British involvement.
9. Stonehenge is one of the oldest monuments in the world
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument on Salisbury plain in England. According to archaeologists, the site's construction goes way back from 3000BC to 2000BC, making it one of the oldest monuments in the world.
Even though modern scholars agree that Stonehenge was a burial site, its other purposes and construction technology remain a mystery.
10. It is illegal to kill a mute Swan in the UK
Probably one of the strange facts about the UK is that it is illegal to kill a mute swan.
Queen Elizabeth II famously owns all the mute swans in the UK for centuries, and the law officially protects them as native species.
There is a misconception that killing a swan is treason in the UK, which is incorrect in a certain way. Killing a mute swan is not an act of treason, but it will incur a significant penalty.