Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What Do U.K.all It Again?

I spent the majority of this past summer in Ben's hometown of Shrewsbury, which is in a county called Shropshire, in a 'country' called England, in yet another country called the United Kingdom (phew). 

When I returned home to Canada in order to apply for a British Work Visa, friends and family enquired about the time I'd spent in England. While it's extremely flattering that people are curious about what I've been up to, I found that they often phrased the question in a funny way: I was often asked if I liked London or how I found life in London

Thing is, Shrewsbury (where I spent the majority of my time) is approximately three hours northwest of London. 

I don't mean to sound like I'm nit-picking or focusing on technicalities. I just think it's interesting that a lot of people tend to assume that the United Kingdom = England = London. While I think this is a pretty common misconception, I thought I would straighten a few things out.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (more commonly referred to as the UK) is the world's 22nd most populous country with over 60 million inhabitants. It is made up of four smaller 'countries' or nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each has their own capital (London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively) but London is the capital of the whole of the UK. 

Unlike federal states like Canada or the United States, which are divided into provinces/states that have subordinate legislatures with their own areas of jurisdiction, the UK is a unitary state; that is, a state governed as one unit by the central government (in this case, Westminster Parliament). Although Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each maintain some degree of autonomous power through their own parliaments/assemblies, they are ultimately controlled by and under the power of the central government in London (a system which, as the recent referendum in Scotland demonstrated, many people are not happy with as they do not feel well-represented).

All that to say this: While London is without a doubt an incredible city steeped in culture and history, there is more to England (and a LOT more to the UK) than its capital city. Oh, and I've never lived there!

Just a taste of what the UK has to offer outside of London in...




(but don't get me wrong, London is amazing and has tons to see and do!)

(There are no photos of Northern Ireland because I haven't been there yet, I hope to go at some point in the near future!)

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