Great Britain, as distinguished from Britannia Minor, or Brittany, in France, was not officially so called till in 1604 James I. styled himself king of Great Britain. Lying between 49° 57' 30" and 58° 40' 24" N. lat., and between 1° 46' E. and 6° 13' W. long., Great Britain is the largest island of Europe, and is bounded by the Atlantic, the North Sea, the English Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. The most northerly point is Dunnet Head, in Caithness ; the most southerly, Lizard Point, in Cornwall ; the most easterly, Lowestoft Ness, in Suffolk; and the most westerly, Ardnamurchan Point, in Argyllshire. Its greatest length is about 608 miles, and its greatest breadth (from Land's End to the east coast of Kent) about 325 miles; while its surface contains 88,226 sq. m. The geology of Great Britain is of peculiar importance. Nearly all the recognised 'systems' occur in Britain, although some of these are more fully represented elsewhere ; the only system not found here is the Miocene. The mountainous regions of the north and west are formed of the oldest rocks, and as we move south-eastwards, we gradually pass over newer strata, until, in the east of England, we come to the uppermost divisions of the Tertiary. The mineral wealth, especially the coal and the iron, are the real sinews and muscles of Britain's mighty power. No other country has similar advantages in such an area. In some respects the most important of British minerals is coal. Formerly, the only iron produced in the country was obtained from the greensand of the south-east of England, and from the brown hematite of the Dean Forest.
The ore was smelted with charcoal. But the introduction of coke and coal for smelting, and the discovery of numerous additional and unthought-of deposits, especially in connection with coal-bearing strata, immensely increased the production of iron. The most important ore is the ferruginous shale, or impure argillaceous carbonate of iron, which occurs in connection with every coalfield in Britain. The brown and red hematites, associated with the oldest Palaeozoic rocks, yield also a large amount of metallic iron. Tin is obtained from only two counties - Cornwall and Devon. Copper is principally obtained from the same two counties. Lead and silver are obtained from the same ore from numerous mines in Palaeozoic districts ; the most productive English mines being in Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland, Shropshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cardiganshire, Glamorganshire, and the Isle of Man. In Scotland the most productive lead and silver mines are at Wanlock-head and Leadhills. Zinc is obtained chiefly from Cardigan, Denbighshire, Carnarvon, Flint, Cumberland, and the Isle of Man. Sulphur ores (iron pyrites) are raised in different parts of Great Britain ; as also arsenic, manganese, gold, nickel, silver-copper, fluor-spar, and wolfram. Salt occurs chiefly in Cheshire and Ulster. The total value of the coal and other minerals raised in the United Kingdom was £40,345,945 in 1866, £74,094,638 in 1S80, and £107,134,854 in 1902. The total value of the metals obtainable by smelting from ores produced in the United Kingdom (aluminium, antimony, copper, gold, iron, lead, magnesium, silver, sodium, tin, zinc) in 1887 was £12,795,993 ; in 1902, £15,287,357.
The physical features of a country are intimately connected with its geological structure. Thus the Highlands and Southern Uplands of Scotland are built up chiefly of crystalline schists and the older Palaeozoic strata, while the intervening lowlands of the so-called Central Plain are composed mainly of the younger Palaeozoic rocks and overlying accumulations of superficial deposits. The mountainous tracts of Scotland consist therefore of more enduring or less readily eroded materials than the lowlands. The mountains are monuments of erosion; they are the wreck of an old tableland. The Highlands (q.v.) are intersected from south-west to north-east by the Great Glen, which probably occupies the line of a dislocation. It is customary in geographical text-books to speak of the 'range of the Grampians,' but the Highland mountains do not trend in linear directions, but rather form confused groups. The greatest height reached is 4406 feet in Ben Nevis, less eminences being Ben Macdhui (4296 feet) and Ben Lawers (3984; with cairn, 4004). The southern limit of the Highlands is defined by a line drawn from the Firth of Clyde at Helensburgh north-east to the sea-coast at Stonehaven. North of this line there are of course considerable tracts of less elevated ground, especially along the coast in Aberdeenshire, the borders of the Moray Firth, and Caithness. The coast-line of the Highlands, particularly in the west, is repeatedly broken by numerous and large fjords or deep sea-lochs. And opposite the same coasts appear the numerous islands of the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These fjords are simply submerged land-valleys, while the islands are the higher parts of the depressed continental plateau. The fresh-water lakes vary in size from mere tarns to large mountain-valley lakes like Lochs Lomond, Ness, Awe, Shin, Maree, Tay, etc.
The Central Plain of Scotland may be described as a broad depression of relatively easily eroded materials lying between two tablelands of less readily denuded rocks. The principal features of this low-lying tract have a north-east and southwest trend determined by geological structure, as is seen in the Sidlaw Hills, the Ochil Hills, the Lennox Hills, etc, in the north, and in the Pentland Hills in the south. The surface of the lowland tracts is likewise diversified by many more or less abrupt and isolated hills, such as Arthur's Seat, Dalmahoy Crags, the Castle-rocks of Edinburgh and Stirling, etc. Most of these heights consist of igneous rocks of a more durable character than the strata of sandstone, shale, etc, which surround them.
The Southern Uplands of Scotland form a broad belt of high ground extending from the sea-coast of Haddingtonshire and Berwickshire south-west to the shores of Ayrshire and Galloway. Like the Highlands the area of the southern uplands is simply an old tableland, furrowed into narrow ravine and wide dale by the operation of the various agents of erosion. The rocks that enter into their composition are chiefly Silurian, grey-wackes, and shales, and consequently there is less variety of contour and colour than in the Highlands. Now and again, however, the mountains assume a rougher aspect, more especially in Carrick and Galloway (highest point Merrick, 2764 feet). The Silurian strata are overlaid towards the south by younger Palaeozoic rocks; thus we have the broad vale of Tweed and the lower reaches of Teviotdale occupied chiefly by sandstones and shales. The Cheviot Hills, again, are built up in the north-east chiefly of bedded igneous rocks which towards the southwest give place to sandstones.
Crossing the borders of Scotland and England we find the high ground just referred to is continued southwards through Northumberland, Cumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Derbyshire to form what is called the Pennine Chain. This 'chain' varies in height from 1200 to 3000 feet, reaching its highest summit in Scafell Pike, Cumberland, which is 3210 feet high. The Lake district of Cumberland and Westmorland, being built up mainly of Silurian rocks, reproduces the characteristic features of the southern uplands of Scotland. And the same is to a large extent true of the mountainous parts of Wales (whose highest point, Snowdon, is 3571 feet), while not a few of the features of the Scottish Highlands reappear on a small scale in Devonshire and Cornwall. All these hillier tracts are composed essentially of Palaeozoic and associated igneous rocks. The major portion of England, however, consists principally of younger strata, and may be considered on the whole as a somewhat undulating plain traversed by ridges of varying elevation, which trend in a general direction from north-east to south-west. The band of Jurassic strata, extending from the Yorkshire Moors south and south-west to the coast of Dorset, forms a tortuous belt of tableland and escarpment, rising sometimes to a height of 1500 feet, and throughout its course presenting usually a bold face to the west and a gentle slope to the east. Similar escarpments accompany the outcrop of the chalk, but they are neither so lofty nor so bold. They form the Wolds of Yorkshire and Lincoln, and rise into a low range of hills that extend from Norfolk to Wilts, the more prominent portions of which are known as the Chiltern Hills, the Marlborough Downs, and Salisbury Plain. On the north and south side of the Wealden anticlinal axis, similar chalk-hills appear, forming the North Downs in Surrey and Kent, and the South Downs in Hants and Sussex. Lying between the Pennine Chain in the west, and the Yorkshire Moors and Wolds and Lincoln Heights and Wolds in the east, lies the broad depression traversed by the Ouse and Trent which is occupied chiefly by Triassic strata. In like manner, a low plain separates the mountain-tracts of Wales from the Pennine Chain, which is similarly occupied by Triassic and younger Palaeozoic strata. The maritime parts of Lincoln, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and Middlesex are for the most part low-lying, being composed of Cretaceous and overlying Tertiary and Quaternary deposits. The whole surface of Britain, with the exception of the extreme south of England, has been more or less modified by glacial action, to which is largely due the rounded contour and flowing outline of all but the highest elevations. The surface-features of the low-lying tracts have also been greatly modified by the enormous morainic and fluvio-glacial accumulations which were spread over the country in Pleistocene times.
The physical geography of Ireland is discussed elsewhere (see Ireland); in its geological relations it is intimately related to Great Britain - its orographic features being likewise determined by the character of its various rock-masses. Ireland, like its sister-island, forms a portion of the depressed continental plateau - its highly indented coast-line, more especially in the west and south-west, being the result of a comparatively recent submergence. There can be no doubt that in post-glacial times Ireland was joined to Britain, which at that period formed a part of the continent of Europe.
The climate of Great Britain derives its peculiar character from the insular situation of the country, taken in connection with the prevailing direction of the winds. It is mild and equable in a remarkable degree, the winters being considerably warmer, and the summers colder than at other places within the same parallels of latitude. For at least three months, the mean monthly temperature ranges between 50.0o" and 60.0°; for other three months it continues about 60.0", or occasionally a little higher, seldom more than four degrees; and for the remaining six months it ordinarily ranges between 36.0° and 48.0°. Since the Reports of the Registrar-general clearly prove that the temperature most conducive to health is between 50.0° and 60.0°, it follows that, as far as concerns temperature, the climate of Great Britain is one of the healthiest in the world. The mean temperature of England is 49.5°, and of Scotland 47.5°. There is a difference of fully six degrees between Falmouth, in Cornwall, and Shetland, attributable chiefly to the difference of their latitudes. It becomes greater as the force of the sun's rays increases ; so that, while the winter temperatures are respectively 44.2° and 39.0°, the summer temperatures are 60.6° and 53.4°. The highest summer temperature is 64.2° in London, and the lowest 52.2° at North Unst, the difference being 12.0°. The temperatures of places on the west are in excess of those of places in the same latitudes, but at some distance from the Atlantic. In winter, the differences between the west and the other parts of the country are still greater.
The south-west winds are the most prevalent throughout the year, except in April and May, when they give place in a considerable degree to the north-east winds. The notoriously dry and parching character of the latter renders them very deleterious to health. On the other hand, the south-west winds, coming from the Atlantic, are moist and genial, and it is on their greater frequency - being, as compared with the north-east, in the proportion of two to one - that the salubrity of the British climate in a great measure depends. In those districts of England where hills do not intervene, the annual rainfall is about 25 inches, and in similar parts of Scotland about 28 inches; but these amounts, which may be considered as the rainfalls of the driest districts of the two countries, are variously increased by proximity to hills or rising grounds, according as the place is situated in the east or west of the island, viewed in relation to the direction of the wind which brings the rain, and by its lying on the wind or on the lee side of these hills. Since it is the south-west winds which bring by far the larger proportion of the rainfall, the heaviest falls take place among the hills in the west of the country, in great part of the area about 40 inches. But over broad districts in the West Highlands and Skye, and in limited areas in the Lake district, and in North and South Wales, the annual rainfall exceeds 80 inches. At the head of Glencroe, Argyllshire, it rises to 128 1/2 inches, and at the Stye, Cumberland, to 1S6 inches. Area and population were In 1901:
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There were, in 1904, in Great Britain and Ireland 88 towns above 50,000 In population, of which seventy-four were in England, eight in Scotland, three in Ireland (Belfast, Dublin, Cork), and three in Wales (Cardiff, Rhondda, and Merthyr-Tydfil). Of the total area of 56,786,741 acres in Great Britain, 32,317,610 acres were under cultivation in 1904. Of 20,710,589 acres in Ireland, 15,230,124 were under cultivation.
In 1903-4 the net revenue was £141,545,579, and the expenditure £140,961,136. In 1904-5 the estimated revenue was £143,610,000. In 1904 the national debt was £794,498,100. In 1888 the total imports were £387,635,743, and the exports £298,577,541. In 1904 the total imports were £551,362,124, and the total exports £371,139,S16. Of the latter sum £300,S17,897 represented British produce, the remaining £70,321,918 being foreign and colonial produce re-exported. In addition, the imports of gold and silver bullion in 1904 amounted to £45,503,927, and the exports to £46,302,932. In 1903 the imports from British possessions amounted to £113,670,792, and from foreign countries to £428,929,497, of which £122,112,652 were from the United States, £49,347,184 from France, £34,533,390 from Germany, and about the same amount from Holland. Of the exports of British produce in 1903, £111,146,864 went to British possessions, and £179,653,244 to foreign countries - £22,605,131 to the United States, £15,800,011 to France, and £23,550,631 to Ger-many. The number of vessels in 1903 was 20,452 (10,122 steamers) of 10,268,604 tons. The railways had a length of 22,435 miles, the telegraph lines of 51,483 miles. In 1905 the regular army comprised 217,000 men ; besides army reserve, 80,000; militia and militia reserve, 142,446; yeomanry, 28,114; volunteers, 346,136; making, with Indian and colonial native corps, a total of 884,095. The navy in 1905 consisted of 365 vessels, of which 44 were battle-ships, 28 armoured cruisers, 10 protected cruisers of the first class, 20 of the second class, and 25 of the third class, besides torpedo gunboats, torpedo boats and destroyers, and submarines, with a total of 131,100 officers and men of all ranks.
On the colonies, details will be given under their several heads; but it may be useful here to name the chief colonies and dependencies: Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand; Canada and Newfoundland ; Cape Colony, Natal, and associated South African lands; India and Ceylon; the West Indies. Other dependencies reckoned to Asia are the Straits Settlements, North Borneo, Labuan, Sarawak, Aden, Hong-kong; to the Mediterranean, Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus; to Africa, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast, Lagos, Nigeria, East Africa and Central Africa, with Uganda, etc, Rhodesia, Orange River Colony, Transvaal, Swaziland; to Australasia and the Pacific, Fiji, Fanning, Christmas, Maiden, Starbuck, Ellice, Gilbert Islands ; to the Indian Ocean, Mauritius and Rodriguez; to the Atlantic, Bermudas, Ascension, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Falkland Islands.
See the articles England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales ; Anderson's Book of British Topography (1881); works on the geography and physiography of the British Islands, by Ramsay (1878), Hull (1882), Rudlerand Chisholm (1885), Reclus (1888), A. Geikie (1889), Seeley, and others; on ethnology, Beddoe (1886), Lubbock, Nicholas, Roemer; on trade and commerce, Leone Levi (1880); Cunningham (1890), Dymes, etc. ; besides Thorold Rogers on agriculture, Bevans on manufactures, etc.; Mulhall's Dictionary of Statistics (1886 ; new ed. 1891); and for the colonies, Dilke (1868-90) and C. P. Lucas (1888-94).