The United Kingdom (UK) and Britain, is situated north-west of the European continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It has a total land area of 244,100 square kilometres, of which nearly 99% is land, and the remainder inland water. From north to south it is about 1,000 kilometres long. The country includes the island of Great Britain and is made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Britain was the world's first industrialised country. Its economy remains one of the largest, but it has for many years been based on service industries rather than on manufacturing. Britain was a member of the European Union (EU) around half a century and left the EU end of January 2020 based on their referendum in 2016.
The UK has been at the forefront of youth culture since the heyday of the Beatles and Rolling Stones in the 1960s. It has a rich literary heritage encompassing the works of English writers such as William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, Scot Robert Burns, Welshman Dylan Thomas and Northern Irishman Seamus Heaney. Traditional music has deep roots across the UK, which has also produced classical composers from Henry Purcell in the Baroque period to Benjamin Britten in the 20th century.
UK's weather remains the most frequent topic of conversation. Although England does have a reputation for wet weather all year round, it doesn't rain every day all year round. However it is impossible to guarantee good or bad weather in any given month - so be prepared for anything.
To contact the police, fire brigade or ambulance service in an emergency, you can dial 999 free of charge from any public or private phone. In case of an accident, most major hospitals have 24-hour accident and emergency departments.
The UK's currency is Pounds Sterling (£) and it has not yet joined the Euro, and there is a large number of banks and exchange across the UK, where you can cash travellers cheques and change currency. Banking hours officially 09:30-15:30, but most banks open usually till about 17:00 and cash points (ATMs) are widely available, which Visa and Access (Mastercard) widely accepted, other cards often accepted.