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Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of the United Kingdom

Geography

British Geography - English countryside
English countryside

The United Kingdom consists of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and a number of islands off the coasts of these two larger islands. The country is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean (west), the English Channel (southeast), the North Sea (east), and the Norwegian Sea (north). The United Kingdom sits just off the northwest coast of mainland Europe across the water from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and further north, Norway. The only land border the United Kingdom has is with Ireland, which controls the southern portion of the island of Ireland.

British Geography - Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway

Geographically, the United Kingdom is primarily flat, with the exceptions of Wales and Scotland. Much of Scotland (northern third of Great Britain) is hilly, with numerous lakes and rivers carving out the landscape. Wales (peninsula off of western Great Britain) has fewer hills, but those they do have tend to be more isolated and rocky. England is much flatter and predictable, but this has also made the land and region ideal for agriculture and living, creating an incredibly high population density. Northern Ireland is also fairly flat and again has a high population density.

Weather

British Geography - Scottish highlands
Scottish highlands

The United Kingdom is a fairly large country with a number of weather variations based on season and location due to the country's geography and other factors, such as the North Atlantic Jetstream, which brings warm waters and weather from North America's Caribbean Sea. This Jetstream also brings a lot of rain, particularly along the exposed west coast.

Winters (December-February) are the season with the most rain in the United Kingdom, but they rarely receive snow so when they do it can shut down the roads and create chaos. For the most part, winters bring more rain and clouds than anything else, although the Scottish highlands can receive a bit of snow that will remain for a couple months. The average low in London during this time is about 36-40˚ F (2-4˚ C).

The spring and fall (autumn) tend to be warm as the sun is more commonly seen. This is especially true late spring (April-May) or early fall (September). Wales is perhaps an exception to this given that it receives a lot of rain in the fall, but many years this rain doesn't truly begin until late September. Throughout the isles though, this is still the United Kingdom so rain comes and goes sporadically.

Summers in the Scottish highlands can get very cool and rainy as the fog can come in quickly, but this region still averages about 55-65˚ F (13-18˚ C) during the summer days. The rest of the country is fairly consistent though as Edinburgh and London average about 60-70˚ F (16-21˚ C) during the summers.

Wildlife

British Geography - Welsh mountains
Welsh mountains

There are few large mammals left in the United Kingdom, although wolves and bears were native to the region before being hunted to extinction. Today there is little more than a few deer species and various small mammals, like the hedgehog and squirrel. As a nation made of islands, there are also plenty of fish in the waters surrounding the country and also freshwater fish, including the salmon.

The United Kingdom is also home to hundreds of bird species, many of which migrate to and from the isles due to the colder winters. Finally, there are various small amphibians and reptiles.

This page was last updated: November, 2013