was formed 400,000 years ago when a huge glacial lake burst, releasing one million cubic metres of water per second that carved out the channel and the famous white cliffs. Thus was formed the island we now know as Great Britain which, together with Northern Ireland, makes up the United Kingdom, also known as Britain.
Got that? These days over
400 ships go through the channel
every day, which is very shallow – only 30m deep in places.
The UK is 244,820 square kilometres, the 79th largest country in the world, taking up
0.16% of the world’s surface.
It’s just under half the size of France, and is made up of
of which 291 are inhabited.
1.34% of the UK is under water
and parks cover 15.3%, 8% of the country is made up of cities, towns or big villages, and 88% of the population lives in them. There are
66 cities in the UK
– 50 in England, six in Scotland, five in Wales and five in Northern Ireland.
Our main crop is wheat, covering 8% of the UK and producing about 15.5 million tonnes each year. There are 100 hectares in a square kilometre, and 126 hectares of England is being used to grow mushrooms on.
Trafalgar Square is exactly one hectare.
11% of the UK is covered in forest, and 76% is farmland (although only a quarter of this has crops on it – the rest is grazing land).
The longest river is
the Severn at 354km long,
closely followed by the Thames at 338km.
Loch Morar in Scotland is 310m deep
– the UK’s deepest water. Great Britain is just under 1,000km from north to south, and has a coastline of 14,549km. The mean annual temperature in the far north of Scotland is 6°C, and in south-western England it is 11°C.
It rains one day in three in England,
and in December 1890 Westminster got no sun at all, all month. London and Birmingham have thunder on 15 days of the year.
The earliest human presence in the UK was about 700,000 years ago
when they walked over, bringing their stone tools with them. In 1400BC there were fewer than one million people in Britain, and the short, dark or red-headed Celts came over from Europe to settle in. Julius Caesar invaded in 55BC, and the
Romans ruled until the 5th century AD.
Tall, blond and blue-eyed Germanic people from Europe – the Angles, the Saxons and
the Jutes – arrived in Britain between the
5th and 7th centuries AD, in massive numbers, and the Celts and prehistoric folk fled into the hills of the west. Scandinavians came a-raiding in the 7th century and
settled in with the Anglo-Saxons, and
in 1066 in came the Normans.
These days 85.67% of us are white British, 6.47% white other, 4% South Asian, 2% black, 1.2% mixed race and 0.8% East Asian and other.
The UK population has increased by 8% since 1971,
and the rate of growth is getting faster. The resident population is 60,587,000, of which 50,763,000 live in England. This makes the UK the
22nd most populous country,
with 0.91% of the world’s population. Our closest neighbours for population are the Democratic Republic of Congo (0.94%) and Italy (0.89%). China has 19.85% of the world’s people!
The UK average age is 39 years old.
30,000 animal species live in Britain. There are 13 million dogs and cats in our midst, and
in the UK – 82% of them live in England. We spend 19 minutes a day on gardening and pet care.
The average age of women giving birth is 29.1, while the fertility rate for women aged 40 and over is rising, with 11.4 live births per thousand women aged 40 to 44 – more than double what it was in 1986. Jack is the number one boys’ name and has been for years, while Grace is new in for the girls.
5,803 boys called Thomas were born last year
(the second most popular), and 4,355 Rubys took the second place for the girls. Every year since 1901, with the exception of 1976, there have been
more births than deaths
in the UK– this is ‘natural change’. Natural change accounts for 45% of total change, the rest being down to migration. People are on the move within the UK too, mostly moving from south to north – 35,000 people moved north in 2003!
London loses 60,000 people annually
to internal migration.
3,896,000 Americans visited the UK last year; the next keenest visitors were the French, then Germans, then Irish.
80% of Brits own passports,
compared to 24% in 1984, and nearly two million Brits have made use of them to leave the country for good during the decade from 1997 to 2006 – the highest number in a century.
No one in the UK lives more than 120km from the sea.
Brits take 22.5 million overnight trips to the UK seaside every year. Another 270 million people go for the day, spending
an average of 3.9 hours at the beach,
in groups of 3.5 people, although a whole quarter of seaside visitors went on their own.
British cars drove 398.1 billion kilometres around the country in 2004.
The number of kilometres flown by UK airline passengers was 80 billion in 1985 but by 2005 it was 287 billion. 97% of those kilometres were on international flights. Over
4.7 billion bus journeys
are made per year in Great Britain (over a third of them in London), and
2.2 billion train journeys.
60% of all train travel is commuting. In May and June last year 75% of buses (outside London) departed on time.
87% of people in the UK like the area they live in.
The average home size is 97.6 square metres, and 68% of homes are owned. Each person in England makes
513kg of household waste
Since 2003/4, there’s been a
10% rise in eating fruit at home,
and a 30% rise in eating fruit outside the home! We each eat 810g of potato a week, 692g of bread, but only 87g of pasta.
We eat 7g of herring
and 1.5 eggs. We spend £24.28 on eating in and £11.54 on eating out each week. A bottle of whisky is sold at Heathrow every seven seconds. There are 12 million smokers in the UK and 16% have their first cigarette within five minutes of waking up.
The average time spent brushing teeth is only 46 seconds
– it should be more like three minutes. Tut tut.
The UK average
weekly pocket money is £6.30
for seven to 12 year-olds and £9.76 for 12 to 16 year-olds. On average
men lose their virginity aged 16.9,
while women wait until they’re 17.4.
45% of marriages will end in divorce,
half of these divorces before the tenth anniversary. If your marriage lasts a decade the likelihood of divorce falls to 31%, and if it lasts 20 years there’s just a 15% chance of a split.
In the 2001 census
390,000 people wrote ‘Jedi’
as their religion. 68% of Brits believe in ghosts, and 55% believe in God.
Women get on average eight hours and 18 minutes of sleep
a night while men get 14 minutes less, and women spend more time ‘resting’ too – 48 minutes to men’s 43 minutes. 20% of people in the UK are on social networking sites.
40% of emails are spam.
Only 3% of homes don’t have TVs and
the UK watches 3.6 hours of telly
a day, Scotland and the North of England watch four hours, but it’s dropping everywhere – by 2.7% in the UK as a whole, and 5% in Scotland.
People spend 28 minutes reading,
and this article takes on average 6.6 minutes to read, so you’ve got 21.4 minutes left to do today.