England, Wales and Scotland share an island bounded
by the North Sea to the north and east, the English Channel to the south
and the Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean to the west. Scotland occupies the
north part of the island, and Wales the west. England's southeast coast
is 29 kilometres from France and the two countries are linked by rail via
the undersea Channel Tunnel (Chunnel).
England is about twice the size of Nova Scotia. The highest areas in the country are in the north and west. In the northwest is a range of limestone hills and valleys called the Pennines. These mountains include the Lake District in the northwesterly tip of England and a region called the Peak District near the city of Derby. In eastern England there are flat, fertile plains called the Fens, which were once marshlands, but have been drained.
The capital and largest city, London, is in the
southeast, on the River Thames, England's longest river. The source of
the Thames is far to the west of London, in an upland area known as the
Cotswolds. The south of England is a region of rolling hills and farmland.
In Devon and Cornwall in the far southwest, there are upland areas called
moors-windswept areas covered with low-growing plants. Dartmoor and Exmoor
are the largest moors. Between London and the southeast coast, the land
rises in a series of parallel ridges known as the Downs.
England has a temperate maritime climate. Although the country's southern tip is at the same latitude as Winnipeg, the Gulf Stream (a current of warm water flowing across the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico) ensures mild weather. England is famous for its rain and the lush green of its countryside. Average annual rainfall in the north is more than 1,600 mm. Central and southern England receive an average of less than 800 mm. The coldest months are December, January and February, when the temperature is usually between 3 and 6°C. In July and August, the temperature averages between 16 and 21°C.
Environmentalists in England are concerned about
issues such as the loss of hedgerows, which used to surround farm fields.
Modern agriculture has destroyed many hedgerows, which once sheltered
wildflowers, birds and small animals. Another concern is global warming.
Rising sea levels caused by global warming have turned some coastal
valleys into ocean inlets. If the global warming trend continues, larger
regions could be flooded.