The Four Divisions of the United Kingdom

The Palace of Westminster in London, England.

The United Kingdom (UK) is a unitary sovereign state made up of four countries within its territory. These countries include England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The general matters of the latter three countries are handled by their respective governments, as a result of the devolution process in which the UK Parliament granted some powers to the governments of these countries. However, certain special cases of these countries are handled by the Government of Britain and the Parliament of the UK. However, all matters of governance in England rest solely in the hands of the UK Parliament, which operates in London, the capital city. In total, the UK has an area of 248,531.52 square km and a population of 63.7 million. England, Scotland, and Wales are located on the island of Great Britain while Northern Ireland is located on the island of Ireland.


England forms over 60% of the island of Great Britain. The country encompasses a land area of 132,937.69 square km and has a population of 53.5 million. London is the capital and most populous city of England. Scotland and Wales form the land borders of England to the north and west, respectively. England is surrounded by the Irish Sea to the northwest, while the Celtic Sea washes the southwestern shores of the country. The North Sea and the English Channel separate England from the rest of continental Europe. 


Scotland occupies an area of 80,239.47 square km, and accounts for about one-third of the total area of the island of Great Britain. England borders Scotland to the south, while the rest of the country is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Scotland has a population of 5.3 million. The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh. Scotland is famous for its outstanding landscapes and natural beauty.


Wales is also located on the western edge of the island of Great Britain and shares its eastern borders with England. The country has coastlines along the Bristol Channel and the Irish Sea. The total length of the coastline is 2,700 km. Wales covers an area of 21,224.63 square km and had a population of 3.1 million in 2011. The capital of Wales in Cardiff. Wales has a mountainous landscape, with the highest elevation being Snowdon, which is 3,560 ft above sea-level.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is located on the northeastern part of the island of Ireland. The island of Ireland is shared with the Republic of Ireland, which borders Northern Ireland to the west and south. The population of Northern Ireland accounts for 30% of the island’s population, which was 1.8 million in 2011. The country covers an area of 14,129.72 square km. Belfast is the capital and most populous city of Northern Ireland.

History of the United Kingdom

The four nations that compose the United Kingdom came as a result of a series of unions and dissolutions over the past several hundred years. In 1701, the Acts of Union joined the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England, which was composed of England and Wales, to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Kingdom of Ireland joined in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922, the Irish Free State seceded from the Kingdom, resulting in it being renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Irish Free State remained a Dominion until 1937 and became the Republic of Ireland in 1949.

The Four Divisions of the United Kingdom

FeatureUKEnglandScotlandWalesNorthern Ireland
Area (km2)248,531.52132,937.6980,239.4721,224.6314,129.72
Population (millions)63.753.
Pop. Density (per km2)26341168148135
Highest MountainBen Nevis (1,344 metres)Scafell Pike (978 metres)Ben Nevis (1,344 metres)Snowdon (1,085 metres)Slieve Donard (852 metres)
Longest RiverSevern (354km)Thames (346km)Tay/Tummel (188km)Towy (121km)Bann (122km)
Largest LakeLough Neagh (392km2)Windermere (14.7km2)Loch Lomond (71km2)Lake Vyrnwy (4.5km2)Lough Neagh (392km2)

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