The island state, which is surrounded by the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea and the English Channel and extends between 50 ° and 61 ° north latitude, includes the island of Great Britain v. a. the Isles of Wight (in the south) and Anglesey (in the Irish Sea), the Isles of Scilly (in the southwest), the Hebrides (in the northwest), the Orkney and Shetland Islands (in the north) and the northeast part of the island of Ireland. The islands sit on the north-west European continental shelf (British Isles).
No part of the country is more than 130 km from the coast. The central and southern part of the main island of Great Britain is made up of England. It is mainly occupied by hilly landscapes and plains. Low mountain forms occur only in the Pennine Mountains (up to 893 m above sea level), in the Cumbrian Mountains (up to 978 m above sea level), in the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish border (up to 816 m above sea level) and in individual granite massifs in the southwest (up to 622 m above sea level). As a broad peninsula of Great Britain, the mountains of Wales (up to 1,085 m above sea level) protrude to the west. The northern part is mainly mountainous Scotland with the highest peak in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ben Nevis (1,345 m above sea level).
Northern Ireland is mainly occupied by mountain and hill country, in its central lowlands lies the largest lake (396 km 2) of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Lough Neagh.
The climate is distinctly oceanic. Surrounded on all sides by water, the island of Great Britain, thanks to its narrow width, facilitates the air balance between land and sea; the mild winter and cool summer climate has only slightly weaker seasonal caesuras. Warmed in winter by the North Atlantic Current (foothills of the Gulf Stream) from the southwest, in summer by the greater continental nature of southern England, Great Britain is divided into a dry, warm eastern half and a humid, temperate western half, both of which are further differentiated by their distance from the coast. Find out the altitude, latitude and exposure. The weather pattern is not regular from year to year, because stable weather conditions are not typical for the area of low pressure areas that migrate through. The high humidity, especially in winter, is the main cause of frequent fog formation; A light fog is typical, from which, however, a dense fog can develop locally under the influence of topographical location, wind exposure, soil moisture and high air pollution.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with a gross national income (GNI) per resident of (2017) US $ 40,530, is above the average of the EU countries. The loss of its leading global economic importance is mainly due to the two world wars, the dissolution of the Empire (British Empire and Commonwealth) and the emergence of new global economic centers, especially in North America and the Pacific.
Economic growth, which measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), was consistently positive from 1992 after a period of weakness in the early 1990s, came to an abrupt end as a result of the international financial crisis in 2009, but again reached 1.7% in 2013 (2015: 2, 3%). However, the high national debt (2015: 89.2% of GDP) made it necessary to implement a strict austerity program. The number of people in employment was 31.2 million in 2015; unemployment has fallen slightly since its peak in 1993 (just under 3 million) (2015: 1.75 million, which corresponds to an unemployment rate of 5.3%).
The British economic system is market-based and capitalist. A supply-side economic policy with strong neoclassical elements has been pursued since the Thatcher government (Thatcherism). Since the beginning of the 1980s, this has led to a significant reduction in (social) state activities, to a continuous (re) privatization of many nationalized or traditionally public companies in the 1960s, and to a sustainable reduction in subsidies. This economic policy orientation was essentially replaced from 1997 by the Labor Party; public services were massively expanded. By contrast, the conservatives who have ruled since 2010 have given higher priority to reducing the state quota and reducing the budget deficit.
Foreign trade: Great Britain and Northern Ireland have had a declining share in world trade for a long time. The dominant role as the main supplier of finished goods until the 1950s has now been completely lost. With a share of around 40% of total exports, services have developed into the fastest growing area of foreign trade. The decline of industry has permanently changed the structure of foreign trade. Great Britain and Northern Ireland are now more important as a market for finished goods than as a supplier; processed goods have replaced food and raw materials. In 2015, the deficit in the movement of goods reached a value of US $ 149.4 billion. As a result of Brexit Far-reaching changes can be expected in the next few years.
Since the Second World War, high exports of services had always created a surplus in the current account and masked the lack of competitiveness in British industry. The sharp decline in net inflows from oil revenues and an expansive economic stimulus program in 1987/88 (Lawson Boom) caused imports to rise sharply at the end of the 1980s without promoting exports. The result was a dramatically high balance of trade deficit and, at the same time, a decline in income from trade in services, a negative current account balance (2015: –5.2% of GDP). The most important trading partners are the EU countries (2015: 53.6% of total imports, 44.4% of total exports) and the USA (2015: 9.4% of total imports, 15.1% of total exports).