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  • Vatican City!

    Vatican City: Vatican Museums. Go Now!

    Vatican City
    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

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  • Austria!

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United KingdomThe full name, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland sufficiently describes the meaning of the name. Great Britain is the name of the large island, as well as the name of the united countries of England, Scotland, and Wales.


The United Kingdom is a country that unites four nations, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and with this comes incredible cultural diversity. Each of these people have a distinct history, which at many times conflicted with the others, but today there seems to be relative peace and stability. In fact, today the cultures and, in particular, the lifestyles of these people are becoming more and more similar, primarily due to a shared economy, political system, as well as advancements in technology, communication, and infrastructure.

For much of history these people were divided politically and culturally, although they generally shared a lifestyle. Despite the diverse geography and landscapes in the British Isles, the people lived off the lands. These landscapes also helped create the diverse people as the mountains of Wales isolated the people there, the hilly countryside of Scotland maintained their freedom, and the island of Ireland encouraged a distinct culture to flourish.

Over time the English grew more and more powerful and began to spread their influence to these other regions. This was more than just a conflict of politics and power, it was a battler between cultures. The Welsh, Scottish, Irish, and English all spoke differing languages, they all ate different foods, maintained different lifestyles, and clung to differing beliefs. With English dominance over the isles the English language was stressed, Christianity was spread (although most people already were Christian), and English culture began to dominate the region.

Despite resistance and battles, the English were fairly successful in spreading their cultural influence over the people, although aspects of Welsh, Scottish, and Irish culture are still very noticeable today. In fact, in recent years there has been a resurgence of these cultures as the people can now openly express their opinions with fear of political retributions.

English influence and power expanded beyond just the British Isles as they became a world power. This helped introduce new ideas and people to the country, while also exporting British ideals and values. Among these exports was the Industrial Revolution, which changed the world in many ways, but most significantly in terms of lifestyle, healthcare, technology, including in communication and infrastructure. This shrunk the world in many ways and today much of the world is as it is today due to British influence.

Despite the complete change in lifestyle for many people, the cultures abroad and domestically remained fairly loyal to their past. The country may share similarities in terms of urbanization, occupations, communication, and transportation, but culturally, all the people of the United Kingdom remain unique. The Welsh, Scots, Irish, and English all maintain culturally significant traditions, languages, foods, and more. In fact, the United Kingdom is becoming even more culturally diverse each year as immigrants are bringing cultures from other European Union countries as well as from all corners of the globe to these relatively small islands, particularly to the thriving metropolis of London.

The large "t"-shaped cross on the flag is the cross of St. George, the patron saint of England. The diagonal, "x"-shaped cross is the cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The white diagonal, "x"-shaped cross is that of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. The flag is officially called the "Union Flag," but is more often referred to as the "Union Jack."

Name: United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland
Independence: April 12, 1927 (current government formed); 1066 widely recognized
Capital: London
Currency: Pound Sterling
Population: 63,395,574 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, & others
Language: English
Religion: Christian

Information for the United Kingdom was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks