Geography of England

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Geography of England
Satellite image of England
Satellite image, including England
Locational map of England
England in the United Kingdom
Continent Europe
Subregion Great Britain
Western Europe
Area
 - Total
 - Land (%)
 - Water (%)

130,395 km2 (50,346 sq mi)
98%
2%
Coastline 3,200 km (1,988 mi)
Land borders Scotland
96 km (60 mi)
Wales
257 km (160 mi)
Highest point Scafell Pike
978 m (3,209 ft)
Lowest point Holme Fen, -2.75 m (-9 ft)
Longest river River Severn (shared with Wales)
354 km (220 mi) Longest river entirely within England is the River Thames
346 km (215 mi)
Largest inland body of water Windermere
14.73 km2 (5.69 sq mi)
Climate: Oceanic "British" climate
with small areas of Subarctic climate
Terrain: low mountains, hills, forests, lowlands, urban
Natural resources iron, zinc, potash, silica sand, fish, timber, wildlife, petroleum, natural gas, hydropower, wind power, lead, tin, copper, china clay, arable land, and coal
Natural hazards European windstorms, floods, few and small Tornadoes
Environmental issues climate change, rising sea levels, renewable energy, waste disposal, water pollution, population density

England comprises most of the central and southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain, in addition to a number of small islands of which the largest is the Isle of Wight. England is bordered to the north by Scotland and to the west by Wales. It is closer to continental Europe than any other part of mainland Britain, divided from France only by a 33 km (21 mi) sea gap, the English Channel.[1] The 50 km (31 mi) Channel Tunnel,[2] near Folkestone, directly links England to mainland Europe. The English/French border is halfway along the tunnel.[3]

Much of England consists of rolling hills, but it is generally more mountainous in the north with a chain of mountains, the Pennines, dividing east and west. Other hilly areas in the north and Midlands are the Lake District, the North York Moors, and the Peak District. The approximate dividing line between terrain types is often indicated by the Tees-Exe line. To the south of that line, there are larger areas of flatter land, including East Anglia and the Fens, although hilly areas include the Cotswolds, the Chilterns, and the North and South Downs.

The largest natural harbour in England is at Poole, on the south-central coast. Some regard it as the second largest harbour in the world, after Sydney, Australia, although this fact is disputed (see harbours for a list of other large natural harbours).

Climate[edit]

England 1971-2000[4]
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
84
 
7
1
 
 
60
 
7
1
 
 
67
 
9
2
 
 
57
 
12
4
 
 
56
 
15
6
 
 
63
 
18
9
 
 
54
 
21
11
 
 
67
 
21
11
 
 
73
 
18
9
 
 
84
 
14
7
 
 
84
 
10
4
 
 
91
 
7
2
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm

England has a temperate climate, with plentiful rainfall all year round. The seasons are quite variable in temperature, however temperatures rarely fall below −5 °C (23 °F) or rise above 30 °C (86 °F). The prevailing wind is from the south-west, bringing mild and wet weather to England regularly from the Atlantic Ocean. It is driest in the east and warmest in the south, which is closest to the European mainland. Snowfall can occur in winter and early spring, although it is not very common away from high ground. England has warmer maximum and minimum temperatures throughout the year than the other countries of the UK, though Wales has milder minima from November to February, and Northern Ireland has warmer maxima from December to February. England is also sunnier throughout the year, but unlike Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the sunniest month is July, totalling around 192.8 hours.

The highest temperature recorded in England is 38.5 °C (101.3 °F) on 10 August 2003 at Brogdale, near Faversham, in Kent.[5] The lowest temperature recorded in England is −26.1 °C (−15.0 °F) on 10 January 1982 at Edgmond, near Shropshire. The climate of south-west England is rather distinct and somewhat milder than the rest of England, forming its own separate climate. Crops, flowers and plants can be grown much earlier in the south-west than in the rest of England and the UK.

British Isles climatic zones

England mainly lies within climatic zone zone 8, but the Pennines and Cumbrian Mountains lie in the colder zone 7 and south west England, the Irish sea coast, South coast and London lie in the warmer zone 9. A very small area, the Isles of Scilly lie in the warmest zone in the British Isles, zone 10 which is close to Sub-Tropical.

Climate data for England
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.6
(43.9)
6.9
(44.4)
9.3
(48.7)
11.7
(53.1)
15.4
(59.7)
18.1
(64.6)
20.6
(69.1)
20.5
(68.9)
17.5
(63.5)
13.6
(56.5)
9.5
(49.1)
7.4
(45.3)
13.1
(55.6)
Average low °C (°F) 1.1
(34)
1.0
(33.8)
2.4
(36.3)
3.6
(38.5)
6.3
(43.3)
9.1
(48.4)
11.4
(52.5)
11.2
(52.2)
9.3
(48.7)
6.6
(43.9)
3.5
(38.3)
2.0
(35.6)
5.6
(42.1)
Rainfall mm (inches) 84.2
(3.315)
60.1
(2.366)
66.5
(2.618)
56.8
(2.236)
55.9
(2.201)
62.9
(2.476)
54.1
(2.13)
66.7
(2.626)
73.3
(2.886)
83.6
(3.291)
83.5
(3.287)
90.4
(3.559)
838.0
(32.992)
Avg. rainy days 13.4 10.4 12.1 10.1 9.8 9.8 8.5 9.4 10.2 11.8 12.5 13.1 131.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 50.5 67.7 102.5 145.2 189.9 179.4 192.8 184.1 135.0 101.3 65.2 43.9 1,457.4
Source: Met Office[4] (1971–2000 averages)

Geology[edit]

The Geology of England is mainly sedimentary. The youngest rocks are in the south east, progressing in age in a north-westerly direction. The Tees-Exe line marks the division between younger, softer and low-lying rocks in the south east and older, harder, and generally a higher relief in the north-west. The geology of England is recognisable in the landscape of its counties, for instance Cumbria, Kent and Norfolk all have very distinct and very different looks from each other. The geology of Northern England and Western England tends to be somewhat closer to that of its near neighbours, Wales and Scotland, with the geology of Southern England and Eastern England being more aligned with that found across the North Sea and English Channel in Northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Geological features:

Geological resources:

and less abundantly,

Major towns and cities[edit]

London is, by far, the largest urban area in England and one of the largest and busiest cities in the world. Other cities, mainly in central and northern England, are of substantial size and influence. The list of England's largest cities or urban areas is open to debate because, although the normal meaning of city is "a continuously built-up urban area", this can be hard to define, particularly because administrative areas in England often do not correspond with the limits of urban development, and many towns and cities have, over the centuries, grown to form complex urban agglomerations.[6][7] For the official definition of a UK (and therefore English) city, see City status in the United Kingdom.

According to the ONS urban area populations for continuous built-up areas, these are the 15 largest conurbations (population figures from the 2001 census):

Rank Urban Area[8] Population

(2001 Census)

Localities Major localities
1 Greater London Urban Area 8,278,251 67 Croydon, Barnet, Ealing, Bromley
2 West Midlands Urban Area 2,284,093 22 Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall
3 Greater Manchester Urban Area 2,240,230 57 Manchester, Salford, Bolton, Stockport, Oldham
4 West Yorkshire Urban Area 1,499,465 26 Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield
5 Tyneside 879,996 25 Newcastle upon Tyne, North Shields, South Shields, Gateshead, Jarrow
6 Liverpool Urban Area 816,216 8 Liverpool, St Helens, Bootle, Huyton-with-Roby
7 Nottingham Urban Area 666,358 15 Nottingham, Beeston and Stapleford, Carlton, Long Eaton
8 Sheffield Urban Area 640,720 7 Sheffield, Rotherham, Chapeltown, Mosborough/Highlane
9 Bristol Urban Area 551,066 7 Bristol, Kingswood, Mangotsfield, Stoke Gifford
10 Brighton/Worthing/Littlehampton 461,181 10 Brighton, Worthing, Hove, Littlehampton, Shoreham, Lancing
11 Portsmouth Urban Area 442,252 7 Portsmouth, Gosport, Waterlooville, Fareham
12 Leicester Urban Area 441,213 12 Leicester, Wigston, Oadby, Birstall
13 Bournemouth Urban Area 383,713 5 Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, New Milton
14 Reading/Wokingham Urban Area 369,804 5 Reading, Bracknell, Wokingham, Crowthorne
15 Teesside 365,323 7 Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar, Billingham

The largest cities in England are as follows (in alphabetical order):

Physical geography[edit]

Extreme points[edit]

England and Wales from space

The extreme points of England are:

England (mainland)[edit]

England (including islands)[edit]

Topography, mountains and hills[edit]

England is generally lower and flatter than the rest of the UK, but has two main divisions in its form – the lowland areas of the south, east, and Midlands and the more rugged and upland areas of the north and west. East Anglia is the lowest area of England, having no high hills or mountains and hosting an area of the Fens, the lowest area of England. The highest area of England is the North West, which contains England's highest hills and mountains, including its highest – Scafell Pike.

In England, a mountain is officially defined as land over 600 metres, so most fall in Northern England. Some hill and mountain chains in England are:

Islands[edit]

A map of British Isles EEZs and surrounding nations. Internal UK borders are represented by thin lines.
The Isle of Wight

The main English islands by area and population are:

Rank Island Area (sq mi) Area (km²)
1 Isle of Wight 147.09 380.99
2 Isle of Sheppey 36.31 94.04
3 Hayling Island 10.36 26.84
4 Foulness Island 10.09 26.84
5 Portsea Island 9.36 24.25
6 Canvey Island 7.12 18.45
7 Mersea Island 6.96 18.04
8 Walney Island 5.01 12.99
9 Portland 4.44 11.5
10 Wallasea Island 4.11 10.65

English islands by population[edit]

Rank Island Population (2001 UK census)
1 Portsea Island 147,088
2 Isle of Wight 132,731
3 Isle of Sheppey 37,852
4 Canvey Island 37,473
5 Hayling Island 16,887
6 Portland 12,800
7 Walney Island 11,391
8 Mersea Island about 7,200
9 Barrow Island 2,606
10 St Mary's 1,668
11 Thorney Island 1,079
12 Foulness 212
13 Tresco 180
14 Lindisfarne 162
15 St Martins 142
16 Roa Island about 100
17 Bryher 92
18 St Agnes 73
19 Lundy about 35

Rivers[edit]

The longest river in England is the River Severn which has its source in Wales, enters England at its confluence with the River Vyrnwy and flows into the Bristol Channel. The longest river entirely within England is the River Thames which flows through the English and British capital, London. The Vale of York and The Fens host many of England's larger rivers.

Coastline[edit]

England has 4,422 km (2,748 mi) of coastline,[9] much less than the deeply indented Scottish coastline. The English coastline varies a great deal by the seas and regions it borders. The North Sea coast of England is mainly flat and sandy with many dunes and is similar to coastlines across the sea in the Netherlands. The English North Sea coast is an important area of bird life and is a habitat for many shore and wading birds. Along the English Channel, the South Coast builds up into steep, white cliffs at Dover, which are often seen as an iconic symbol of England and Britain.

The White Cliffs of Dover

The South Coast continues to the Isle of Wight, but eventually gives way to the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, a coastline rich in beauty, history and fossils.

Jurassic Coast.

Into Devon and Cornwall, the coastline becomes more rocky and steep, with numerous cliffs and tiny fishing villages along the coastline. This stretch of coastline stretches from Devon to Land's End in Cornwall, the westernmost part of mainland England. The coastline of Devon and Cornwall has similarities to that of Brittany in France directly opposite.

Following the coastline northwards the coast remains much the same as in south Devon and Cornwall but is besides the Celtic Sea until it eventually reaches the Bristol Channel, an important shipping and docking area.

The English coastline re-emerges again in North West England. The coastline here is similar to the North Sea coast in that it is mainly flat and sandy, with the only notable cliffs along this stretch of coast being at St Bees Head in Cumbria. The English Irish Sea coast is an important area of estuaries and bird life, with Wirral being a peninsula bounded by two rivers, the River Dee and the River Mersey. Liverpool and Merseyside are areas of high population and important industry along this coast, with tourist resorts of Southport and Blackpool being further to the north. The English Irish Sea coast hosts two important geographic areas, Morecambe Bay, a large bay, and the Furness and Walney Island areas. Further north into Cumbria the Sellafield Nuclear Power Station lies along this coast. The English section of the Irish Sea coast ends at the border with Scotland in the Solway Firth.

Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast

Seas bordering England are: ..

Largest lakes and reservoirs[edit]

Although the largest nation within the UK, England is relatively absent of large lakes, with many of its former wetlands being drained throughout the Middle Ages. Most of its largest lakes lie within the aptly named Lake District in Cumbria, Northern England.

England's largest lakes
Lake Area
1 Windermere 5.69 sq mi (14.7 km2)
2 Kielder Reservoir 3.86 sq mi (10.0 km2)
3 Ullswater 3.44 sq mi (8.9 km2)
4 Bassenthwaite Lake 2.06 sq mi (5.3 km2)
5 Derwent Water 2.06 sq mi (5.3 km2)

Human geography[edit]

Land use[edit]

The total land area of England is 129,720 km². Crops and fallow land accounts for 30% of the land area, grasses and rough grazing 36%, other agricultural land 5%, forest and woodland 8%, and urban development 21%.[10]

Neighbouring countries[edit]

England has two land borders: a 96 km (60 mi) border with Scotland that follows the Cheviot Hills and a 257 km (160 mi) border with Wales that loosely follows the route of Offa's Dyke. To the west, the Irish Sea separates England from Ireland and the Isle of Man; to the east, the North Sea separates England from Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium and to the south, the English Channel separates England from France and the Channel Islands.

Economic geography[edit]

Main article: Economy of England
Nighttime photograph of illuminated buildings and bridge, with their lights reflected in the water.

England boasts one of the largest economies in Europe and indeed the world, with an average GDP per capita of £22,907. England's economy is usually regarded as a mixed market economy, it has adopted many free market principles in contrast to the Rhine Capitalism of Europe, yet maintains an advanced social welfare infrastructure. The currency in England is the pound sterling, also known as the GBP. England prints its own banknotes which are also circulated in Wales. The economy of England is the largest part of the United Kingdom's economy.

Regional differences:

A map of England divided by the average GVA per capita in 2007 showing the distribution of wealth

The strength of the English economy varies from region to region. GDP, and GDP per capita is highest in London. Generally the Northern and Western areas of England are the poorest, with the Southern and Eastern areas being the richest. The following table shows the GDP (2004) per capita of England as a whole and each of the nine regions.

Rank Place GDP per capita
in Euros
England 26 904
1. London 44 401
2. South East 31 300
3. East of England 27 778
4. South West 27 348
5. East Midlands 26 683
6. West Midlands 25 931
7. North West 25 396
8. Yorkshire and the Humber 25 300
9. North East 22 886

Two of the 10 economically strongest areas in the European Union are in England. Inner London is number 1 with a €71 338 GDP per capita (303% above EU average);Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire is number 7 with a €40 937 GDP per capita (174% above EU average).

Political geography[edit]

England, formerly a kingdom and independent country, united with Scotland to form what would eventually become the UK (Wales was treated as part of England at that time).

England is in a unique and controversial position of being a political entity within the UK and as of 2012 having no self-governance. England is represented by MPs in the British Parliament and matters relating only to England are also dealt with by the UK parliament. England is divided into a number of regions which also send representatives to the European Parliament.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dornbusch, U (October 2002). "CoastView - What happens offshore?". University of Sussex. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "TravelBritain  – Kent". 
  4. ^ a b "England 1971–2000 averages". Met Office. 2001. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  5. ^ Temperature record changes hands BBC News, 30 September 2003. Retrieved 12 September 2006.
  6. ^ "Religious centres recover city status", The Guardian, 8 July 1994.
  7. ^ Patrick O'Leary, "Derby's long road to city status", The Times, 29 July 1977, p.14
  8. ^ Pointer, Graham (2005). "The UK’s major urban areas". Focus on People and Migration. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  9. ^ "England Coast Path: Frequently Asked Questions (June 2012)". Natural England. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  10. ^ National Statistics (2004). UK 2005. The Official Yearbook of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. London: The Stationery Office. p. 279. ISBN 0-11-621738-3.