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Tower Bridge, London

Europe

 
England
England is a nation and the largest and most populous constituent country of the United Kingdom accounting for more than 83% of the total UK population. It occupies most of the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and shares land borders with fellow home nations Scotland, to the north, and Wales, to the west. Elsewhere, it is bordered by the sea.

England is named after the Angles, one of a number of Germanic tribes believed to have originated in Angeln in Northern Germany, who settled in England in the 5th and 6th centuries. It has not had a distinct political identity since 1707, when Great Britain was established as a unified political entity; however, it has a legal identity separate from those of Scotland and Northern Ireland, as part of the entity "England and Wales;". England's largest city, London, is also the capital of the United Kingdom.
Background Information
England has been inhabited for at least 500,000 years, although the repeated Ice Ages made much of Britain uninhabitable for extended periods until as recently as 20,000 years ago. Stone Age hunter-gatherers eventually gave way to farmers and permanent settlements, with a spectacular and sophisticated megalithic civilisation arising in western England some 4,000 years ago. It was replaced around 1,500 years later by Celtic tribes migrating from Western and continental Europe, mainly from France. These tribes were known collectively as "Britons", a name bestowed by Phoenician traders - an indication of how, even at this early date, the island was part of a Europe-wide trading network.

The Britons were significant players in continental affairs and supported their allies in Gaul militarily during the Gallic Wars with the Roman Republic. This prompted the Romans to invade and subdue the island, first with Julius Caesar's raid in 55 BC, and then the Emperor Claudius' conquest in the following century. The whole southern part of the island - roughly corresponding to modern day England and Wales - became a prosperous part of the Roman Empire. It was finally abandoned early in the 5th century when a weakening Empire pulled back its legions to defend borders on the Continent.

Unaided by the Roman army, Roman Britannia could not long resist the Germanic tribes who arrived in the 5th and 6th centuries, enveloping the majority of modern day England in a new culture and language and pushing Romano-British rule back into modern-day Wales and western extremities of England, notably Cornwall and Cumbria. Others emigrated across the channel to modern-day Brittany, thus giving it its name and language (Breton). But many of the Romano-British remained in and were assimilated into the newly "English" areas.

The invaders fell into three main groups: the Jutes, the Saxons, and the Angles. As they became more civilised, recognisable states formed and began to merge with one another. (The most well-known state of affairs being the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy.) From time to time throughout this period, one Anglo-Saxon king, recognised as the "Bretwalda" by other rulers, had effective control of all or most of the English; so it is impossible to identify the precise moment when the Kingdom of England was unified. In some sense, real unity came as a response to the Danish Viking incursions which occupied the eastern half of "England" in the 8th century. Egbert, King of Wessex (d. 839) is often regarded as the first king of all the English, although the title "King of England" was first adopted, two generations later, by Alfred the Great (ruled 871-899).

The principal legacy left behind in those territories from which the language of the Britons were displaced is that of toponyms. Many of the place-names in England and to a lesser extent Scotland are derived from celtic British names, including London, Dumbarton, York, Dorchester, Dover and Colchester. Several place-name elements are thought to be wholly or partly Brythonic in origin, particularly bre-, bal-, and -dun for hills, carr for a high rocky place, coomb for a small deep valley. Until recently it has been believed that those areas settled by the Anglo-Saxons were uninhabited at the time or the Britons had fled before them. However, genetic studies show that the British were not pushed out to the Celtic fringes - many tribes remained in what was to become England (see C. Capelli et al. A Y chromosome census of the British Isles. Current Biology 13, 979-984, (2003)). Capelli's findings strengthen the research of Steven Bassett of the University of Birmingham; his work during the 1990s suggests that much of the West Midlands was only very lightly colonised with Anglian and Saxon settlements.
Climate
Britain an island country and the surrounding sea gives England a varied climate. We never know what the weather will be like from one day to the other. It can be sunny one day and rainy the next. As we have such a variable climate changing from from day to day, it is difficult to predict the weather. In general we have warm summers and cool winters. Our summers are cooler than those on the continent, but the winters are milder.

The overall climate in England is called temperate maritime. This means that it is mild with temperatures not much lower than 0C in winter and not much higher than 32C in summer. It also means that it is damp and is subject to frequent changes.

July is normally the warmest month in England. Around the coasts, February is normally the coldest month, but inland there is little to choose between January and February as the coldest month.

Probaby the best months to travel in England are May, June, September and October. These months generally have the most pleasant temperatures and less rain. July and August are the warmest months, but they are also the wettest.
City Streets of London, England
Stonehenge, England
Map of England