UK Area Guide

The United Kingdom is a multi-national territory that is divided by countries and regions. England, Scotland and Wales continue to have distinct cultures and national identities. In some sports, the countries are also represented separately including in rugby and football. Within England, there are also a number of regions with their own identities and cultures.


England is a country of regions. While many of England's regions are not officially defined, there have been attempts to divide the country with regions that have devolved powers from the UK government. From 1994 to 2011, England was divided into nine regions (North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, South East, South West and London). Although these functions are no longer in force, the nine regions continue to be used for administrative purposes. For example, regions define constituencies of the European Parliament.

There are other ways of defining England's regions. In addition to using England's nine administrative regions, the country can be seen to have seven distinct regions with a shared history and culture. In addition to London, the seven regions include the Home Counties, Northern England, East Anglia, South East England, the West Country, the East Midlands and the West Midlands.

Outside of London, there is also a region that is often referred to as the Home Counties. Although a formal definition does not exist, the region generally includes the counties in the South East, South West and East of England that border Greater London. The region is known for its commuter towns, which are home to many of London's workers. The East of England is more traditionally known as East Anglia, which generally includes Norfolk and Suffolk. The term is also sometimes used to refer to a broader area of the East, including portions of Cambridgeshire and other countries in the East that are not part of the Home Counties. Similarly, the West Country is informally used to describe areas of the South West that are not within the Home Counties. The West Country includes areas with Cornish roots, one of the UK's distinctive Celtic cultures.

The north is often combined under a single 'Northern England' or 'North of England' label. Northern England has a rich history that is often distinct from the rest of England, particularly more industrial areas to the south. Northern England typically includes the administrative regions of Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and the North West. The Midlands in the central part of England are among the most industrial areas of England, and was once important innovator and economic driver during the Industrial Revolution. The mid-section of the country is generally divided into the East Midlands and the West Midlands.


Scotland in the north of the UK is surrounded by the North Sea to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west. The scenic country is known for its valleys and mountains, particularly the iconic Highlands in the north-west. The North East stretched from the Grampian Mountains and the east coast, while the Borders region in the south-east was the sight of battles with England for centuries. The South West of Scotland is home to the Isle of Arran and Scotland's Riviera, the Solway Coast. There are also more than 700 islands in Scotland, including the Inner Hebrides, the Outer Hebrides, the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands.

The central region of Scotland is the most urban and home to most of the country's population. The political and historic centre is Edinburgh, home to dazzling architecture, energetic festivals and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Scotland's largest city is Glasgow, a cosmopolitan city with nightlife and shopping that rival London. Other major towns and cities include Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Stirling and Perth.

Scotland's rich history dates back centuries and continues to be a source of pride. Until 1707, the country was independent despite sharing a monarch with England since the early seventeenth century. A strong pro-independence movement continues to thrive in Scotland. Like Wales, Scotland is administratively independent of the UK and has devolved powers.


Wales borders England to the east and the Irish Sea to the west. The country continues to retain a distinct Celtic culture separate from the rest of the UK, and the Welsh language is still spoken by more than twenty percent of the population. Wales has immense natural beauty with dramatic mountain ranges and stunning coastlines. As a result, the country is home to several national parks and areas of outstanding beauty such as Snowdonia National Park and Brecon Beacons National Park.

While North Wales is largely rural with tall mountains, holiday resorts and well-preserved castles, South Wales is highly urban and home to two-thirds of the country's population. The three main urban centres in Wales are found in the South. The largest and its capital is Cardiff, which is also home to the Welsh Assembly. In addition to being the political hub of the country, Cardiff is also the economic and cultural centre of Wales. Other major urban centres include Newport and Swansea.