Scotland's only land border is with England, stretching for approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers) between the Tweed River basin on the east coast and the Solway Estuary in the west. The Atlantic Ocean borders the western coast and the North Sea is to the east. Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and occupies the northern third of Great Britain. It is home to nearly 800 small islands, including the northern islands of Shetland and Orkney, the Hebrides, Arran and Skye.
Ireland was always an island and a land bridge was never formed to connect it with Great Britain, according to new research from the University of Ulster. Contrary to general opinion, sea level never fell enough to allow dry land to emerge between the two land masses. The United Kingdom is made up of several islands. The only land border connecting the United Kingdom to another country is between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. England, the predominant constituent unit of the United Kingdom, occupies more than half of the island of Great Britain.
Nestled by large rivers and small streams, England is a fertile land, and its soil has supported a thriving agricultural economy for millennia. At the beginning of the 19th century, England became the epicenter of a global industrial revolution and soon became one of the most industrialized countries in the world. With resources from all populated continents, cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool converted raw materials into manufactured products for a global market, while London, the country's capital, became one of the most important cities in the world and the center of a political, economic and cultural network that extended far beyond England's coasts. Today, London's metropolitan area encompasses much of southeastern England and remains Europe's financial center and a center of innovation, particularly in popular culture. One of England's fundamental characteristics is its diversity within a small compass. Nowhere in England is more than 75 miles (120 km) from the sea, and even its farthest parts are no more than a day's journey by road or train from London. Formed by the union of small Celtic and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms at the beginning of the medieval period, England has long comprised several different regions, each with its own dialect, economy, religion and disposition; in fact, even today many English people identify themselves by their regions or counties.
However, commonalities are more important than these differences, many of which began to disappear in post-World War II era, especially with England's transformation from a rural society to a highly urbanized one. The country's insular location has been of vital importance for the development of its character which promotes seemingly contradictory qualities such as openness and reserve, conformity and eccentricity; values social harmony; and exhibits good manners that guarantee orderly relations in a densely populated landscape. For many people, George Orwell captured as well as anyone else what Shakespeare called “this blessed plot” - this land, this kingdom - this England. England is bordered to the north by Scotland; to the west by Wales, Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean; to the south by English Channel; and to the east by North Sea. Its topography has low elevation but is rarely flat except in east. Much of it consists of undulating hillsides with highest elevations in north, northwest and southwest. This landscape is based on complex underlying structures that form intricate patterns on geological map of England.
The oldest sedimentary rocks and some igneous rocks (on isolated granite hills) are found in Cornwall and Devon in south-west peninsula; ancient volcanic rocks are at base of parts of Cumbria mountains; most recent alluvial soils cover marshes of Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk. Among these regions are sandstone and limestone bands from different geological periods - many relics from primitive times when large parts of central and southern England were submerged under warm seas. Geological forces lifted and folded some rocks to form backbone of Northern England - Pennines - which rise to 893 meters (2,930 feet) at Cross Fell. Cumbria mountains - including famous Lake District - reach 978 meters (3,210 feet) at Scafell Pike - highest point in England. Slate covers most northern part of mountains while thick lava beds are found in southern part. Other sedimentary layers have produced chains of hills ranging from 965 feet (294 meters) in North Downs to 1,083 feet (330 meters) in Cotswolds.
Hills known as Chilterns, North York Moors and Yorkshire & Lincolnshire Wolds were surrounded by characteristic west-facing plateaus with escarpments during three successive glacial periods of Pleistocene Epoch (about 2.6 million to 11700 years ago). When last ice sheet melted sea levels rose submerging land bridge that had connected Britain to European continent. Deep deposits left by retreating glaciers further altered landscape - erosion caused by rain rivers & tides & subsidence in parts eastern England later shaped hills & coastline. Strata plateaus made up limestone sandstone & carbonifera are associated with major coal deposits some existing as outcrops on surface. The Scottish mainland comprises northern third land mass island Great Britain located off northwest coast continental Europe. Many sediments are economically important since this where rocks containing coal & iron that fueled Scotland's industrial revolution are found.
Main railway lines on east & west coast connect Scotland's major cities & towns to each other & to England's rail network.