The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) and Britain, is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another state—the Republic of Ireland.
Many people confuse the United Kingdom with Great Britain, but in fact they are not the same thing. The United Kingdom is a united group of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These four countries share a group of islands to the northwest of mainland Europe and are united under one government with one monarch. Great Britain comprises only England, Scotland and Wales.
While the UK has four distinct countries, each with its own culture and different dialects, there is a reason that many people confuse the UK with England. For centuries, England was the dominant nation, with the monarch frequently called the "Queen of England." When people think of the UK, the image of the monarch is often the first thing they think of. The kings, queens, princes and princesses of England have become international celebrities. The UK is also known for other cultural icons, like David Beckham, Dr. Who and the Beatles. If you visited the UK, you would want to dine on decadent Cadbury chocolate after a traditional meal of fish and chips, washing it all down with a glass of Guinness stout.
The people of the UK are known as leaders in the arts as well as science and technology. The UK is the place where fashion trends often start and actors or musicians are born. London, the center of it all, is often called a "cultural superpower."
The UK, and England specifically, is known for some of the top universities in the world. People travel from around the globe to study at some of the world's highest ranked schools, like Cambridge and Oxford. In fact, UK has four universities ranked among the global top 10 in the QS World University Rankings.
Climate in the UK
The climate in the UK varies tremendously based on location. Areas that are close to the Atlantic, like Northern Ireland and Wales, are wet, windy and mild in temperature. England has cool, but not cold, temperatures almost year round, and experiences an average amount of rainfall. Snow can happen, but is uncommon.
Cost of Living
Like the climate, the cost of living is going to vary depending on where you live in the UK. London, which is a cultural and educational center, is one of the most expensive places in the world. Rent and the cost of day-to-day activities are both quite high here. Eating out is also expensive throughout England, so consider looking for a dormitory or apartment that has a kitchen to cut down on expenses.