Citizens of the United Kingdom have made a number of key contributions to our understanding of science and the world around us. Charles Darwin's evolution, Issac Newton's laws of motion, James Clerk Maxwell's electromagnetics and Stephen Hawking's black holes are all the result of a British education.
Britons can also claim responsibility for trains, electric motors, light bulbs, telephones, computers, jet engines and the early stages of the Internet.
One of the most widely spoken languages on the planet, English is a hybrid of an Old Germanic language, Old Norse, French, Greek and Latin.
During the growth of the British Empire, English became the dominant language worldwide and the main language of international business. Speaking English is a real advantage to anyone wanting to travel the world.
Art & literature
If arts and culture are your thing, there are few finer places to study than the UK. Britain is known worldwide as a literary hotspot. From the dramatic masterpieces of Shakespeare and the gushing romantics of Lord Byron to some of the best-selling novels of all time by J. K. Rowling and Agatha Christie.
British art is sometimes underplayed next to the European masters, but without J.M.W. Turner or John Martin; Lucian Freud or Francis Bacon; Peter Blake, Gilbert & George and the YBA's; the history of art would be a very different place. The permanent collections in most major galleries are free to the public and temporary exhibitions tend to have discounted entry for students.
Britain is a melting pot of cultures. You will find that, in the larger cities, most international cuisines and customs are well represented. In Newham for instance, the area of London surrounding the Olympic Stadium, multi-culturalism is so fundamental that there is no one dominant ethnicity.
Christianity is the official religion of the UK. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the Church of England and national holidays tend to fall on days of Christian significance. However, the British population is very diverse in its beliefs and all major religions are catered for.
Universities in the United Kingdom are internationally recognised as some of the best in the world. The ancient universities of Oxford, Cambridge and St Andrews are highly elite institutions with alumni that have included royalty, leading intellectuals and the political elite.
The University of Cambridge, for instance, has produced 83 Nobel Laureates, which is more than any other institution.
- Population: 63 million
- Currency: Pound sterling (£)
- Capital City: London
- There are 30,000 people called John Smith in Britain
- David Beckham, the Beatles, Queen Elizabeth II