The island state, which is surrounded by the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea and the English Channel and extends between 50 ° and 61 ° north latitude, includes the island of Great Britain v. a. the Isles of Wight (in the south) and Anglesey (in the Irish Sea), the Isles of Scilly (in the southwest), the Hebrides (in the northwest), the Orkney and Shetland Islands (in the north) and the northeast part of the island of Ireland. The islands sit on the north-west European continental shelf (British Isles).
No part of the country is more than 130 km from the coast. The central and southern part of the main island of Great Britain is made up of England. It is mainly occupied by hilly landscapes and plains. Low mountain forms occur only in the Pennine Mountains (up to 893 m above sea level), in the Cumbrian Mountains (up to 978 m above sea level), in the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish border (up to 816 m above sea level) and in individual granite massifs in the southwest (up to 622 m above sea level). As a broad peninsula of Great Britain, the mountains of Wales (up to 1,085 m above sea level) protrude to the west. The northern part is mainly mountainous Scotland with the highest peak in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ben Nevis (1,345 m above sea level).
Northern Ireland is mainly occupied by mountain and hill country, in its central lowlands lies the largest lake (396 km 2) of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Lough Neagh.
The majority of the population are English, as well as Welsh, Scots and Irish. At 9.23% (2017), the proportion of foreigners is well above the average for the EU (7.55%). Most of the immigrants come from the former British colonies, the EU countries and China. – English is spoken throughout the kingdom. Welsh is spoken by around 20% of the population of Wales, while Scottish Gaelic is rarely used (with around 60,000 residents).
Population growth increased towards the end of the 18th century. It is estimated that the population of England and Wales increased from around 5 to around 6 million between 1740 and 1770. The first census in 1801 showed England and Wales 8.9 million, Scotland 1.6 million and what is now Northern Ireland (1921) 1.38 million residents. After that, the population continued to grow rapidly; by 1901 in England and Wales by 265% to 32.5 million residents and in Scotland by 177% to 4.47 million residents, while Northern Ireland since the population peak in 1841 from 1.65 million a population decrease of 25% to 1, 25 million residents. The population increase then flattened out significantly: in England and Wales +76.6% to (2014) 57.4 million residents and in Scotland +18.6% to 5.3 million residents.
The largest cities in Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Compared to 1951, the total population grew by almost 25% to (2018) 66.5 million residents. Until the mid-1990s, the natural population development was primarily responsible for this trend, and from that point on it was mainly the increase in international immigration. During 1880-1890 and between 1900 and the First World War and later during the economic crisis of the interwar years a strong emigration influenced the population growth (emigration destinations: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA, South Africa and the former Rhodesia) prevailed after the Second World War the Immigration. Increased immigration occurred after 1950 from the Republic of Ireland and from the Commonwealth countries, in particular from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the West Indies. Immigration has only been possible to a limited extent since 1962–68. In 2017, 6.1 million residents (9.23% of the total population) were foreigners. In addition, 162,300 people were registered as refugees in the UK at the end of 2017.
Since industrialization, Great Britain and Northern Ireland have seen significant internal migration, mainly between rural areas and rapidly growing industrial areas. A highly urbanized, high population density zone runs from the London area in a north-westerly direction across the West Midlands to Merseyside (Liverpool) and Greater Manchester. The economic decline of the old industrial areas has led to strong north-south-directed migratory flows since around 1960, especially to the south-east with the London area. Additional population shifts within the region (migration from the core city to the surrounding area) have contributed to a further strong population increase in the Greater London area. London itself grew by more than 23% between 1981 and 2014 to an absolute population of 8.62 million.
The south coast, which is a preferred residential area for older, affluent population groups, is also experiencing a high population increase. In contrast, the old agglomerations, z. In England, for example, Greater Manchester, Merseyside with Liverpool, South Yorkshire with Sheffield, the number of residents has largely decreased significantly.
Settlement picture: The open south-east, favored by a dry climate, and the lowland areas south of the Pennine Mountains favored agriculture and, with the arrival of the Normans, were the preferred area for their market-oriented grain farming, combined with open fields and large villages. The more humid mountainous areas of the west and north with a more cattle-based economy, small group settlements or hamlets with arable inner fields around the settlement and a larger outer area used for pasturage stand out clearly. Hamlet-like group settlements with small interior corridors partially existed until the 19th century in the Celtic fringes of Scotland and Northern Ireland. In the Middle Ages, it was mainly the monasteries in the mountainous areas that practiced systematic inland colonization. The settlement image of the lowland areas has undergone a decisive change since the end of the Middle Ages through interconnections (Enclosure), which have been systematically promoted with government support since the 18th century. The result is the block-land landscape with individual farms and numerous large businesses, which is characteristic of many areas of Great Britain and Northern Ireland today and is structured by hedges or stone walls. Since the 18th century, many wealthy landowners created extensive landscape parks (garden art) around their country estates.