5 European Cities That Are Breathtaking in Spring

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 European Cities That Are Breathtaking in Spring

Spring is the perfect season to visit Europe. Airfare and lodging options are more reasonable, and museums and attractions aren’t as crowded. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, which European city should you choose? Here’s a list of potential destinations that are absolutely breathtaking in the spring.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

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Ideal for travelers with a modest budget, Budapest is a city that lies on both banks of the Danube. The city was initially three separate towns of Buda, Óbuda and Pest until they were combined in the year 1873. Today, you can visit Budapest in the springtime, stroll down cobblestone streets and enjoy food-themed festivals that highlight Chilean and Moroccan cuisine. Visit the historic Jewish quarter, go to the opera or see a play at a theater. Don’t forget to check out the Aquincum, a museum housing the reconstructed remains of an ancient Roman city.

Paris, France

Paris, France

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Sure, Ella Fitzgerald sang the praises of “April in Paris.” But May and June are even better. That’s because during those two months, the sun is out for 16 hours before it finally sets. This allows you to enjoy so many outdoor activities like sipping wine at a cafe in the sun, strolling by the banks of the Seine or taking a romantic boat ride with your significant other.

What’s spring without flowers? Fortunately, Paris offers plenty of green space for quiet reflection and relaxation. The city boasts over 100 gardens, from simple pocket parks to more flamboyant ones such as the Tuileries.

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow, Scotland

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Arts lovers will definitely need to consider a springtime visit to Glasgow, Scotland. Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to check out the work of various artists, including the designs of artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in the year 1868 and is considered one of Scotland’s most influential artists. If you visit Glasgow in April, you shouldn’t miss Glasgow International, a bi-annual art festival featuring contemporary art.

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Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne, Switzerland

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Located on Lake Geneva, Lausanne is a Swiss city that offers medieval architecture and beautiful vineyards. A quaint mixture of holiday resort and commercial town, Lausanne is a wonderful place to visit in the spring. Tiny, narrow roads and winding alleyways comprise the city, and many of those roads and alleys contain cafes and quaint shops. The city abounds with opportunities to eat mouthwatering cuisine. And if you visit Lausanne in the spring, don’t forget to visit its parks which boast Mediterranean plant species. There’s plenty to satisfy art lovers too. Art museums, theater, music productions and ballet performed by the world-renowned Béjart Ballet are just a few of the cultural activities available in Lausanne.

Lisse, Netherlands

Lisse, Netherlands

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When you think of Netherlands, you think of tulips. Lots of them. And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you visit Lisse, Netherlands, in the spring. If flowers are your thing, check out Keukenhof, a lovely garden located in Lisse. It has 7 million planted flower bulbs, making it one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Flowers are planted in a specific pattern to fit a theme that changes each year. So the effect will always be stunning, no matter how many times you visit Keukenhof over the years. And, of course, since this is the Netherlands, the garden has plenty of tulips. Don’t miss the rare black tulips that are featured there as well.

7 Crazy Laws From Countries Around the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Crazy Laws From Countries Around the World

Laws enacted by government officials are supposed to keep citizens safe and countries in order. But what happens when some of these laws are completely crazy? From laws prohibiting the use of undergarments to laws about life after death, here’s a list of some of the craziest laws from around the world.

Italy

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In the city of Rome, goldfish are not allowed to live inside bowls. In order to keep pets healthy and happy, a law was created to ensure better treatment of dogs, cats and even pet goldfish. As a result, goldfish must reside within a full-sized aquarium, a luxurious upgrade from the traditional goldfish bowl.

Scotland

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In Scotland, choosing to wear underwear can have consequences. According to The Scotsman, if you are wearing underwear beneath your kilt, you can be fined two cans of beer. It’s safe to say that this isn’t a strictly enforced rule, but Scots may want to stock up on beer, just in case.

Portugal

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Portugal, a popular seaside destination, has a law against urinating in the ocean. Presumably, this law was made to protect the quality of the water at crowded beaches, but we have to wonder how this law is enforced? If you find a short line at the beach bathroom in Portugal, there may be some lawbreakers in your midst.

Singapore

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Since 1992, gum chewing has been banned in Singapore. The country has also banned littering and jaywalking. Oh, and when you use a public toilet, you are legally required to flush it. All of these laws are an effort to keep the country clean and welcoming for its residents and visitors, so we can’t complain about them too much.

Poland

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Winnie the Pooh, the beloved storybook character, was banned from a public playground in Poland due to the bear’s crude way of dressing. This is because Winnie the Pooh does not wear pants. Pooh’s outfit was deemed “inappropriate” by city council members, and children are no longer allowed to bring any items bearing Winnie the Pooh’s likeness to the town playground.

Japan

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In Japan, those extra pounds you gain around the holidays could get you into big trouble. This is because it’s illegal to be fat in Japan. In order to enforce the law, Japanese higher-ups have a mandatory waistline maximum for anyone over the age of 40. According to Pri, a man’s waistline measurement cannot exceed 33.5 inches, while a woman’s waistline cannot exceed 35.4 inches.

Greece

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In 2009, Greece went as far as creating a law to ban certain types of footwear. High heels are not allowed to be worn at archeological sites around the country. Apparently, the fashionable ladies’ footwear was causing major damage to the Odeon in Athens and lawmakers decided to take a precautionary measure to protect the country’s historical monuments.

5 Fairy Tale Castles in Europe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5

Fairy Tale Castles in Europe

Fairy tales are meant to transport us to different realms, which is precisely what these five castles in Europe also do. Their architecture, setting and enticing histories make visitors feel like they too will live happily ever after.

Eilean Donan, Scotland

Eilean Donan, Scotland

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Melancholic, solitary and robust are some of the terms that define Eilean Donan. Probably the most popular castle in Scotland, it is located on the top of an island on Loch Duich and has been used as a stage for a number of films. A sole glance will bring to mind traditional bagpipes and the fairy tale troops scenes where soldiers and horses gallop through the stone arch bridge. During the winter months, the fog is very heavy around the castle, creating a mysterious air.

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

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While the castle is an incredible construction, it’s necessary to highlight all of Prague, with its cathedral, palaces and streets. In winter, the contrast between snowflakes and street lights paint a beautiful picture. The statues on the Charles Bridge always capture attention.

Indeed, Prague itself is like a fairy tale. A succession of ambitious rulers kept on improving the original Czech buildings dating back to the ninth century, meaning that we can now see a mix of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance styles.

And Prague Castle is an idyllic place that seems to truly come from a fairy tale. The sun’s rays sneak between the different spaces, giving it a magical air.

Tintagel Castle, England

Tintagel Castle, England

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Another enchanting location that brings to mind the story of a child who drew a sword from a stone to become king. In effect, the legend of King Arthur has always been related to the island of Tintagel, which Richard, Earl of Cornwall probably knew when he ordered for the castle to be built in the year 1233.

Today, what has remained of Tintagel Castle immerses visitors in a very eerie atmosphere, for it stands between ruins, a cliff and calm surroundings right next to the Atlantic.

Pena Palace, Portugal

Pena Palace, Portugal

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In Sintra, it’s impossible to take a step without tripping over a palace or castle. Visitors can explore the ruins of Castelo dos Mouros, which offers wonderful views of the city, and the fantastic Quinta da Regaleira. However, you can truly feel like you’re living in a fairy tale in the Pena Palace, which stands out in the town center because of its tall chimneys.

Somewhere buried under the walls of the current structure, are the remains of a medieval convent. And this is only one of the treasures that it hides inside. The Palace is actually divided into three buildings, linked by a succession of fountains, courtyards and different rooms. The tiles are also striking, bearing Moorish designs. It is one of the few medieval palaces of Islamic origin found in Portugal.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

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This 19th-century German castle is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful castles in the world. In fact, every year it receives thousands of visitors and has constantly been a source of inspiration for the cinema, most notably in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

Located in Bavaria, Neuschwanstein Castle stands in an area of ​​great natural beauty with lakes and mountains, a wonderful set that further enhances its spectacular and imposing presence. Even the smallest detail was taken into account in order to obtain an architectural masterpiece. Its interior is as astounding as the facade, with a large collection of handicraft pieces. Visitors can appreciate some incredible views of the Alps from inside of the main bedroom.

3 Essential Cities to See While Traveling Europe for the First Time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Essential Cities to See While Traveling Europe for the First Time

This is a vast world with many exciting places to see. Planning a European trip is your first step in seeing even just a small portion of it. When planning a travel itinerary, it’s crucial to have a layout of what you want to see and when you want to see it. If you’re looking at the long list of places to visit in Europe, it’s best to narrow down your options.

To help with the process, here are three essential cities you should see while you’re traveling through Europe for the first time.

Paris, France

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When you think of dream destinations or romantic getaways, chances are Paris is high on that list. It may seem like the atypical choice for European getaways, but there are plenty of reasons why the City of Light is such a crucial stop.

One could focus on the obvious choice of the Eiffel Tower, which is a spectacle that the Las Vegas iteration barely does any justice, but the city of Paris is brimming with cultural wonders, other historic landmarks, and restaurants just waiting to stuff patrons full of staple French cuisine.

During your stay, you’ll want to stop at awe-inspiring sights like the Pere Lachais, the largest park and cemetery in the city, Cathedrale Notre-Dame, the Louvre Museum, and the Tuileries Garden. When you’ve expended your energy, you can re energize at one of the many cafes found streetside. Croissants, macarons, and an over-abundance of additional pastries will leave you full but still wanting more.

For first-time European travelers, Paris is relatively easy to navigate. French is the primary language, but it won’t be too difficult to find someone who speaks English.

Venice, Italy

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Venice is an entire city built on a network of mud islands and canals. It already sounds like the perfect place you would want to visit during your European vacation. Right off the bat, the waterways that cut through the city are a sight to behold as they serve as viable routes to get from point A to point B.

Being an Italian city, there is no denying that the food is going to be everything you could want. Pasta dishes will be made with freshly-rolled dough, and bread will have that unmistakable freshly-baked taste. There is no shortage of restaurants to grab a seat at, but you’ll have to pry yourself away from the exquisite food at some point.

Many sights showcase the history of the watery city. The buildings that line the canal are an important part of Venice’s history, but attractions like the Campanile di San Marco, St. Mark’s Square, the Correr Civic Museum, and the Peggy Guggenheim are going to be what drives the trip.

If you can pry yourself away from the incredible food, there are many experiences to be had. While it’s always best to learn the native language, it’s not impossible to get around only knowing English.

Edinburgh, Scotland

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When you travel to Scotland, you’re treated to some of the most beautiful views and unforgettable experiences, making it a shoo-in for the most essential city to visit during your first-time trip to Europe. There is no getting over the rolling plains, the historic architecture, and the friendly people, and that’s only a small piece of why Edinburgh is an ideal choice for your vacation.

If you need your fill of castles, Edinburgh has them. It is also home to Arthur’s Seat in the highest point of Holyrood Park, the Royal Botanic Garden, St. Giles Cathedral, Calton Hill and the Scottish National Monument. There is plenty to see in Edinburgh, and these adventures and activities just barely scratch the surface.

There is a lot to enjoy in Edinburgh, but there is no denying that the views top that list. A steady emerald green courses through the city, contrasting the old look and feel of its existing buildings. If you can pry yourself away from the architecture for long enough, you may even be able to indulge in the delicious cuisine and whiskey-barreled, aged-right in Scotland.

9 Beautiful European Cities By The Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DISCOVERER BLOG)

 

Europe’s long and varied coastline is dotted with settlements whose inhabitants have, for centuries, made their living from the sea. Today, many feature historic mansions, charming historic squares and quaint harbors that draw as many tourists as fishermen. Though some have grown into cities, others are constrained by the physical landscape to remain impossibly beautiful coastal towns.

Rovinj, Croatia

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The gem of Istria covers a tiny headland, huddled around a harbor full of fishing boats. For centuries, the steeple of St Euphemia has risen like a beacon from the mass of terracotta roofs which surround it. On the ground, explore cobbled streets and narrow alleyways to discover a liberal scattering of gift shops, cafés and bijou apartments.

Portree, Scotland

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The largest town on Scotland’s Isle of Skye welcomes visitors with the sight of rows of brightly-painted cottages. Life centers around the busy harbor, but those with time on their hands are advised to take a hike. The Scorrybreac trail and the path up the headland known locally as The Lump are two of the best local walks.

Oia, Greece

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Few Greek towns have made such an impact as Santorini’s Oia, and you only have to set eyes on the place to understand why. The town’s whitewashed homes and businesses cling to the rocky flanks of the dormant volcano overlooking the azure lake that fills its caldera. Its intense beauty has drawn artists and photographers for years, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Vernazza, Italy

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Though visitors would not be disappointed with any of the Cinque Terre settlements, there’s something about Vernazza that’s especially compelling. The cupola-topped bell tower of Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church stands tight against the waterfront but for the best views, climb the steps to the tower of the ruined Castello Doria and look out over the glittering sea.

Tavira, Portugal

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There are many contenders for stunning coastal towns along Portugal’s beautiful Algarve, but Tavira is a stand out. The town itself is located inland of a long sandy beach and the salt pans are home to a wide variety of seabirds including waders, spoonbills and flamingos. In the heart of the medieval town, you’ll find a castle built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque and Santa María do Castelo Church, which houses the tombs of seven knights allegedly ambushed by the Moors.

Visby, Sweden

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Located on the Baltic coast, the Hanseatic port of Visby lies on the island of Gotland. Its 13th-century ramparts, historic warehouses and the former homes of wealthy merchants make this one of the most delightful towns in Sweden. Pull up a chair at one of the pavement cafés that grace Stora Torget, the main square, and people watch over a cup of coffee. But when you can drag yourself away, the Gotland Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the town’s Viking past.

Cadiz, Spain

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In their rush to tick off the sights of Seville, Cordoba and Granada, visitors sometimes overlook Cadiz, but to do so would be a shame. In the 17th and 18th centuries, merchants built watchtowers to ensure they knew their ships had returned to port. Today, 126 of the 160 remain. Get a bird’s-eye view from the Camera Obscura at the top of Torre Tavira before taking a stroll at ground level to gaze up at these interesting structures.

Aeroskobing, Denmark

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Nicknamed “the fairytale town of Denmark,” Aeroskobing, or Ærøskøbing as it’s written in Danish, is a stunner of a coastal town. Cobbled streets, winding alleyways and historic houses give the place bags of character. Don’t miss the Priors House, which dates from 1690, the town’s cook house – built to reduce the risk of fire breaking out on the wooden boats that docked in port – and Ærøskøbing Church in the market square, the third to grace this spot.

Fowey, England

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Pronounced “Foy,” well-heeled Fowey made its money on the export of china clay, which these days manifests itself in the pastel-colored houses and cosy pubs that jostle for position around this characterful Cornish harbor. The town that inspired Daphne du Maurier to write Rebecca makes a handy base for sampling the famous local mussels and for exploring the rest of the Polperro heritage coastline.

Enthusiastic advocate for independent travel and passionate geographer, Julia considers herself privileged to earn a living doing something she loves. When not roaming the globe, you’ll find her windswept but smiling, chatting away to her two dogs as they wander the Essex marshes.

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Holidays you won’t believe actually exist

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

Holidays you won’t believe actually exist

There isn’t much that beats a long weekend during a public holiday, one that you can celebrate with your family and friends. Typically, these days mark a significant historical date or commemorate a watershed moment in a society’s past—and sometimes they don’t. Here are some publicly recognized holidays that you won’t believe actually exist.

Fifth of July

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Where it’s celebrated: United States

Independence Day is one of the most important holidays celebrated in America. It celebrates the virtue that is the core of the American ideology – freedom. The holiday marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document that represents a turning point in United States and world history. It is also a celebration of summer, epitomized by backyard barbecues, company picnics and elaborate fireworks displays.

However, since the Fourth of July is federal holiday on a hard date, it sometimes falls on a weekend. If this is the case, federal employees, schools, and the post office take the following Monday off, and many businesses follow suit. This makes the Fifth of July the holiday. July 5 is also National Bikini Day in the United States, which makes a perfect day to head to the beach.

National Picnic Day

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Where it’s celebrated: Australia

The first Monday of August is Picnic Day in the Northern Territory of Australia. Schools are closed, the postal service is suspended, and businesses are expected to give employees the day off.

While it may seem strange to suspend all business activities for something as simple as a picnic, the tradition comes from Australia’s industrial heritage. Picnic Day was originally a company wide event for railroad employees, which soon expanded into a region-wide series of events culminated in the Harts Range Races in Central Australia. However, some groups in Australia celebrate the day to mark a different occasion. It is sometimes used to remember the day when Chinese indentured servants were released from their tasks related to building the North Australia Railway.

Up Helly Aa

Credit: HelenL100 / iStock

Where it’s celebrated: Scotland

Up Helly Aa is a celebration of many things: winter, fire, Vikings, and, perhaps most significantly, alcohol. The celebration is held on the last Tuesday in January in multiple locations across the Shetland Islands and typically consists of costumed revelers parading through the streets of the largest nearby town. The festival begins with participants drinking heavily and ends with the burning of a replica Viking ship.

While the tradition might seem steeped in history, it is not, as there is no record of Norse cultures holding a similar event at that time of year. By most accounts, the celebration began as a way to combat public drunkenness and disorder in the early 1800s. Despite all these odd facts, Up Helly Aa is a publicly-recognized holiday, and all government operated offices are closed.

Day of the Sea

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Where it’s celebrated: Bolivia

A holiday honoring a country’s maritime history wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary – unless that country was landlocked, as Bolivia is. The Day of the Sea, held every March 23, is the day that Bolivia remembers the loss of their last stretch of oceanfront property, the Port of Caluma. To commemorate the event, participants hold a parade that is accompanied by recordings of ship horns and sea gulls.

Bermuda Day

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Where it’s celebrated: Bermuda

At first glance, Bermuda Day seems normal enough. What country doesn’t take time to celebrate their heritage and way of life? What makes Bermuda Day intriguing, however, is the specific details of island life highlighted during the event. Bermuda day, celebrated every May 24, is widely known as the first day it is socially acceptable to swim in the ocean and wear shorts to work. In that way, it is a little like casual Friday, except it lasts all summer.

Holidays You may not believe actually exist

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

Holidays you won’t believe actually exist

There isn’t much that beats a long weekend during a public holiday, one that you can celebrate with your family and friends. Typically, these days mark a significant historical date or commemorate a watershed moment in a society’s past—and sometimes they don’t. Here are some publicly recognized holidays that you won’t believe actually exist.

Fifth of July

Credit: gilaxia / iStock

Where it’s celebrated: United States

Independence Day is one of the most important holidays celebrated in America. It celebrates the virtue that is the core of the American ideology – freedom. The holiday marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document that represents a turning point in United States and world history. It is also a celebration of summer, epitomized by backyard barbecues, company picnics and elaborate fireworks displays.

However, since the Fourth of July is federal holiday on a hard date, it sometimes falls on a weekend. If this is the case, federal employees, schools, and the post office take the following Monday off, and many businesses follow suit. This makes the Fifth of July the holiday. July 5 is also National Bikini Day in the United States, which makes a perfect day to head to the beach.

National Picnic Day

Credit: JaySi / iStock

Where it’s celebrated: Australia

The first Monday of August is Picnic Day in the Northern Territory of Australia. Schools are closed, the postal service is suspended, and businesses are expected to give employees the day off.

While it may seem strange to suspend all business activities for something as simple as a picnic, the tradition comes from Australia’s industrial heritage. Picnic Day was originally a company wide event for railroad employees, which soon expanded into a region-wide series of events culminated in the Harts Range Races in Central Australia. However, some groups in Australia celebrate the day to mark a different occasion. It is sometimes used to remember the day when Chinese indentured servants were released from their tasks related to building the North Australia Railway.

Up Helly Aa

Credit: HelenL100 / iStock

Where it’s celebrated: Scotland

Up Helly Aa is a celebration of many things: winter, fire, Vikings, and, perhaps most significantly, alcohol. The celebration is held on the last Tuesday in January in multiple locations across the Shetland Islands and typically consists of costumed revelers parading through the streets of the largest nearby town. The festival begins with participants drinking heavily and ends with the burning of a replica Viking ship.

While the tradition might seem steeped in history, it is not, as there is no record of Norse cultures holding a similar event at that time of year. By most accounts, the celebration began as a way to combat public drunkenness and disorder in the early 1800s. Despite all these odd facts, Up Helly Aa is a publicly-recognized holiday, and all government operated offices are closed.

Day of the Sea

Credit: StreetFlash / iStock

Where it’s celebrated: Bolivia

A holiday honoring a country’s maritime history wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary – unless that country was landlocked, as Bolivia is. The Day of the Sea, held every March 23, is the day that Bolivia remembers the loss of their last stretch of oceanfront property, the Port of Caluma. To commemorate the event, participants hold a parade that is accompanied by recordings of ship horns and sea gulls.

Bermuda Day

Credit: wwing / iStock

Where it’s celebrated: Bermuda

At first glance, Bermuda Day seems normal enough. What country doesn’t take time to celebrate their heritage and way of life? What makes Bermuda Day intriguing, however, is the specific details of island life highlighted during the event. Bermuda day, celebrated every May 24, is widely known as the first day it is socially acceptable to swim in the ocean and wear shorts to work. In that way, it is a little like casual Friday, except it lasts all summer.

Guyana: Truth, Knowledge, History On The Northern, South American Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Guyana

Introduction Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. This ethnology-cultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then it has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi JAGAN was elected president in what is considered the country’s first free and fair election since independence. After his death five years later, his wife, Janet JAGAN, became president but resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat JAGDEO, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006.
History When the first Europeans arrived in the area around 1500, Guyana was inhabited by the Arawak and Carib tribes of Amerindians. Although Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), the Dutch were first to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752). The British assumed control in the late 18th century, and the Dutch formally ceded the area in 1814. In 1831 the three separate colonies became a single British colony known as British Guiana.

Escaped slaves formed their own settlements known as Maroon communities. With the abolition of slavery in 1834 many of the former enslaved people began to settle in urban areas. Indentured laborers from modern day Portugal (1834), Germany (first in 1835), Ireland (1836), Scotland (1837), Malta (1839), China and India (beginning in 1838) were imported to work on the sugar plantations.

In 1889 Venezuela claimed the land up to the Essequibo. Ten years later an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to British Guiana.

During World War II the United States arranged for its air force to use British airports in South America, including those in British Guiana

Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966 and became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The United States State Department and the CIA, along with the British government, played a strong role in influencing who would politically control Guyana during this time.[1] They provided secret financial support and political campaign advice to pro-western Guyanese of African descent, especially Forbes Burnham’s People’s National Congress to the detriment of Cheddi Jagan-led Marxists of Indian descent.

Geography Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela
Geographic coordinates: 5 00 N, 59 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 214,970 sq km
land: 196,850 sq km
water: 18,120 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Idaho
Land boundaries: total: 2,949 km
border countries: Brazil 1,606 km, Suriname 600 km, Venezuela 743 km
Coastline: 459 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the outer edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to August, November to January)
Terrain: mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Roraima 2,835 m
Natural resources: bauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish
Land use: arable land: 2.23%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 97.63% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 241 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.64 cu km/yr (2%/1%/98%)
per capita: 2,187 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons
Environment – current issues: water pollution from sewage and agricultural and industrial chemicals; deforestation
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay; substantial portions of its western and eastern territories are claimed by Venezuela and Suriname respectively
People Population: 769,095
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.1% (male 102,111/female 98,325)
15-64 years: 68.6% (male 266,288/female 261,620)
65 years and over: 5.3% (male 17,308/female 23,443) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 27.8 years
male: 27.3 years
female: 28.3 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.234% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 18.09 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 8.28 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -7.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.039 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.018 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.738 male(s)/female
total population: 1.006 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 31.35 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 34.93 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 66.17 years
male: 63.52 years
female: 68.95 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.04 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 2.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 11,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 1,100 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoa diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vector-borne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: osteoporosis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Guyanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Guyanese
Ethnic groups: East Indian 50%, black 36%, Amerindian 7%, white, Chinese, and mixed 7%
Religions: Christian 50%, Hindu 35%, Muslim 10%, other 5%
Languages: English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Urdu
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.1%
female: 98.5%

Isle of Man: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This North Atlantic Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Isle of Man

Introduction Part of the Norwegian Kingdom of the Hebrides until the 13th century when it was ceded to Scotland, the isle came under the British crown in 1765. Current concerns include reviving the almost extinct Manx Gaelic language. Isle of Man is a British crown dependency, but is not part of the UK. However, the UK Government remains constitutionally responsible for its defense and international representation.
History Ancient times to present

The Isle of Man is one of six Celtic nations and its history reflects this. It is likely that the first Celtic tribes to inhabit the Island were of the Brythonic variety. Around AD 700 it is assumed that Irish invasion or immigration formed the basis of the early Manx population. This is evident in the change in language used in Ogham inscriptions. Manx Gaelic remains closely related to Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic.

Viking settlement on the Isle of Man began at the end of the eighth century. Though the Vikings established Tynwald and introduced many land divisions that still exist, they had little actual influence on the culture of the Manx people. Although the Manx language does contain Norse influences, they are few. The Norse Kingdom of Mann and the Isles was created by Godred Crovan in 1079. In 1266, as dictated in the Treaty of Perth, Norway’s King Magnus VI ceded the isles to Scotland. The Isle of Man came under English control in the fourteenth century and to the British Crown in 1765. While the British monarch became the Lord of Mann, the island was not incorporated into the United Kingdom but remained a Crown dependency.

During Viking times, the islands of the Norse Kingdom of Mann and the Isles were called the Súðreyjar or Sudreys (“southern isles”) in contrast to the Norðreyjar (“northern isles”) of Orkney and Shetland. This became Sodor. The Church of England diocese is still called the Diocese of Sodor and Man although it only covers Mann. (When the Rev. W. V. Awdry wrote The Railway Series, he invented the island of Sodor as an imaginary island located between the Isle of Man and the Cumbrian coast.)

The Isle of Man was used as a location for “Alien Civilian Internment” camps during both the First and Second World Wars.

Tynwald

Tynwald, the Island’s parliament, was nominally founded in AD 979. It is arguably the oldest continuous parliament in the world.[2] The annual ceremonial meeting in July on Tynwald Day, the Island’s national day, continues to be held at Tynwald Hill, where titles are announced and a brief description of the new laws enacted by Tynwald during the previous year is given.

Geography Location: Western Europe, island in the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland
Geographic coordinates: 54 15 N, 4 30 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 572 sq km
land: 572 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than three times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 160 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm
Climate: temperate; cool summers and mild winters; overcast about one-third of the time
Terrain: hills in north and south bisected by central valley
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Irish Sea 0 m
highest point: Snaefell 621 m
Natural resources: none
Land use: arable land: 9%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 91% (permanent pastures, forests, mountain, and heathland) (2002)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: waste disposal (both household and industrial); transboundary air pollution
Geography – note: one small islet, the Calf of Man, lies to the southwest, and is a bird sanctuary
Politics Most Manx politicians stand for election as independents rather than as representatives of political parties. Though political parties do exist, their influence is not nearly as strong as is the case in the United Kingdom.

The largest political party is the recently established Liberal Vannin Party, which promotes greater Manx independence and more accountability in Government. The LibVannin party has two members of Tynwald including Leader Peter Karran MHK.

A nationalist pressure group Mec Vannin advocates the establishment of a sovereign republic.

People Population: 75,831 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.1% (male 6,645/female 6,330)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 25,085/female 24,840)
65 years and over: 17.1% (male 5,232/female 7,699) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 39.8 years
male: 38.6 years
female: 41.2 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.513% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 10.96 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 11.1 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 5.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.951 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.72 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.67 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.72 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.64 years
male: 75.3 years
female: 82.17 years

United Kingdom: The Truth, Knowledge And History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

United Kingdom

Introduction As the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the earth’s surface. The first half of the 20th century saw the UK’s strength seriously depleted in two World Wars and the Irish republic withdraw from the union. The second half witnessed the dismantling of the Empire and the UK rebuilding itself into a modern and prosperous European nation. As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a founding member of NATO, and of the Commonwealth, the UK pursues a global approach to foreign policy; it currently is weighing the degree of its integration with continental Europe. A member of the EU, it chose to remain outside the Economic and Monetary Union for the time being. Constitutional reform is also a significant issue in the UK. The Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly were established in 1999, but the latter was suspended until May 2007 due to wrangling over the peace process.
History On 1 May 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain was created by the political union of the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland. This event was the result of the Treaty of Union that was agreed on 22 July 1706, and then ratified by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland each passing an Act of Union in 1707. Almost a century later, the Kingdom of Ireland, already under English control by 1691, joined the Kingdom of Great Britain with the passing of the Act of Union 1800. Although England and Scotland had been separate states prior to 1707, they had been in personal union since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when James VI King of Scots had inherited the throne of the Kingdoms of England and Ireland and moved his court from Edinburgh to London.

In its first century, the United Kingdom played an important role in developing Western ideas of the parliamentary system as well as making significant contributions to literature, the arts, and science. The UK-led Industrial Revolution transformed the country and fuelled the growing British Empire. During this time, like other great powers, the UK was involved in colonial exploitation, including the Atlantic slave trade, although the passing of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 made it the first country to prohibit trade in slaves.

After the defeat of Napoleon in the Napoleonic Wars, the UK emerged as the principal naval power of the 19th century and remained an eminent power into the mid-20th century. The British Empire expanded to its maximum size by 1921, gaining the League of Nations mandate over former German and Ottoman colonies after World War I. One year later, the BBC, the world’s first large-scale international broadcasting network, was created.

Long simmering tensions in Ireland led to the partition of the island in 1920, followed by independence for the Irish Free State in 1922 with Northern Ireland remaining within the UK. As a result, in 1927, the formal name of the UK was changed to its current name, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The UK fought Nazi Germany as one of the major Allied powers of World War II. At one stage in 1940, amid the Battle of Britain, it stood alone against the Axis. After the victory, the UK played a key role in designing a new world order. World War II left the United Kingdom financially damaged. However, Marshall Aid and costly loans taken from both Canada and the United States helped the UK on the road to recovery.

The immediate post-war years saw the establishment of the Welfare State, including among the world’s first and most comprehensive public health services, while the demands of a recovering economy attracted immigrants from all over the Commonwealth. Although the new postwar limits of Britain’s political role were confirmed by the Suez Crisis of 1956, the international spread of the English language meant the continuing influence of its literature and culture, while from the 1960s its popular culture also found influence abroad.

Following a period of global economic slowdown and industrial strife in the 1970s, the 1980s saw the inflow of substantial North Sea oil revenues and economic growth. The premiership of Margaret Thatcher marked a significant change of direction from the post-war political and economic consensus; a path that has continued under the New Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown since 1997.

The United Kingdom was one of the 12 founding members of the European Union at its launch in 1992 with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Prior to that, it had been a member of the EU’s forerunner, the European Economic Community (EEC), from 1973. The attitude of the present Labour government towards further integration with this organisation is mixed, with the Official Opposition, the Conservative Party, favouring less powers and competencies being transferred to the EU.

The end of the 20th century saw major changes to the governance of the UK with the establishment of devolved national administrations for Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales following pre-legislative referenda.

Geography Location: Western Europe, islands including the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, northwest of France
Geographic coordinates: 54 00 N, 2 00 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 244,820 sq km
land: 241,590 sq km
water: 3,230 sq km
note: includes Rockall and Shetland Islands
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 360 km
border countries: Ireland 360 km
Coastline: 12,429 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: as defined in continental shelf orders or in accordance with agreed upon boundaries
Climate: temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast
Terrain: mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: The Fens -4 m
highest point: Ben Nevis 1,343 m
Natural resources: coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, lead, zinc, gold, tin, limestone, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, potash, silica sand, slate, arable land
Land use: arable land: 23.23%
permanent crops: 0.2%
other: 76.57% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,700 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 160.6 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 11.75 cu km/yr (22%/75%/3%)
per capita: 197 cu m/yr (1994)
Natural hazards: winter windstorms; floods
Environment – current issues: continues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (has met Kyoto Protocol target of a 12.5% reduction from 1990 levels and intends to meet the legally binding target and move toward a domestic goal of a 20% cut in emissions by 2010); by 2005 the government reduced the amount of industrial and commercial waste disposed of in landfill sites to 85% of 1998 levels and recycled or composted at least 25% of household waste, increasing to 33% by 2015
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: lies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from France and linked by tunnel under the English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters
Politics The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy: Queen Elizabeth II is head of state of the UK as well as of fifteen other Commonwealth countries, putting the UK in a personal union with those other states. The Crown has sovereignty over the Crown Dependencies of the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, which are not part of the United Kingdom though the UK government manages their foreign affairs and defence and the UK Parliament has the authority to legislate on their behalf.

Since the United Kingdom is one of the three countries in the world today that does not have a codified constitution, the Constitution of the United Kingdom consists mostly of written sources, including statutes, judge made case law, and international treaties. As there is no technical difference between ordinary statutes and “constitutional law,” the UK Parliament can perform “constitutional reform” simply by passing Acts of Parliament and thus has the power to change or abolish almost any written or unwritten element of the constitution. However, no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change.

The UK has a parliamentary government based on the Westminster system that has been emulated around the world — a legacy of the British Empire. The Parliament of the United Kingdom that meets in the Palace of Westminster has two houses: an elected House of Commons and an appointed House of Lords, and any Bill passed requires Royal Assent to become law. It is the ultimate legislative authority in the United Kingdom since the devolved parliament in Scotland and devolved assemblies in Northern Ireland, and Wales are not sovereign bodies and could be abolished by the UK parliament despite being established following public approval as expressed in referenda.

The position of Prime Minister, the UK’s head of government, belongs to the Member of Parliament who can obtain the confidence of a majority in the House of Commons, usually the current leader of the largest political party in that chamber. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are formally appointed by the Monarch to form Her Majesty’s Government. Though the Prime Minister chooses the Cabinet, and by convention HM The Queen respects the Prime Minister’s choices. The Cabinet is traditionally drawn from members of the Prime Minister’s party in both legislative houses, and mostly from the House of Commons, to which they are responsible. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and Cabinet, all of whom are sworn into Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, and become Ministers of the Crown. The Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, leader of the Labour Party, has been Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service since 27 June 2007.

For elections to the House of Commons, the UK is currently divided into 646 constituencies, with 529 in England, 18 in Northern Ireland, 59 in Scotland and 40 in Wales, though this number will rise to 650 at the next General Election. Each constituency elects one Member of Parliament by simple plurality. General Elections are called by the Monarch when the Prime Minister so advises. Though there is no minimum term for a Parliament, the Parliament Act (1911) requires that a new election must be called within five years of the previous general election.

The UK’s three major political parties are the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, and the Liberal Democrats, who won between them 616 out of the 646 seats available in the House of Commons at the 2005 general election. Most of the remaining seats were won by parties that only contest elections in one part of the UK such as the Scottish National Party (Scotland only), Plaid Cymru (Wales only), and the Democratic Unionist Party, Social Democratic and Labour Party, Ulster Unionist Party, and Sinn Féin (Northern Ireland only, though Sinn Féin also contests elections in Ireland). In accordance with party policy, no elected Sinn Féin Member of Parliament has ever attended the House of Commons to speak in the House on behalf of their constituents as Members of Parliament are required to take an oath of allegiance to the Monarch.

For elections to the European Parliament, the UK currently has 78 MEPs, elected in 12 multi-member constituencies, though this total will drop to 72 at the 2009 elections. Questions over sovereignty have been brought forward due to the UK’s membership of the European Union.

People Population: 60,943,912 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.9% (male 5,287,590/female 5,036,881)
15-64 years: 67.1% (male 20,698,645/female 20,185,040)
65 years and over: 16% (male 4,186,561/female 5,549,195) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39.9 years
male: 38.8 years
female: 41 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.276% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.65 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.05 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.17 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.93 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.49 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.85 years
male: 76.37 years
female: 81.46 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.66 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 51,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 500 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Briton(s), British (collective plural)
adjective: British
Ethnic groups: white (of which English 83.6%, Scottish 8.6%, Welsh 4.9%, Northern Irish 2.9%) 92.1%, black 2%, Indian 1.8%, Pakistani 1.3%, mixed 1.2%, other 1.6% (2001 census)
Religions: Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) 71.6%, Muslim 2.7%, Hindu 1%, other 1.6%, unspecified or none 23.1% (2001 census)
Languages: English, Welsh (about 26% of the population of Wales), Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has completed five or more years of schooling
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 5.6% of GDP (2005)
Government Country name: conventional long form: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; note – Great Britain includes England, Scotland, and Wales
conventional short form: United Kingdom
abbreviation: UK
Government type: constitutional monarchy
Capital: name: London
geographic coordinates: 51 30 N, 0 10 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
note: applies to the United Kingdom proper, not to its overseas dependencies or territories
Administrative divisions: England: 34 two-tier counties, 32 London boroughs and 1 City of London or Greater London, 36 metropolitan counties, 46 unitary authorities
two-tier counties: Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Durham, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Worcestershire
London boroughs and City of London or Greater London: Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, City of London, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, Westminster
metropolitan counties: Barnsley, Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Bury, Calderdale, Coventry, Doncaster, Dudley, Gateshead, Kirklees, Knowlsey, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Oldham, Rochdale, Rotherham, Salford, Sandwell, Sefton, Sheffield, Solihull, South Tyneside, St. Helens, Stockport, Sunderland, Tameside, Trafford, Wakefield, Walsall, Wigan, Wirral, Wolverhampton
unitary authorities: Bath and North East Somerset, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bracknell Forest, Brighton and Hove, City of Bristol, Darlington, Derby, East Riding of Yorkshire, Halton, Hartlepool, County of Herefordshire, Isle of Wight, City of Kingston upon Hull, Leicester, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North Somerset, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Reading, Redcar and Cleveland, Rutland, Slough, South Gloucestershire, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Telford and Wrekin, Thurrock, Torbay, Warrington, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham, York
Northern Ireland: 26 district council areas
district council areas: Antrim, Ards, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Belfast, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Coleraine, Cookstown, Craigavon, Derry, Down, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Larne, Limavady, Lisburn, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newry and Mourne, Newtownabbey, North Down, Omagh, Strabane
Scotland: 32 unitary authorities
unitary authorities: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, The Scottish Borders, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian
Wales: 22 unitary authorities
unitary authorities: Blaenau Gwent; Bridgend; Caerphilly; Cardiff; Carmarthenshire; Ceredigion; Conwy; Denbighshire; Flintshire; Gwynedd; Isle of Anglesey; Merthyr Tydfil; Monmouthshire; Neath Port Talbot; Newport; Pembrokeshire; Powys; Rhondda, Cynon, Taff; Swansea; The Vale of Glamorgan; Torfaen; Wrexham
Dependent areas: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands
Independence: England has existed as a unified entity since the 10th century; the union between England and Wales, begun in 1284 with the Statute of Rhuddlan, was not formalized until 1536 with an Act of Union; in another Act of Union in 1707, England and Scotland agreed to permanently join as Great Britain; the legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland was implemented in 1801, with the adoption of the name the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 formalized a partition of Ireland; six northern Irish counties remained part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland and the current name of the country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was adopted in 1927
National holiday: the UK does not celebrate one particular national holiday
Constitution: unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice
Legal system: based on common law tradition with early Roman and modern continental influences; has nonbinding judicial review of Acts of Parliament under the Human Rights Act of 1998; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); Heir Apparent Prince CHARLES (son of the queen, born 14 November 1948)
head of government: Prime Minister James Gordon BROWN (since 27 June 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually the prime minister
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of House of Lords (618 seats; consisting of approximately 500 life peers, 92 hereditary peers, and 26 clergy) and House of Commons (646 seats since 2005 elections; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms unless the House is dissolved earlier)
elections: House of Lords – no elections (note – in 1999, as provided by the House of Lords Act, elections were held in the House of Lords to determine the 92 hereditary peers who would remain there; elections are held only as vacancies in the hereditary peerage arise); House of Commons – last held 5 May 2005 (next to be held by June 2010)
election results: House of Commons – percent of vote by party – Labor 35.2%, Conservative 32.3%, Liberal Democrats 22%, other 10.5%; seats by party – Labor 355, Conservative 198, Liberal Democrat 62, other 31; seats by party in the House of Commons as of 21 November 2008 – Labor 350, Conservative 192, Liberal Democrat 63, Scottish National Party/Plaid Cymru 10, Democratic Unionist 9, Sinn Fein 5, other 17
note: in 1998 elections were held for a Northern Ireland Assembly (because of unresolved disputes among existing parties, the transfer of power from London to Northern Ireland came only at the end of 1999 and has been suspended four times, the latest occurring in October 2002 and lasting until 8 May 2007); in 1999, the UK held the first elections for a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly, the most recent of which were held in May 2007
Judicial branch: House of Lords (highest court of appeal; several Lords of Appeal in Ordinary are appointed by the monarch for life); Supreme Courts of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (comprising the Courts of Appeal, the High Courts of Justice, and the Crown Courts); Scotland’s Court of Session and Court of the Justiciary
Political parties and leaders: Conservative [David CAMERON]; Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [Peter ROBINSON]; Labor Party [Gordon BROWN]; Liberal Democrats [Nick CLEGG]; Party of Wales (Plaid Cymru) [Ieuan Wyn JONES]; Scottish National Party or SNP [Alex SALMOND]; Sinn Fein (Northern Ireland) [Gerry ADAMS]; Social Democratic and Labor Party or SDLP (Northern Ireland) [Mark DURKAN]; Ulster Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) [Sir Reg EMPEY]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Confederation of British Industry; National Farmers’ Union; Trades Union Congress
International organization participation: ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, C, CBSS (observer), CDB, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, ESA, EU, FAO, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SECI (observer), UN, UN Security Council, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Sir Nigel E. SHEINWALD
chancery: 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 588-6500
FAX: [1] (202) 588-7870
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco
consulate(s): Denver, Orlando
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Robert Holmes TUTTLE
embassy: 24 Grosvenor Square, London, W1A 1AE
mailing address: PSC 801, Box 40, FPO AE 09498-4040
telephone: [44] (0) 20 7499-9000
FAX: [44] (0) 20 7629-9124
consulate(s) general: Belfast, Edinburgh
Flag description: blue field with the red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England) edged in white superimposed on the diagonal red cross of Saint Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), which is superimposed on the diagonal white cross of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland); properly known as the Union Flag, but commonly called the Union Jack; the design and colors (especially the Blue Ensign) have been the basis for a number of other flags including other Commonwealth countries and their constituent states or provinces, and British overseas territories
Culture The culture of the United Kingdom refers to the patterns of human activity and symbolism associated with the British people and the United Kingdom. It is informed by the UK’s history as a developed island country, monarchy, imperial power and, particularly, as consisting of four countries—England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales—which each have their own preserved and distinctive customs and symbolism.

As a direct result of the British Empire, British cultural influence (such as the English language) can be observed in the language and culture of a geographically wide assortment of countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, South Africa, the United States, and the British overseas territories. These states are sometimes collectively known as the Anglosphere. As well as the British influence on its empire, the empire also influenced British culture, particularly British cuisine. Innovations and movements within the wider-culture of Europe have also changed the United Kingdom; Humanism, Protestantism, and representative democracy are borrowed from broader Western culture.

The Industrial Revolution, with its origins in the UK, brought about major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation, and had a profound effect on the socio-economic and cultural conditions of the world. Popular culture of the United Kingdom has impacted upon the world in the form of the British invasion, Britpop and British television broadcasting. British literature and British poetry, particularly that of William Shakespeare, is revered across the world.

Economy Economy – overview: The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is one of the quintet of trillion dollar economies of Western Europe. Over the past two decades, the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil resources, but its oil and natural gas reserves are declining and the UK became a net importer of energy in 2005; energy industries now contribute about 4% to GDP. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance. Since emerging from recession in 1992, Britain’s economy enjoyed the longest period of expansion on record during which time growth outpaced most of Western Europe. The global economic slowdown, tight credit, and falling home prices, however, pushed Britain back into recession in the latter half of 2008 and prompted the BROWN government to implement a number of new measures to stimulate the economy and stabilize the financial markets; these include part-nationalizing the banking system, cutting taxes, suspending public sector borrowing rules, and bringing forward public spending on capital projects. The Bank of England periodically coordinates interest rate moves with the European Central Bank, but Britain remains outside the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and opinion polls show a majority of Britons oppose joining the euro.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $2.279 trillion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $2.787 trillion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 1.1% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $37,400 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 0.9%
industry: 22.8%
services: 76.2% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 31.2 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 18.2%
services: 80.4% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate: 5.5% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 14% (2006 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 28.5% (1999)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 34 (2005)
Investment (gross fixed): 16.7% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.107 trillion
expenditures: $1.242 trillion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: 6 April – 5 April
Public debt: 47.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.8% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: NA
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 5.52% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: NA
Stock of quasi money: NA
Stock of domestic credit: $5.278 trillion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $3.859 trillion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, poultry; fish
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
Electricity – production: 371 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 348.5 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 3.398 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 8.613 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 73.8%
hydro: 0.9%
nuclear: 23.7%
other: 1.6% (2001)
Oil – production: NA
Oil – consumption: 1.763 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – exports: 1.749 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 1.673 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 3.6 billion bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 72.3 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 91.1 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 10.4 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 29.2 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 412 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$72.54 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $468.7 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco
Exports – partners: US 14.2%, Germany 11.1%, France 8.1%, Ireland 8%, Netherlands 6.8%, Belgium 5.3%, Spain 4.5%, Italy 4.1% (2007)
Imports: $645.7 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: manufactured goods, machinery, fuels; foodstuffs
Imports – partners: Germany 14.2%, US 8.6%, China 7.3%, Netherlands 7.3%, France 6.9%, Belgium 4.7%, Norway 4.7%, Italy 4.2% (2007)
Economic aid – donor: ODA, $12.46 billion (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $57.3 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt – external: $10.45 trillion (30 June 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $1.409 trillion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $1.841 trillion (2008 est.)
Currency (code): British pound (GBP)
Currency code: GBP
Exchange rates: British pounds (GBP) per US dollar – 0.5302 (2008 est.), 0.4993 (2007), 0.5418 (2006), 0.5493 (2005), 0.5462 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 33.682 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 71.992 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: technologically advanced domestic and international system
domestic: equal mix of buried cables, microwave radio relay, and fiber-optic systems
international: country code – 44; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and US; satellite earth stations – 10 Intelsat (7 Atlantic Ocean and 3 Indian Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean region), and 1 Eutelsat; at least 8 large international switching centers
Radio broadcast stations: AM 206, FM 696, shortwave 3 (2008)
Radios: 84.5 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 940 (2008)
Televisions: 30.5 million (1997)
Internet country code: .uk
Internet hosts: 8.269 million (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): more than 400 (2000)
Internet users: 40.2 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 449 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 310
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 33
1,524 to 2,437 m: 131
914 to 1,523 m: 79
under 914 m: 59 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 139
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 113 (2007)
Heliports: 11 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 567 km; condensate/gas 22 km; gas 18,980 km; liquid petroleum gas 59 km; oil 4,930 km; oil/gas/water 165 km; refined products 4,444 km (2007)
Railways: total: 16,567 km
broad gauge: 303 km 1.600-m gauge (in Northern Ireland)
standard gauge: 16,264 km 1.435-m gauge (5,361 km electrified) (2006)
Roadways: total: 398,366 km
paved: 398,366 km (includes 3,520 km of expressways) (2006)
Waterways: 3,200 km (620 km used for commerce) (2008)
Merchant marine: total: 518
by type: bulk carrier 33, cargo 67, carrier 5, chemical tanker 61, container 180, liquefied gas 18, passenger 10, passenger/cargo 67, petroleum tanker 23, refrigerated cargo 12, roll on/roll off 24, vehicle carrier 18
foreign-owned: 264 (Cyprus 2, Denmark 62, Finland 1, France 23, Germany 76, Hong Kong 2, Ireland 1, Italy 5, Japan 4, NZ 1, Norway 31, South Africa 3, Spain 1, Sweden 17, Switzerland 1, Taiwan 11, Turkey 2, UAE 9, US 12)
registered in other countries: 391 (Algeria 11, Antigua and Barbuda 9, Argentina 4, Australia 5, Bahamas 56, Barbados 9, Belize 5, Bermuda 3, Brunei 1, Cape Verde 1, Cayman Islands 3, Cyprus 19, Gibraltar 2, Greece 32, Hong Kong 39, India 2, Italy 7, South Korea 1, Liberia 20, Luxembourg 8, Malta 19, Marshall Islands 18, Netherlands 2, Norway 5, Panama 59, Saint Kitts and Nevis 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 14, Sierra Leone 2, Singapore 17, Slovakia 1, Spain 5, Sweden 2, Thailand 5, Tonga 1, US 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Dover, Felixstowe, Immingham, Liverpool, London, Southampton, Teesport (England), Forth Ports, Hound Point (Scotland), Milford Haven (Wales)
Military Military branches: Army, Royal Navy (includes Royal Marines), Royal Air Force
Military service age and obligation: 16-33 years of age (officers 17-28) for voluntary military service (with parental consent under 18); women serve in military services, but are excluded from ground combat positions and some naval postings; must be citizen of the UK, Commonwealth, or Republic of Ireland; reservists serve a minimum of 3 years, to age 45 or 55; 16 years of age for voluntary military service by Nepalese citizens in the Brigade of the Gurkhas; 16-34 years of age for voluntary military service by Papua New Guinean citizens (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 14,729,500
females age 16-49: 14,125,600 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 12,121,602
females age 16-49: 11,616,582 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 400,927
female: 383,593 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 2.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: in 2002, Gibraltar residents voted overwhelmingly by referendum to reject any “shared sovereignty” arrangement between the UK and Spain; the Government of Gibraltar insists on equal participation in talks between the two countries; Spain disapproves of UK plans to grant Gibraltar greater autonomy; Mauritius and Seychelles claim the Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory), and its former inhabitants since their eviction in 1965; most Chagossians reside in Mauritius, and in 2001 were granted UK citizenship, where some have since resettled; in May 2006, the High Court of London reversed the UK Government’s 2004 orders of council that banned habitation on the islands; UK rejects sovereignty talks requested by Argentina, which still claims the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; territorial claim in Antarctica (British Antarctic Territory) overlaps Argentine claim and partially overlaps Chilean claim; Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark’s claim that the Faroe Islands’ continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm
Illicit drugs: producer of limited amounts of synthetic drugs and synthetic precursor chemicals; major consumer of Southwest Asian heroin, Latin American cocaine, and synthetic drugs; money-laundering center