|Motto: Dieu et mon droit (French)
"God and my right"
|Anthem: None (de jure)
God Save the Queen, Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory (de facto)
(and largest city)
|Official language(s)||English (de facto)|
|Recognised regional languages||Cornish|
|Ethnic groups (2007
|88.2% White, 5.7% South Asian, 2.8% Black, 1.7% Mixed race, 0.8% Chinese, 0.7% Other|
|-||Monarch||Queen Elizabeth II|
|-||Prime Minister of the United Kingdom||Gordon Brown MP|
|Legislature||Parliament of the United Kingdom|
50,346 sq mi
|GDP (PPP)||2006 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2006 estimate|
|Currency||Pound sterling (
|Time zone||GMT (UTC0)|
|-||Summer (DST)||BST (UTC+1)|
|Patron saint||Saint George|
|1||English is established by de facto usage.|
|3||National Statistics: 2008 Population Estimates.|
|4||Assigned on a UK basis, not constituent country.|
England ( /ˈɪŋɡlənd/ (help·info)) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the North Sea to the east, with the English Channel to the south separating it from continental Europe. Most of England comprises the central and southern part of the island of Great Britain in the North Atlantic. The country also includes over 100 smaller islands such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
The area now called England has been settled by people of various cultures for about 35,000 years, but it takes its name from the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes who settled during the 5th and 6th centuries. England became a unified state in AD 927, and since the Age of Discovery, which began during the 15th century, has had a significant cultural and legal impact on the wider world. The English language, the Anglican Church, and English law—the basis for the common law legal systems of many other countries around the world—developed in England, and the country's parliamentary system of government has been widely adopted by other nations. The Industrial Revolution began in 18th-century England, transforming its society into the world's first industrialised nation. England's Royal Society laid the foundations of modern experimental science.
England's terrain mostly comprises low hills and plains, especially in central and southern England. However, there are uplands in the north (for example, the mountainous Lake District, Pennines, and Yorkshire Dales) and in the south west (for example, Dartmoor and the Cotswolds). London, England's capital, is the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures.[note 1] England's population is about 51 million, around 84% of the population of the United Kingdom, and is largely concentrated in London, the South East and conurbations in the Midlands, the North West, the North East and Yorkshire, which developed as major industrial regions during the 19th century. Meadowlands and pastures are found beyond the major cities.
The Kingdom of England—which after 1284 included Wales—was a sovereign state until 1 May 1707, when the Acts of Union put into effect the terms agreed in the Treaty of Union the previous year, resulting in a political union with the Kingdom of Scotland to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1800, Great Britain was united with Ireland through another Act of Union to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922 the Irish Free State was established as a separate dominion, but the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act in 1927 reincorporated into the kingdom six Irish counties to officially create the current United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The name "England" is derived from the Old English word Englaland, which means "land of the Angles". The Angles were one of the Germanic tribes that settled in England during the Early Middle Ages. The Angles came from the Angeln peninsula in the Bay of Kiel area of the Baltic Sea. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known use of "England" to refer to the southern part of the island of Great Britain occurs in 897, and its modern spelling was first used in 1538.
The earliest attested mention of the name occurs in the 1st century work by Tacitus, Germania, in which the Latin word Anglii is used. The etymology of the tribal name itself is disputed by scholars; it has been suggested that it derives from the shape of the Angeln peninsula, an angular shape. How and why a term derived from the name of a tribe which was less significant than others, such as the Saxons, came to be used for the entire country and its people is not known, but it seems this is related to the custom of calling the Germanic people in Britain Angli Saxones or English Saxons.
An alternative name for England is Albion. The name Albion originally referred to the entire island of Great Britain. The earliest record of the name appears in the Aristotelian Corpus, specifically the 4th century BC De Mundo: "Beyond the Pillars of Hercules is the ocean that flows round the earth. In it are two very large islands called Britannia; these are Albion and Ierne". The word Albion (Ἀλβίων) or insula Albionum has two possible origins. It either derives from the Latin albus meaning white, a reference to the white cliffs of Dover, which is the first view of Britain from the European Continent. An alternative origin is suggested by the ancient merchant's handbook Massaliote Periplus which mentions an "island of the Albiones". Albion is now applied to England in a more poetic capacity. Another romantic name for England is Loegria, related to the Welsh Lloegr, which is derived from Arthurian legend.
The oldest proto-human bones discovered in the area date from 700,000 years ago. The discovery, of Homo erectus remains, was made in what is today Norfolk and Suffolk. Modern humans first arrived in the area around 35,000 years ago; but due to the tough conditions of the Last Ice Age, known specifically in this area as the Devensian glaciation, they fled from Britain to the mountains of southern Europe. Only large mammals such as mammoths, bison and woolly rhinoceros remained. Roughly 11,000 years ago, when the ice sheets began to recede, humans repopulated the area; genetic research suggests they came from the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula. The sea level was lower than now, and Britain was connected by land to both Ireland and Eurasia. As the seas rose, it was separated from Ireland 9,000 years ago and from Eurasia half a century later.
Beaker culture arrived around 2500 BC, and the making of food vessels constructed out of clay and copper was introduced. It was during this time that major Neolithic monuments such as Stonehenge and Avebury were constructed. By heating together tin and copper, both of which were in abundance in the area, the Beaker culture people were able to make bronze, and later iron from iron ores. They were able to spin and weave sheep's wool, from which they made clothing.
During the Iron Age, Celtic culture, deriving from the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures, arrived from Central Europe. The development of iron smelting allowed the construction of better ploughs, advancing agriculture (for instance, with Celtic fields), as well as the production of more effective weapons. Brythonic was the spoken language during this time. Society was tribal; according to Ptolemy's Geographia there were around 20 different tribes in the area, however earlier divisions are unknown because the Britons were not literate. Like other regions on the edge of the Empire, Britain had long enjoyed trading links with the Romans. Julius Caesar of the Roman Republic attempted to invade twice in 55 BC; although largely unsuccessful, he managed to set up a client king from the Trinovantes.
The Romans conquered Britain in AD 43 during the reign of Emperor Claudius, and the area was incorporated into the Roman Empire as Britannia province. The best known of the native tribes who attempted to resist were the Catuvellauni led by Caratacus. Later, an uprising led by Boudica, queen of the Iceni, resulted in her death at the Battle of Watling Street. This era saw a Greco-Roman high culture prevail with the introduction of law and order, Roman architecture, personal hygiene, sewage systems, education, many agricultural items, and silk. In the 3rd century, Emperor Septimius Severus died at York, where Constantine was subsequently proclaimed emperor. Christianity was first introduced around this time, though there are traditions linked to Glastonbury claiming an introduction through Joseph of Arimathea, while others claim through Lucius of Britain. By 410, as their Empire declined, the Romans had left the island, to defend their frontiers in continental Europe.
Following the Roman retreat, Britain was left open to invasion by pagan, seafaring warriors such as Saxons and Jutes who gained control in areas around the south east. The advance was contained for a while after the Britons' victory at the Battle of Mount Badon. The Sub-Roman Brythonic kingdoms in the north, later known collectively by British bards as the Hen Ogledd, were also gradually conquered by Angles during the 6th century. Reliable contemporary accounts from this period are scarce, as is archaeological evidence, giving rise to its description as a Dark Age. There are various conflicting theories on the extent and process of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain; Cerdic, founder of the Wessex dynasty, may have been a Briton. Nevertheless, by the 7th century a coherent set of Anglo-Saxon petty kingdoms known as the Heptarchy had emerged in southern and central Britain: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex.
Christianity was introduced in the south by Augustine from Rome and in the north by Aidan from Ireland. This reintroduced Christianity, which was lost after the founding of the Heptarchy. The title Bretwalda, meaning "Lord of the Britons", denoted the most influential kingship. Northumbria and Mercia were the most dominant forces early on. However, following Viking conquests in the north and east, and the imposition of Danelaw, the premier English kingdom became Wessex under Alfred the Great. His grandson Athelstan unified England in 927, although this was only cemented after Edred defeated the Viking Eric Bloodaxe. King Cnut the Great briefly incorporated England into an empire which also included Denmark and Norway. However the Wessex dynasty was restored under Edward the Confessor.
England was conquered in 1066 by an army led by William the Conquerer from the Duchy of Normandy, a fief of the Kingdom of France. The Normans themselves originated from Scandinavia and had settled in Normandy a few centuries earlier. They introduced feudalism and maintained power through barons, who set up castles across England. The spoken language of the new aristocratic elite was Norman French, which would have considerable influence on the English language.
The House of Plantagenet from Anjou inherited the English throne under Henry II, adding England to the budding Angevin Empire of fiefs the family had inherited in France including Aquitaine. They reigned for three centuries, proving noted monarchs such as Richard I, Edward I, Edward III and Henry V. The period saw changes in trade and legislation, including the signing of the Magna Carta, an English legal charter used to limit the sovereign's powers by law and protect the privileges of freemen. Catholic monasticism flourished, providing philosophers and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge were founded with royal patronage. The Principality of Wales became a Plantagenet fief during the 13th century and the Lordship of Ireland was gifted to the English monarchy by the Pope.
During the 14th century, the Plantagenets and House of Valois both claimed to be legitimate claimants to House of Capet and with it France—the two powers clashed in the Hundred Years' War. The Black Death epidemic hit England, starting in 1348, it eventually killed up to half of England's inhabitants. From 1453 to 1487 civil war between two branches of the royal family occurred—the Yorkists and Lancastrians—known as the Wars of the Roses. Eventually it led to the Yorkists losing the throne entirely to a Welsh noble family the Tudors, a branch of the Lancastrians headed by Henry Tudor who invaded with Welsh and Breton mercenaries, gaining victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field where the Yorkist king Richard III was killed.
The Tudor period would prove to be eventful. The Renaissance reached England through Italian courtiers, who reintroduced artistic, educational and scholary debate from classical antiquity. During this time England began to develop naval skills, including inventing the theodolite and exploring to the West. The catalyst for such explorations, was the Ottoman Empire's control of the Mediterranean Sea, which blocked off trade with the East for the Christian states of Europe.
Henry VIII broke from communion with the Catholic Church, over issues relating to divorce, under the Acts of Supremacy in 1534 which proclaimed the monarch head of the Church of England. Contrary to much of European Protestantism, the roots of the split were more political than theological.[note 2] Tudor also legally incorporated his ancestral land Wales into the Kingdom of England with the 1535–1542 acts. There were internal religious conflicts during the reigns of Henry's daughters; Mary I and Elizabeth I. The former attempted to bring the country back to Catholicism, while the later broke from it again more forcefully asserting the supremacy of Anglicanism.
An English fleet under Francis Drake defeated an invading Spanish Armada during the Elizabethan period. Competing with Spain, the first English colony in the Americas was founded by explorer Walter Raleigh in 1585 and named Virginia. With the East India Company, England also competed with the Dutch and French to the East. The nature of the island was changed, when the Stuart King of Scotland, from a kingdom which was previously a long time rival, inherited the throne of England—creating a personal union under James I in 1603. He styled himself King of Great Britain, despite having no basis in English law.
Based on conflicting political, religious and social positions, there was an English Civil War between the supporters of Parliament and those of king Charles I, known as Roundheads and Cavaliers respectively. This was an interwoven part of the wider multifacited Wars of the Three Kingdoms, involving Scotland and Ireland. The Parliamentarians were victorious, Charles I was executed and the kingdom replaced with the Commonwealth. Leader of the Parliament forces, Oliver Cromwell declared himself Lord Protector in 1653, a period of personal rule followed. By the time of Cromwell's death, England had largely grown weary of Puritan rule, many wanted to patch up old wounds and so Charles II was invited to return as monarch in 1660 with the Restoration. It was now constitutionally established that King and Parliament should rule together, though in practice this was not fully cemeted until the following century. With the founding of the Royal Society, science and the arts were encouraged.
The Great Fire of London in 1666 gutted the capital but it was rebuilt shortly after. In Parliament two factions had emerged—the Tories and Whigs. The former were royalists while the latter were classical liberals. Though the Tories initially supported Catholic king James II, some of them, along with the Whigs deposed him at the Revolution of 1688 and invited Dutch prince William III to become monarch. Some English people, especially in the north were Jacobites and continued to support James and his sons. After the parliaments of England and Scotland both agreed, the two countries joined in political union, to create the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. To accommodate the union, institutions such as the law and national church of each remained separate.
Under the newly formed Kingdom of Great Britain, output from the Royal Society and other English initiatives combined with the Scottish Enlightenment to create innovations in science and engineering. This paved the way for the establishment of the British Empire, which became the largest in history. Domestically it drove the Industrial Revolution, a period of profound change in the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of England, resulting in industrialised agriculture, manufacture, engineering and mining, as well as new and pioneering road, rail and water networks to facilitate their expansion and development. The opening of northwest England's Bridgewater Canal in 1761 ushered in the canal age in Britain. In 1825 the world's first permanent steam locomotive-hauled passenger railway—the Stockton and Darlington Railway—opened to the public.
During the Industrial Revolution, many workers moved from England's countryside to new and expanding urban industrial areas to work in factories, for instance at Manchester and Birmingham, dubbed "Warehouse City" and "Workshop of the World" respectively. England maintained relative stability throughout the French Revolution; William Pitt the Younger was British Prime Minister for the reign of George III. During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon Bonaparte planned to invade from the south-east. However this failed to manifest and the Napoleonic forces were defeated by the British at sea by Lord Nelson and on land by the Duke of Wellington. The Napoleonic Wars fostered a concept of Britishness and a united national British people, shared with the Scots and Welsh.
London became the largest and most populous metropolitan area in the world during the Victorian era, and trade within the British Empire—as well as the standing of the British military and navy—was prestigious. Political agitation at home from radicals such as the Chartists and the suffragettes enabled legislative reform and universal suffrage. Power shifts in east-central Europe led to World War I; thousands of English soldiers died in trenches fighting for the United Kingdom as part of the Allies. Two decades later, in World War II, the United Kingdom again fought for the Allies. Winston Churchill was the wartime Prime Minister. Developments in warfare technology saw many cities damaged by air-raids during The Blitz. Following the war the British Empire experienced rapid decolonisation, as well as a series of technological innovations—automobiles became the primary means of transport and Whittle's development of the jet engine led to wider air travel.
Since the 20th century there has been significant population movement to England, mostly from other parts of the British Isles, but also from the Commonwealth, particularly the Indian subcontinent. Since the 1970s there has been a large move away from manufacturing and an increasing emphasis on the service industry. As part of the United Kingdom, the area joined a common market initiative called the European Economic Community which became the European Union. Since the late 20th century the administration of the United Kingdom has moved towards devolved governance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England and Wales continues to exist as a legal entity within the United Kingdom. Devolution has stimulated a greater emphasis on a more English-specific identity and patriotism. There is no devolved English government, but an attempt to create a similar system on a sub-regional basis was rejected by referendum.
As part of the United Kingdom, the basic political system in England is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. There has not been a Government of England since 1707, when the Acts of Union 1707, putting into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union, joined England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. Before the union England was ruled by its monarch and the Parliament of England. Today England is governed directly by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, although other countries of the United Kingdom have devolved governments. In the House of Commons which is the lower house of the British Parliament based at the Palace of Westminster, there are 529 Members of Parliament for constituencies in England, out of the 646 total.
In the United Kingdom general election, 2005 the Labour Party had the most MPs elected in England with 284, while the Conservative Party had 194 MPs elected although they received a larger percentage of the popular vote than any other party with 35.7%. The third largest party are the Liberal Democrats who had 47 MPs elected. Respect and Health Concern each have one MP, and there is an Independent Labour member originally elected for Labour. The two largest parties are led by Gordon Brown for Labour and David Cameron for the Conservatives.
As the United Kingdom is a member of the European Union, there are elections held regionally in England to decide who is sent as Members of the European Parliament. The 2009 European Parliament election saw the regions of England elect the following MEPs: twenty-three Conservatives, ten Labour, nine United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), nine Liberal Democrats, two Greens and two British National Party (BNP).
Since devolution, in which other countries of the United Kingdom—Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—each have their own devolved parliament or assemblies for local issues, there has been debate about how to counterbalance this in England. Originally it was planned that various regions of England would be devolved, but following the proposal's rejection by the North East in a referendum, this has not been carried out.
One major issue is the West Lothian question, in which MPs from Scotland and Wales are able to vote on legislation affecting only England, while English MPs have no equivalent right to legislate on devolved matters. This when placed in the context of England being the only country of the United Kingdom not to have free cancer treatment, prescriptions, residential care for the elderly and free top-up university fees, has led to a steady rise in English nationalism. Some have suggested the creation of a devolved English parliament, while others have proposed simply limiting voting on legislation which only affects England to English MPs.
The English law legal system, developed over the centuries, is the foundation of many legal systems throughout the Anglosphere. Despite now being part of the United Kingdom, the legal system of the Courts of England and Wales continued as a separate legal system to the one used in Scotland as part of the Treaty of Union. The general essence of English law is that it is made by judges sitting in courts, applying their common sense and knowledge of legal precedent—stare decisis—to the facts before them.
The court system is headed by the Supreme Court of Judicature, consisting of the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Justice for civil cases and the Crown Court for criminal cases. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the highest court for criminal and civil cases in England and Wales, it was created in 2009 after constitutional changes, taking over the judicial functions of the House of Lords. A decision of the highest appeal court in England and Wales, the Supreme Court, is binding on every other court in the hierarchy, which follow its directions.
Crime increased between 1981–1995, though since then there has been 42% fall in crime for the period 1995–2006. The prison population doubled over the same period, giving it the highest incarceration rate in Western Europe at 147 per 100,000. Her Majesty's Prison Service reporting to the Ministry of Justice, manages most prisons, housing over 80,000 convicts.
The subdivisions of England consist of as many as four levels of subnational division controlled through a variety of types of administrative entites. They have been created for the purposes of local government in England. The highest tier of local government are the nine regions of England—North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East, South East, South West, and Greater London. These were created in 1994 as Government Offices, used by the British Government to deliver a wide range of policies and programmes regionally. They are used for electing Members of the European Parliament on a regional basis.
After devolution began to take place in other parts of the United Kingdom it was planned that referendums for the regions of England would take place for their own regional assemblies as a counterweight. London accepted in 1998—the London Assembly was created two years later. However, the proposal was rejected by the northern England devolution referendums, 2004 in the North East, further referendums were cancelled. There are plans to abolish the remaining regional assemblies in 2010 and transfer their functions to respective Regional Development Agencies and new system of Local Authority Leaders’ Boards.
Below the regional level all of England is divided into one of 48 ceremonial counties. These counties are used primarily as a geographical frame of reference and have developed gradually since the Middle Ages, with some established as recently as 1974. Each has a Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff; these posts are used to represent the British monarch locally. Outside Greater London and the Isles of Scilly, England is also divided into 83 metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties; these correspond to areas used for the purposes of local government and may consist of a single district or be divided into several.
There are six metropolitan counties which are based on the most heavily urbanised areas and do not have county councils. In these areas the principle authorities are the councils of the subdivisions, the metropolitan boroughs. 27 non-metropolitan "shire" counties have a county council and are divided into districts, each with a district council. They are typically, though not always, found in more rural areas. The remaining non-metropolitan counties are of a single district and usually correspond to large towns or counties with low populations; they are known as unitary authorities. Greater London has a different system for local governance, with thirty-two London boroughs and the City of London covering a small area at the core, which is governed by the City of London Corporation. At the most localised level, much of England is divided into civil parishes with councils; they do not exist in Greater London.
Geographically England comprises the central and southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain, plus such offshore islands as the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly. It is bordered by two fellow countries of the United Kingdom—to the north by Scotland and to the west by Wales. England is closer to the European Continent than any other part of mainland Britain. It is separated from France by a 34-kilometre (21 mi) sea gap, though the two countries are connected by the Channel Tunnel near Folkestone. As England is on an island, is it surrounded by the water of the Irish Sea, North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
The most important rivers in England, because of their ports of London, Liverpool, and Newcastle, are the tidal rivers Thames, Mersey and Tyne. The tides raise the level of water in their estuaries and enable ships to enter the ports. At 354 kilometres (220 mi), the Severn is the longest river flowing through England. It empties into the Bristol Channel and is notable for its Severn Bore tidal waves, which can reach 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height. However, the longest river entirely in England is the Thames, which is 346 kilometres (215 mi) in length. There are many lakes in England but the majority are in the aptly named Lake District; the largest of which is Lake Windermere, it is known by the nickname "Queen of Lakes".
In geological terms, the Pennines, known as the "backbone of England", are the oldest range of mountains the country, originating from the end of the Paleozoic Era around 300 million years ago. The total length of the Pennines is 400 kilometres (250 mi), peaking at Cross Fell in Cumbria. The material of which they are composed is mostly sandstone and limestone, but also coal. There are karst landscapes in calcite areas such as parts of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The Pennine landscape is high moorland in upland areas, indented by fertile valleys of the region's rivers. They contain three national parks, the Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland, and the Peak District. The highest point in England, at 978 metres (3,209 ft), is Scafell Pike in Cumbria. Straddling the border between England and Scotland are the Cheviot Hills.
The English Lowlands are to the south of the Pennines, consisting of green rolling hills, including the Cotswold Hills, Chiltern Hills, North and South Downs—where they meet the sea they form white rock exposures such as the cliffs of Dover. The granitic Southwest Peninsula in the West Country provides upland moorland, such as Dartmoor and Exmoor, which flourish with a mild climate; both are national parks.
England has a temperate maritime climate meaning that it is mild with temperatures not much lower than 0 °C (32 °F) in winter and not much higher than 32 °C (90 °F) in summer. The weather is damp relatively frequently and is subject to change. The coldest months are January and February, the latter particularly on the English coast, while July is normally the warmest month. Months with mild to warm weather with least rainfall are May, June, September and October.
The biggest influences on the climate of England comes from the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, its northern latitude and warming of the waters around the Gulf Stream. England receives quite a significant proportion of rainfall during the year, with autumn and winter being the wettest time—geographically the Lake District receives more rain than anywhere else in the country. Since weather recording records began, the highest temperature received was 38.5 °C (101.3 °F) on 10 August 2003 at Brogdale in Kent, while the lowest was −26.1 °C (−15 °F) on 10 January 1982 in Edgmond, Shropshire.
|Average high °C (°F)||7
|Average low °C (°F)||1
|Precipitation mm (inches)||84
|Source: Met Office 19 February 2008|
The Greater London Urban Area is by far the largest metropolitan area in England and one of the busiest cities in the world. It is considered a global city and has a population larger than other countries in the United Kingdom besides England itself. Other urban areas of considerable size and influence tend to be in northern England or the English Midlands. There are fifty settlements which have been designated city status in England, while the wider United Kingdom has sixty-six.
While many cities in England are quite large in size, such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Bradford, Nottingham and others, a large population is not necessarily a prerequisite for a settlement to be afforded city status. Traditionally the status was afforded to towns with diocesan cathedrals and so there are smaller cities like Wells, Ely, Ripon, Truro and Chichester. According to the Office for National Statistics the ten largest, continuous built-up urban areas are;
|Rank||Urban Area||Population||Localities||Major localities|
|1||Greater London Urban Area||8,278,251||67||Greater London, divided into the City of London and 32 London boroughs including 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, 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|
|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|
England's economy is one of the largest in in the world, with an average GDP per capita of £22,907. 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 official currency in England is the pound sterling, also known as the GBP. Taxation in England is quite competitive when compared to much of the rest of Europe—as of 2009 the basic rate of personal tax is 20% on taxable income up to £37,400, and 40% on any additional earnings above that amount.
The economy of England is the largest part of the UK's economy, which has the 18th highest GDP PPP per capita in the world. England is a leader in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors and in key technical industries, particularly aerospace, the arms industry, and the manufacturing side of the software industry. London, home to the London Stock Exchange, the UK's main stock exchange and the largest in Europe, is England's financial centre—100 of Europe's 500 largest corporations are based in London. London is the largest financial centre in Europe, and as of 2009 is also the largest in the world.
The Bank of England, founded in 1694 by Scottish banker William Paterson, is the UK's central bank. Originally instituted to act as private banker to the Government of England, it carried on in this role as part of the United Kingdom—since 1946 it has been a state-owned institution. The Bank has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales, although not in other parts of the United Kingdom. Its Monetary Policy Committee has devolved responsibility for managing the monetary policy of the country and setting interest rates.
England is highly industrialised, but since the 1970s there has been a decline in traditional heavy and manufacturing industries, and an increasing emphasis on a more service industry oriented economy. Tourism has become a significant industry, attracting millions of visitors to England each year. The export part of the economy is dominated by pharmaceuticals, automobiles—although many English marques are now foreign-owned, such as Rolls-Royce, Lotus, Jaguar and Bentley—crude oil and petroleum from the English parts of North Sea Oil along with Wytch Farm, aircraft engines and alcoholic beverages. Agriculture is intensive and highly mechanised, producing 60% of food needs with only 2% of the labour force. Two thirds of production is devoted to livestock, the other to arable crops.
The Department for Transport is the government body responsible for overseeing transport in England. There are several motorways in England, one of the most important trunk roads is the A1 Great North Road, stretching across the country from London to Newcastle. The longest motorway in England is the M6, stretching from Rugby to the North West up to the Anglo-Scottish border. There are other major roads; the M1 from London to Leeds, the M25 which encircles London, the M60 which encircles Manchester, the M4 from London to South Wales, the M62 from Liverpool to Manchester and East Yorkshire and the M5 from Birmingham to Bristol and the South West.
Bus transport across the country is common, major companies include National Express, Arriva and Go-Ahead Group. The red double-decker buses in London have become a symbol of England. There is a rapid rail network in two English cities; the London Underground and the Tyne and Wear Metro, the latter in Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland. There are tram networks, such as; Blackpool, Manchester Metrolink, Sheffield Supertram and Midland Metro.
Rail transport in England is the oldest in the world, with the system originating there in 1825. Much of Britain's 16,116 kilometres (10,014 mi) of rail network lies in England, covering the country extensively. These lines are mostly single, double or quadruple track, though there are narrow gauge lines. There is rail transport access to France and Belgium through an undersea rail link, the Channel Tunnel which was completed in 1994.
There are air transport facilities in England connected the public to numerous international locations, the largest airport is London Heathrow Airport which in terms of passenger volume in the busiest in Europe and one of busiest in the world. Other large airports include Manchester Airport, London Stansted Airport, Luton Airport and Birmingham International Airport. By sea there is ferry transport, both for internal and external trips, some of the most common links are to Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Travel by waterways such as rivers, canals, docks is common with around 7,100 km (4,400 mi) of navigable waterways in England, half of which is owned by British Waterways. The Thames is the major waterway in England, with imports and exports focused at the Port of Tilbury, one of the UK's three major ports.
The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded healthcare system in England responsible for providing the majority of healthcare in the country. The NHS began on 5 July 1948, putting into effect the provisions of the National Health Service Act 1946. It was based on the findings of the Beveridge Report, prepared by economist and social reformer William Beveridge. The NHS is largely funded from general taxation including National Insurance payments, it provides most services at no additional cost though there are extra charges associated with eye tests, dental care, prescriptions and aspects of personal care.
The government department responsible for the NHS is the Department of Health, headed by the Secretary of State for Health, who sits in the British Cabinet. Most of the expenditure of the Department of Health is spent on the NHS—£98.6 billion was spent in 2008–2009. In recent years the private sector has been increasingly used to provide more NHS services despite opposition by doctors and trade unions. The average life expectancy of people in England is 77.5 years for males and 81.7 years for females, the highest of the four countries of the United Kingdom.
With over 51 million inhabitants, England is the most populous country of the United Kingdom, accounting for 84% of the combined total. England taken as a unit and measured against international states has the fourth largest population in the European Union and would be the 25th largest country by population in the world. With a density of 395 people per square kilometre, it would be the second most densely populated country in the European Union after Malta.
The English people are a British people—genetic evidence suggests that 75–95% descend in the paternal line from prehistoric settlers who originally came from the Iberian Peninsula. There is a significant Norse element, as well as a 5% contribution from Angles and Saxons, though other geneticists place the Norse-Germanic estimate up to half. Over time various cultures have been influential—Prehistoric, Brythonic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Norse Viking, Gaelic cultures, as well as a large influence from Normans. There is an English diaspora in former parts of the British Empire; especially the United States, Canada, Australia, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand.[note 3] Since the late 1990s, English people have migrated to Spain.
At the time of the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086, more than 90% of the English population of about two million lived in the countryside. By 1801 the population had grown to 8.3 million, and by 1901 had grown to 30.5 million. Due to the economic prosperity in South East England there are many economic migrants from the other parts of the United Kingdom. There has been significant Irish migration, with 25% of English people having Irish ancestry. The European population totals at 89.90%, including Germans and Poles.
Other people from much further afield in the former British colonies have arrived since the 1950s—5.30% of people living in England have migrated from the Indian subcontinent, mostly India and Pakistan. 2.30% of the population are black, mostly from the Caribbean. There is a significant number of Chinese and British Chinese. As of 2007, 22% of primary school children in England were from ethnic minority families. About half of the population increase between 1991–2001 was due to foreign-born immigration. Debate over immigration is politically prominent, according to a Home Office poll 80% of people want to cap it. The ONS has projected that the population will grow by six million between 2004 and 2029.
As its name suggests, the English language, today spoken by hundreds of millions of people around the world, originated as the language of England, where it remains the principal tongue today. An Indo-European language in the Anglo-Frisian branch of the Germanic family, it is closely related to Scots. After the Norman conquest, the Old English language was displaced and confined to the lower social classes as Norman French and Latin were used by the aristocracy.
By the 17th century, English came back into fashion among all classes, though much changed; the Middle English form showed many signs of French influence, both in vocabulary and spelling. During the English Renaissance, many words were coined from Latin and Greek origins. Modern English has extended this custom of flexibility, when it comes to incorporating words from different languages. Thanks in large part to the British Empire, the English language is the world's unofficial lingua franca.
English language learning and teaching is an important economic activity, and includes language schooling, tourism spending, and publishing. There is no legislation mandating an official language for England, but English is the only language used for official business. Despite the country's relatively small size, there are many distinct regional accents, and individuals with particularly strong accents may not be easily understood everywhere in the country.
Cornish, which died out as a community language in the 18th century, is being revived, and is now protected under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It is spoken by 0.1% of people in Cornwall, and is taught to some degree in several primary and secondary schools. State schools teach students a second language, usually French, German or Spanish. Due to immigration, it was reported in 2007 that around 800,000 school students spoke a foreign language at home, the most common being Punjabi and Urdu.
The body responsible for state education in general up to the age of 19, in the United Kingdom is the Department for Children, Schools and Families—this body directly controls state schools in England. Funded through taxation state-run schools are attended by approximately 93% of English schoolchildren. There is a minority of faith schools, mostly Church of England or Catholic Church. Between three and four is nursery school, four and eleven is primary school, and eleven to sixteen is secondary school, with an option for a two-year extension to attend sixth form college.
Although most English secondary schools are comprehensive, there are selective intake grammar schools, to which entrance is subject to passing the eleven plus exam. Around 7.2% of English schoolchildren attend private schools, which are funded by private sources. Standards are monitored by regular inspections of state-funded schools by the Office for Standards in Education and of private schools by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.
After finishing compulsory education, pupils take a GCSE examination, following which they may decide to continue in further education and attend a further education college. Students normally enter universities in the United Kingdom from 18 onwards, where they study for an academic degree. England has more than 90 state-funded universities, which are monitored by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. Students are generally entitled to student loans for maintenance.[note 4] The first degree offered to undergraduates is the Bachelor's degree, which usually takes three years to complete. Students are then eligible for a postgraduate degree, a Master's degree, taking one year, or a Doctorate degree, which takes three.
England has a history of promoting education, and its top institutions are internationally respected. The most acclaimed English universities are Oxford and Cambridge. These two "ancient universities" have many common features and are nowadays known as Oxbridge. The King's School, Canterbury and The King's School, Rochester are the oldest schools in the English-speaking world. Many of England's more well-known schools, such as Winchester College, Eton College, St Paul's School, Rugby School, and Harrow School are fee-paying institutions.
Prominent English figures from the field of science and mathematics include Sir Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Joseph Priestley, J. J. Thomson, Charles Babbage, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, Christopher Wren, Alan Turing, Francis Crick, Joseph Lister, Tim Berners-Lee, Andrew Wiles and Richard Dawkins. Experts claim that the earliest concept of a metric system was invented by John Wilkins, first secretary of the Royal Society in 1668. As birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, England was home to many significant inventors during the late 18th and early 19th century. Famous English engineers include Isambard Kingdom Brunel, best known for the creation of the Great Western Railway, a series of famous steamships, and numerous important bridges, hence revolutionising public transport and modern-day engineering.
Inventions and discoveries of the English include; the first industrial spinning machine, the first computer and the first modern computer, the World Wide Web along with HTTP and HTML, the first successful human blood transfusion, the vacuum cleaner, the lawnmower, the seat belt, the hovercraft, the electric motor, the microphone, steam engines, and theories such as the Darwinian theory of evolution and atomic theory. Newton developed the ideas of universal gravitation, Newtonian mechanics, and infinitesimal calculus, and Robert Hooke his eponymously named law of elasticity. Other inventions include the iron plate railway, the thermosiphon, tarmac, the rubber band, the mousetrap, "cat's eye" road safety device, joint development of the light bulb, steam locomotives, the seed drill, the jet engine and many modern techniques and technologies used in precision engineering.
Christianity is the most widely practised religion in England, as it has been since the Early Middle Ages, although it was first introduced much earlier, in Gaelic and Roman times. It continued through Early Insular Christianity, and today about 71.6% of English people identify as Christians. The largest form practiced in the present day is Anglicanism, dating from the 16th century Reformation period, with the 1536 split from Rome over Henry VIII wanting to divorce Catherine of Aragon, the religion regards itself as both Catholic and Reformed.
There are High Church and Low Church traditions, and some Anglicans regard themselves as Anglo-Catholics, after the Tractarian movement. The monarch of the United Kingdom is the head of the Church, acting as its Supreme Governor. It has the status of established church in England. There are around 26 million adherents to the Church of England and they form part of the Anglican Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury acting as the symbolic worldwide head. Many cathedrals and parish churches are historic buildings of significant architectural importance, such as Westminster Abbey, York Minster, Durham Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral.
The second largest Christian practice is the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, which traces its formal, corporate history in England to the 6th century with Augustine's mission and was the main religion on the entire island for around a thousand years. Since its reintroduction after the Catholic Emancipation, the Church has organised ecclesiastically on an England and Wales basis where there are 4.5 million members (most of whom are English).
There has been one Pope from England to date, Adrian IV; while saints Bede and Anslem are regarded as Doctors of the Church. A form of Protestantism known as Methodism is the third largest and grew out of Anglicanism through John Wesley. It gained popularity in the mill towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and amongst tin miners in Cornwall. There are other non-conformist minorities, such as Baptists, Quakers, Congregationalists, Unitarians and the Salvation Army.
The patron saint of England is Saint George, he is represented in the national flag, as well as the Union Flag as part of a combination. There are many other English and associated saints, some of the best known include; Cuthbert, Alban, Wilfrid, Aidan, Edward the Confessor, John Fisher, Thomas More, Petroc, Piran, Margaret Clitherow and Thomas Becket. There are non-Christian religions practiced. Jews have a history of a small minority on the island since 1070. They were expelled from England in 1290 following the Edict of Expulsion, only to be allowed back in 1656.
Especially since the 1950s Eastern religions from the former British colonies have began to appear, due to foreign immigration; Islam is the most common of these accounting for around 3.1% in England. Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism are next in number adding up to 2% combined, introduced from India and South East Asia. Around 14.6% claim to have no religion. Prior to the rise of Christianity—Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Norse mythology was practised.
Many ancient standing stone monuments were erected during the prehistoric period, amongst the best known are Stonehenge, Devil's Arrows, Rudston Monolith and Castlerigg. With the introduction of Ancient Roman architecture there was a development of basilicas, baths, amphitheaters, triumphal arches, villas, Roman temples, Roman roads, Roman forts, stockades and aqueducts. It was the Romans who founded the first cities and towns such as London, Bath, York, Chester and St Albans. Perhaps the best known example is Hadrian's Wall stretching right across northern England. Another well preserved example is the Roman Baths at Bath, Somerset.
Early Medieval architecture's secular buildings were simple constructions mainly using timber with thatch for roofing. Ecclesiastical architecture ranged from a synthesis of Hiberno—Saxon monasticism, to Early Christian basilica and architecture characterised by pilaster-strips, blank arcading, baluster shafts and triangular headed openings. After the Norman conquest in 1066 various Castles in England were created so law lords could uphold their authority and in the north to protect from invasion. Some of the best known medieval castles include the Tower of London, Warwick Castle, Durham Castle and Windsor Castle amongst others.
Throughout the Plantagenet era an English Gothic architecture flourished—the medieval cathedrals such as Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and York Minster are prime examples. Expanding on the Norman base there was also castles, palaces, great houses, universities and parish churches. Medieval architecture was completed with the 16th century Tudor style; the four-centred arch, now known as the Tudor arch, was a defining feature as were wattle and daub houses domestically. In the aftermath of the Renaissance a form of architecture echoing classical antiquity, synthesised with Christianity appeared—the English Baroque style, architect Christopher Wren was particularly championed.
Georgian architecture followed in a more refined style, evoking a simple Palladian form; the Royal Crescent at Bath is one of the best examples of this. With the emergence of romanticism during Victorian period, a Gothic Revival was launched—in addition to this around the same time the Industrial Revolution paved the way for buildings such as The Crystal Palace. Since the 1930s various modernist forms have appeared whose reception is often controversial, though traditionalist resistance movements continue with support in influential places.[note 5]
English folklore developed over many centuries. Some of the characters and stories are present across England, but most belong to specific regions. Common folkloric beings include pixies, giants, elfs, bogeymen, trolls, goblins and dwarves. While many legends and folk-customs are thought to be ancient, for instance the tales featuring Offa of Angeln and Weyland Smith, others date from after the Norman invasion; Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood and their battles with the Sheriff of Nottingham being, perhaps, the best known.
During the High Middle Ages tales originating from Brythonic traditions entered English folklore—the Arthurian myth. These were derived from Anglo-Norman, French and Welsh sources, featuring King Arthur, Camelot, Excalibur, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table such as Lancelot. These stories are most centrally brought together within Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae.[note 6] Another early figure from British tradition, King Cole, may have been based on a real figure from Sub-Roman Britain. Many of the tales and pseudo-histories make up part of the wider Matter of Britain, a collection of shared British folklore.
Some folk figures are based on semi or actual historical people whose story has been passed down centuries; Lady Godiva for instance was said to have ridden naked on horseback through Coventry, Hereward the Wake was a heroic English figure resisting the Norman invasion, Herne the Hunter is an equestrian ghost associated with Windsor Forest and Great Park and Mother Shipton is the archetypal witch. On 5 November people make bonfires, set off fireworks and eat toffee apples in commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot centred around Guy Fawkes. The chivalrous bandit, such as Dick Turpin, is a recurring character, while Blackbeard is the archetypal pirate. There are various national and regional folk activities, participated in to this day, such as Morris dancing, Maypole dancing, Rapper sword in the North East, Long Sword dance in Yorkshire, Mummers Plays, bottle-kicking in Leicestershire, and cheese-rolling at Cooper's Hill. There is no official national costume, but a few are well established such as the Pearly Kings and Queens associated with cockneys, the Royal Guard, the Morris costume and Beefeaters.
Since the Early Modern Period the food of England has historically been characterised by its simplicity of approach, honesty of flavour, and a reliance on the high quality of natural produce. During the Middle Ages and through the Renaissance period, English cuisine enjoyed an excellent reputation, though a decline began during the Industrial Revolution with the move away from the land and increasing urbanisation of the populace. The French sometimes referred to English people as les rosbifs, as a stereotype to suggest English food is unsophisticated or crude. The cuisine of England has, however, recently undergone a revival, which has been recognised by the food critics with some good ratings in Restaurant's best restaurant in the world charts. An early book of English recipes is the Forme of Cury from the royal court of Richard II.
Traditional examples of English food include the Sunday roast; featuring a roasted joint, usually beef, lamb or chicken, served with assorted boiled vegetables, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Other prominent meals include fish and chips and the full English breakfast—consisting of bacon, grilled tomatoes, fried bread, black pudding, baked beans, fried mushrooms, sausages and eggs. Various meat pies are consumed such as steak and kidney pie, shepherd's pie, cottage pie, Cornish pasty and pork pie, the later of which is consumed cold.
Sausages are commonly eaten, either as bangers and mash or toad in the hole. Lancashire hotpot is a well known stew. Some of the most popular cheeses are Cheddar and Wensleydale. Many Anglo-Indian hybrid dishes, curries, have been created such as chicken tikka masala and balti. Sweet English dishes include apple pie, mince pies, spotted dick, scones, Eccles cakes, custard and sticky toffee pudding. Common drinks include tea, which became far more widely drunk due to Catherine of Braganza, while alcoholic drinks include wines and English beers such as bitter, mild, stout, and brown ale.
The earliest known examples are the prehistoric rock and cave art pieces, most prominent in North Yorkshire, Northumberland and Cumbria, but also feature further south, for example at Creswell Crags. With the arrival of Roman culture in the 1st century, various forms of art utilising statues, busts, glasswork and mosaics were the norm. There are numerous surviving artefacts, such as those at Lullingstone and Aldborough. During the Early Middle Ages the style was sculpted crosses and ivories, manuscript painting, gold and enamel jewellery, demonstrating a love of intricate, interwoven designs such as in the Staffordshire Hoard discovered in 2009. Some of these blended Gaelic and Anglian styles, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and Vespasian Psalter. Later Gothic art was popular at Winchester and Canterbury, examples survive such as Benedictional of St. Æthelwold and Luttrell Psalter.
The Tudor era saw prominent artists as part of their court, portrait painting which would remain an enduring part of English art, was boosted by German Hans Holbein, natives such as Nicholas Hilliard built on this. Under the Stuarts, Continental artists were influential especially the Flemish, examples from the period include—Anthony van Dyck, Peter Lely, Godfrey Kneller and William Dobson. The 18th century was a time of significance with the founding of the Royal Academy, a classicism based on the High Renaissance prevailed—Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds became two of England's most treasured artists.
The Norwich School continued the landscape tradition, while the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with their vivid and detailed style revived the Early Renaissance style—Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais were leaders. Prominent amongst twentieth century artists was Henry Moore, regarded as the voice of British sculpture, and of British modernism in general. Contemporary painters include Lucian Freud, whose work Benefits Supervisor Sleeping in 2008 set a world record for sale value of a painting by a living artist.
Early authors wrote in Latin such as Bede and Alcuin. While the period of Old English literature provided the epic poem Beowulf, the secular prose the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, along with Christian writings such as Judith, Cædmon's Hymn and saintly hagiographies. Following the Norman conquest Latin continued amongst the educated classes, as well as an Anglo-Norman literature.
Middle English literature emerged with Geoffrey Chaucer author of The Canterbury Tales, along with Gower, the Pearl Poet and Langland. Franciscans, William of Ockham and Roger Bacon were major philosophers of the Middle Ages. Julian of Norwich with her Revelations of Divine Love was a prominent Christian mystic. With the English Renaissance literature in the Early Modern English style appeared. William Shakespeare, whose works include Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, remains one of the most championed authors in English literature.
Marlowe, Spenser, Sydney, Kyd, Donne, Jonson are other established authors of the Elizabethan age. Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes wrote on empiricism and materialism, including scientific method and social contract. Filmer wrote on the Divine Right of Kings. Marvell was the best known poet of the Commonwealth, while John Milton authored Paradise Lost during the Restoration.
Some of the most prominent philosophers from the Enlightenment were Locke, Paine, Johnson and Benthem. More radical elements were later countered by Edmund Burke who is regarded as the founder of conservatism. The poet Alexander Pope with his satirical verse became well regarded. The English played a significant role in romanticism—Coleridge, Byron, Keats, M Shelley, PB Shelley, Blake and Wordsworth were major figures.
In response to the Industrial Revolution, agrarian writers looked to find a way between liberty and tradition; Cobbett, Chesterton and Belloc were main exponents, while founder of guild socialism, Penty and cooperative movement advocate Cole are somewhat related. Empiricism continued through Mill and Russell, while Williams was involved in analytics. Authors from around the time of the Victorian era include Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Austen, Kipling, Wells, and Underhill. Since then England has continued to produce novelists such as C. S. Lewis, Orwell, Blyton, Christie, Tolkien, and J. K. Rowling.
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The traditional folk music of England is centuries old and has contributed to several genres prominently; mostly sea shanties, jigs, hornpipes and dance music. It has its own distinct variations and regional peculiarities. Wynkyn de Worde printed ballads of Robin Hood from the 16th century are an important artefact, as are John Playford's The Dancing Master and Robert Harley's Roxburghe Ballads collections. Some of the best known songs are The Good Old Way, Pastime with Good Company, Maggie May and Spanish Ladies amongst others. Many nursery rhymes are of English origin such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Roses are red, Jack and Jill, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and Humpty Dumpty.
Early English composers in classical music include Renaissance artists Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, followed up by Henry Purcell from the Baroque period. German-born George Frideric Handel became a British subject and spent most of his composing life in London, creating some of the most well-known works of classical music, The Messiah, Water Music, and Music for the Royal Fireworks. There was a revival in the profile of composers from England in the 20th century led by Benjamin Britten, Frederick Delius, Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and others. Present-day composers from England include Michael Nyman, best known for The Piano.
In the field of popular music many English bands and solo artists have been cited as the most influential and best-selling musicians of all time. Acts such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Queen, Rod Stewart and The Rolling Stones are among the highest selling recording artists in the world. Many musical genres have origins or strong associations with England, such as British invasion, hard rock, glam rock, heavy metal, mod, britpop, drum and bass, progressive rock, punk rock, indie rock, gothic rock, shoegazing, acid house, UK garage, trip hop and dubstep.
Large outdoor music festivals in the summer and autumn are popular, such as Glastonbury, V Festival, Reading and Leeds Festivals. The most prominent opera house in England is the Royal Opera House at Covent Gardens. The Proms, a season of orchestral classical music concerts held at the Royal Albert Hall, is a major cultural event held annually. The Royal Ballet is one of the world's foremost classical ballet companies, its reputation built on two prominent figures of 20th century dance, prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn and choreographer Frederick Ashton.
English Heritage is a governmental body with a broad remit of managing the historic sites, artefacts and environments of England. It is currently sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The charity National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty holds a contrasting role. Seventeen of the twenty-five United Kingdom UNESCO World Heritage Sites fall within England. Some of the best known of these include; Hadrian's Wall, Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, Tower of London, Jurassic Coast, Saltaire, Ironbridge Gorge, Studley Royal Park and various others.
There are many museums in England, but the most notable is London's British Museum. Its collection of more than seven million objects is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world, sourced from every continent, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present. The British Library in London is the national library and is one of the world's largest research libraries, holding over 150 million items in all known languages and formats; including around 25 million books. The most senior art gallery is the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, which houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The Tate galleries house the national collections of British and international modern art; they also host the famously controversial Turner Prize.
England has a strong sporting heritage, and during the 19th century codified many sports that are now played around the world. Sports originating in England include association football, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, tennis, badminton, squash, rounders, hockey, boxing, snooker, billiards, darts, table tennis, bowls, netball, thoroughbred horseracing and fox hunting. It has helped the development of sailing and Formula One. Football is the most popular of these sports. The England national football team, whose home venue is Wembley Stadium, won the FIFA World Cup in 1966, the year the country hosted the competition. At club level England is recognised by FIFA as the birth-place of club football, due to Sheffield FC founded in 1857 being the oldest club. The Football Association is the oldest of its kind, FA Cup and The Football League were the first cup and league competitions respectively. In the modern day the Premier League is the world's most lucrative football league and amongst the elite. The European Cup has been won by Liverpool, Manchester United, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa, while Arsenal, Chelsea and Leeds United have reached the final.
Cricket is generally thought to have been developed in the early medieval period among the farming and metalworking communities of the Weald. The England cricket team is a composite England and Wales team. One of the game's top rivalries is The Ashes series between England and Australia, contested since 1882. The finale of the 2009 Ashes was watched by nearly 2 million people, although the climax of the 2005 Ashes was viewed by 7.4 million as it was available on terrestrial television. England are the current holders of the trophy and are fifth in both Test and One Day International cricket. England has hosted four Cricket World Cups (1975, 1979, 1983, 1999) and the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009. There are several domestic level competitions, including the County Championship in which Yorkshire are by far the most successful club having won the competition 31 times. Lord's Cricket Ground situated in London is sometimes referred to as the "Mecca of Cricket". William Penny Brookes was prominent in organising the format for the modern Olympic Games. London hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948, and will host them again in 2012. England competes in the Commonwealth Games, held every four years. Sport England is the governing body responsible for distributing funds and providing strategic guidance for sporting activity in England. A Grand Prix is held at Silverstone.
The England rugby union team won the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the country was one of the host nations of the competition in the 1991 Rugby World Cup and is set to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The top level of club participation is the English Premiership. Leicester Tigers, London Wasps, Bath Rugby and Northampton Saints have had success in the Europe-wide Heineken Cup. In another form of the sport—rugby league which was born in Huddersfield in 1898, the England national rugby league team are ranked third in the world and first in Europe. Since 2008 England has been a full test nation in lieu of the Great Britain national rugby league team, which won three World Cups but is now retired. Club sides play in Super League, the present-day embodiment of the Rugby Football League Championship. Some of the most successful clubs include Wigan Warriors, St Helens, Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants; the former three have all won the World Club Challenge previously. In tennis the Wimbledon Championships are the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely considered the most prestigious.
The national flag of England, known as St. George's Cross, has been the national flag since the 13th century. Originally the flag was used by the maritime state the Republic of Genoa. The English monarch paid a tribute to the Doge of Genoa from 1190 onwards, so that English ships could fly the flag as a means of protection when entering the Mediterranean. A red cross acted as a symbol for many Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries. It became associated with Saint George, along with countries and cities, which claimed him as their patron saint and used his cross as a banner. Since 1606 the St George's Cross has formed part of the design of the Union Flag, a Pan-British flag designed by King James I.
There are numerous other symbols and symbolic artefacts, both official and unofficial, including the Tudor rose, the nation's floral emblem, the White Dragon and the Three Lions featured on the nation's coat of arms. The Tudor rose was adopted as a national emblem of England around the time of the Wars of the Roses as a symbol of peace. It is a syncretic symbol in that it merged the white rose of the Yorkists and the red rose of the Lancastrians—cadet branches of the Plantagenets who went to war over control of the royal house. It is also known as the Rose of England. The oak tree is a symbol of England, representing strength and endurance. The term Royal Oak is used to denote the escape of King Charles II from the grasps of the parliamentarians after his father's execution; he hid in an oak tree to avoid detection before making it safely into exile.
The national coat of arms of England, featuring three lions dates back to its adoption by Richard the Lionheart from 1198–1340. They are described as gules, three lions passant guardant or and provide one of the most prominent symbols of England; it is similar to the traditional arms of Normandy. England does not have an official designated national anthem, as the United Kingdom as a whole has God Save the Queen. However, the following are often considered unofficial English national anthems: Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory (used for England during the 2002 Commonwealth Games), and I Vow to Thee, My Country. England's National Day is St George's Day, as Saint George is the patron saint of England, it is held annually on 23 April.