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About U.K. & Ireland  

Facts and Figures

Population of Britain: 59,755,700
England: 49,997,100
Wales: 2,946,200
Scotland: 5,114,600
Northern Ireland: 1,697,800
Population of Ireland: 3,960,000
National Capital (Britain): London
National Capital (Ireland): Dublin
Land Area of Britain: 242,000 sq.km
Land Area of Ireland: 69,000 sq. km
Coastline of Great Britain: 14,549 kms
England/Wales Coastline
(incl. islands):
5,214 km
Scotland Coastline
(incl. islands):
9,335 km
Highest Point: Most Northerly Point: Dunnet Head, Scotland
Most Southerly Point: Lizard Point, Cornwall Britain is just under 1,000 km from the south coast to the extreme north of Scotland and just under 500 km across at the widest point.



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Banking & Business Hours
Credit Cards
Electrical Voltage
Facts & Figures
Medical Insurance
Metric Conversion
Postal Services
Public Holidays
Public Payphones
School Holidays
Shopping Hours
Time Zones
Tipping Guide
Useful Telephone Numbers
Weather & Climate

Britain comprises Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and Northern Ireland. One of the 15 members states of the European Union (EU), its full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The full name of Ireland is the Republic of Ireland or Éire.


More on U.K and Ireland

Metric Conversion
1.609 kilometres = 1 mile (0.621 miles = 1 km)
4.546 litres = 1 gallon (0.220 gallons = 1 litre)

English and Welsh are the two official languages of Britain. Scottish Gaelic, although not official, is spoken in some parts of Scotland, as well as English. English and Gaelic are spoken in the Republic of Ireland.

Time Zone
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT or UMT) operates except for British Summer Time, when clocks go forward 1 hour .

Banking and Business Hours
Generally, weekday opening hours are 9.30am to 4.30pm. Opening hours are decided by the individual banks and may vary widely from branch to brach depending on location. Many branches have 24-hour banking lobbies where many services may be obtained through machines. Overseas visitiors should check with their own bank if they will be able to access these facilitites. Some banks open all day on Saturday and a few on Sundays for limited hours. All banks are closed on public holidays. Some banks in Scotland close for an hour at lunchtime.

Postal Services
Post offices are generally open weekdays from 9am to 5.30pm. Main post office are also open on Saturday from 9am to 12.30pm. Individual post office opening times vary depending on the size and location of the branch. For details, phone Post Office Enquiries on +44 (0) 8457 223344.

Shopping Hours
Shops in Britain are generally open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5.30pm. Many department stores are open until 6pm and have a 'late night' on Wednesday or Thursday until 7pm or 8pm. Larger shops in major cities and towns also open for 6 hours on Sunday between 10am and 6pm, although opening hours vary. In small towns and villages, many shops close for one afternoon a week (often Wednesday) and some close for an hour at lunchtime. In many cities and towns, some large supermarkets (such as Tesco and Sainsburys) are open 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday.

British money is based on the decimal system: 100 pence (p) = 1 pound sterling (£). Notes are in £50, £20, £10 and £5 values. Coins are in £2, £1, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p and 1p values. Scottish £1 notes are still in use in Scotland. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have some different coins and notes form the mainland but the monetary system is the same. The currency of the Republic of Ireland is the Euro: 100 cents (c) = 1 euro.

Credit Cards
Credit cards showing the Visa, MasterCard or American Express symbols are widely accepted in Britain. Visitors with other cards should ask in advance or check if that symbol is displayed where they wish to use it. Retailers may now charge more for goods and services bought using credit card, but they are obliged to display clearly if different pricing applies.

Tipping Guide
Hotels: Most hotel bills include a service charge of 10-12%. Where a service charge is not included in a hotel restaurant, it is customary to give 10-15% of the restaurant billl and for rooms an optional amount to room staff.

Restaurants: Some restaurant bills include a service charge. Where a service charge is not included it is customary to leave a tip of 10-15% of the bill. Some restaurants include a suggested tip in the bill total.

Porterage: 50-75p per suitcase.

Taxis: 10-15% of the fare.

Hairdressers: £2.

Useful Telephone Numbers
100 Operator (free advice on domestic services)
118 500 Britain Directory Enquiries
118 505 International Directory Enquiries
999 Emergency Services: police, fire, ambulance
+353 Republic of Ireland dialling code

Public Payphones
A single rate for UK calls from a payphone applies at all times: 11p per minute (20p min). Only unused coins are returned, so try to avoid using 50p, £1 or £2 coins for short calls. International calls and mobiles and information/entertainment services are more expensive. For more details visit BT payphones. Due to the wide use of mobile phones, British Telecom has ceased using pre-paid phonecards, so payment options are cash, credit card (£1 connection fee) and Country calling card (available at outlets worldwide).

Weather and Climate
Whatever the season, British weather is liable to change from day to day, so if you're wondering what to pack, a good ideal is to bring layers of clothing, a waterproof coat or jacket and an umbrella.

Autumn (September - November)
In Autumn there can be very warm days, but also very cold ones too! Temperatures fluctuate between aeound 7° to 14°C but are likely to be much warmer in September than November.

Winter (December - early March)
Winter sees Britain's shortest and coldest days (about 7-8 hours of daylight) but these can be crisp and bright. Temperatures fluctuate from around 1° to 5°C.

Spring (March - May)
In Spring, one might enjoy wonderful sunny weather but then, it may equally be cold and wet. Temperatures range from about 6° to 11° C. May can have warm days up to around 18°C.

Summer (June - August)
Most summer days are warm but evenings can be cool. Temperatures average from 14° to 20°C, although it can be up to 28°C on some days.

Temperatures vary significantly between Scotland and Southern England. Generally, the further north, the colder it is likely to be.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day January 1, 2
St. Patrick's Day (NI, RI) March 17
Good Friday April 6
Easter Monday April 9
May Day May 2
Spring Bank Holiday May 30
Bank Holiday (RI) June 6
Orangemen's Day (NI) July 12
Summer Bank Holiday (S, RI) August 1
Summer Bank Holiday August 29
Bank Holiday (RI) October 31
Christmas Day December 25, 27
Boxing Day December 26
St.Stephen's Day (RI) December 26

School Holidays
The main summer holiday is from mid-July to early September. Children also have 2 weeks holidays at Christmas and Easter, plus 1 week in mid-October and mid-February. Actual dates vary between education authorities.

Electrical Voltage
Britain's standard electrical voltage is 240v AC, 50Hz. (230v AC, 50Hz in Republic of Ireland). A three square-pronged adapter plug and/or converter for appliances is required.

Medical Insurance
Australian citizens travelling to Britain are able to receive emergency medical treatment through a reciprocal agreement between Medicare and the British National Health Service. Medicare Australia's website has more details. You are strongly advised to take out adequate travel insurance before travelling to Britain. Your travel agent will be able to suggest a suitable policy.


Map of U.K and Ireland

U.K & Ireland Map

Top Places in U.K and Ireland

London – the Capital.
England's historic capital was the centre of the British Empire for generations, and is imbued with a sense of history. Modern London has retained its ancient heritage and remains the focus of world events.

Although now best known for its football teams, Manchester was once one of England's greatest Victorian cities and the birthplace of both rail travel and Rolls Royce cars.

The Romans established the City of Bath in AD 43 and this city, awash with architecture, history and culture, has been welcoming visitors ever since. Many of Bath's great buildings date back from its renaissance in the 18th century when it again became a fashionable spa town and played host to royalty and the aristocracy.


The Cotswolds region in England personifies country quaintness. With names like Chipping Campden, Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold, the Cotswold towns and villages have a fairy-tale-like air, with small bridges over shallow rivers, colourful gardens leading up to thatched cottages and Morris-dancing in the town square.

Cosmopolitan, colourful and over 1000 years old, Dublin presents a fine starting point for visitors to Ireland. This capital city is split in two by the River Liffey, which gives form to the city and has no less than nine bridges spanning it. Easily explored on foot, central Dublin presents a wealth of historic landmarks, from ancient cathedrals to gracious Georgian buildings that pay testimony to days gone by.

Cork is vibrant and cheerful, with music, theatre and film all playing a major role in city life, while world-renowned annual festivals add to the lively atmosphere. Cork is also the gastronomic capital of Ireland, with the widest variety of top class restaurants in the countryl.

Sitting on the edge of the spectacular scenery of Killarney National Park, Killarney is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland. A gateway to southwestern Ireland and a great place to discover the countryside, located on the popular Ring of Kerry route, which meanders through the Iveragh Peninsula.

A holiday in Edinburgh is a delight for the mind and the senses: this grand medieval city is bursting with ancient relics and vibrant contemporary life. Gothic churches stand side by side with palaces and modern galleries, and the nightlife of Edinburgh is legendary.

During the past few decades Glasgow has re-invented itself from a rather economically depressed post-war industrial centre to a modern metropolis with a thriving art and culture scene.There is plenty to see and do in Glasgow. You can also explore the surrounding countryside, boasting some of Scotland's most scenic mountains, glens, lochs and coastline.

The Highlands
The Highlands of Scotland contain some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. A timeless wonderland, where roads and railways cut through breathtaking mountain views, past the deep and mysterious lochs, through the world's finest whisky-producing regions, and up to the highest peaks in Britain. A visit to this highland wilderness, despite predictably unpredictable weather, ignites a very basic pleasure and can be a glorious and refreshing experience.