Country profile - Distinguishing factors (United Kingdom)
The United Kingdom is an island state consisting of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and spanning an archipelago including Great Britain, the northeastern part of the island of Ireland, and many small islands. The total area of the UK is approximately 243,610 square kilometres (94,060 sq miles).
In 2008, natural population growth overtook net migration as the main contributor to population growth for the first time since 1998. England is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with an estimated population density of 401 people resident per square kilometre. Density is considerably lower in Scotland (67 per sq km), Wales (145 per sq km) and Northern Ireland (133 per sq km).
The United Kingdom has a temperate climate, with plentiful rainfall all year round. The temperature varies with the seasons but seldom drops below −10 °C (14.0 °F) or rises above 35 °C (95 °F). Atlantic currents, warmed by the Gulf Stream, bring mild winters, especially in the west. Summers are warmest in the south east of England, being closest to the European mainland, and coolest in the north.