The United Kingdom of Great Britain consists of four countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The capital city of each is London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast respectively. The UK is a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, and parliamentary democracy. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the British Empire seemed to span the globe but since the two world wars it's power has decreased dramatically. Most of the countries of the British Empire have gained their independence but remain part of the British Commonwealth (which includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand).

Today the United Kingdom is part of the European Union, though not fully integrated many of it's sovereign powers have been transferred to the European Parliament. However, if you are planning a vacation to Britain you should be aware that the Euro has not been yet been adopted and the national currency which remains the British Pound. The British Pound is fiercely defended by the British people who see it as a symbol of their nationality. Maybe this originates from the fact that the economy of the United Kingdom is somewhat dominated by service sector industries such as financial services, with a strong history in banking and insurance.

Tourism continues to be an important element of the British economy with nearly thirty million foreign visitors a year. The UK is ranked as one of the top tourist destinations in the world (about sixth) with a massive selection of varied tourist attractions. Many tourists are attracted to the historic attractions, such as the many castles, with the Royal Family providing much of the pomp and ceremony that remains in popular demand. Most of the most famous landmarks and attractions are to be found in London, such as Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and London Zoo.

Scotland is extremely popular with tourists who flock to Edinburgh to visit Edinburgh Castle or one of the many festivals which are held throughout the year. Other popular vacation destinations in Scotland include the city of Glasgow, Stirling (popular for the historically important Stirling Castle) Pitlochry and other towns of the Highlands such as Inverness (now a city) and Fort William. The more adventurous tourists take their vacation in the Highlands and Islands with the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland being some of the remotest parts of the United Kingdom.

Wales is a predominantly rural nation with a number of fine castles and other historic tourist attractions. The capital city, Cardiff, is both an ancient town and young city, thoroughly modern in it's outlook. Cardiff, a city for around 100 years, has a castle which is claimed to be about 2,000 years old which is well worth a visit. The modern Millennium Stadium and the Wales Millennium Center are some of the most recent attractions and are venues for some spectacular events. The Doctor Who Exhibition is of great interest to fans of the BBC show (filmed mainly in the city) and they will please to hear that the center is the number one attraction at the moment.

Northern Ireland is recovering quickly from the 'troubles' and is very quickly growing in popularity as a vacation destination. For many years there was conflict between those who wanted the region to be returned to the Irish nation and those who wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom. Today it is peaceful and places such as Carrickfergus Castle, Ireland's finest Medieval castle, and numerous beaches such as Portrush Whiterocks Beach proving extremely popular with tourists.

Of all the vacation destinations in the United Kingdom England attracts most visitors. As mentioned London is the most popular tourist destination but places like Blackpool prove very popular with younger visitors. The Blackpool lights, Blackpool tower complex, the pleasure beach and fun fair make for a lively and enjoyable vacation and Blackpool hotels and bed and breakfasts seem to dominate the areas closest to the sea. Other seaside towns such as nearby Southport and Morecambe provide a quieter vacation destination while remaining within easy reach of many interesting tourist attractions.

Whatever your requirements for a vacation the United Kingdom of Great Britain can provide you with your ideal break. Look around online and discover Britain, you are guaranteed to have a most enjoyable time.

Source by Andrew M Kelly

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