close menu
Big Ben and traffic night

UK facts and figures

If you’re not sure where to start your UK research, have a look at some of the information below. This three-minute crash course will give you all the essential information you need to know about the UK.

The basics

The UK is short for “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. It is a sovereign state, in the same way as France or the US. But, and this is where it gets odd, the UK is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The term “Great Britain” refers to a landmass, not a country. The term “Great’’ is used, simply because it is the largest island in the British Isles, with the countries of England, Scotland and Wales within its shores.

Capital cities

  • England: London
  • Wales: Cardiff
  • Scotland: Edinburgh
  • Northern Ireland: Belfast

UK population size

As of 2017, the approximate population size is 65.5 million people.

Official languages

Britain has two official languages: English and Welsh - English being the most commonly spoken. Scottish Gaelic is also spoken in some parts of Scotland.


The UK is a constitutional monarchy that is a representative democracy.

The monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, is recognized as the head of state. The sovereign of the UK also acts as head of state of fifteen other Commonwealth countries, putting the UK in a union with those states. The Crown has sovereignty over the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey.

The elected Prime Minister is the head of government.

Economic profile

The UK is a leading trading power and a financial centre. Agriculture is an important industry and highly efficient. Primary energy, like coal and oil, are major contributors to the economy, but services like banking and insurance are the greatest contributors.


Britain uses the Pound Sterling. The sign for the Great British Pound (GBP) is £.

Time zone

  • Winter months: Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
  • Summer months: UTC + 1


Britain has a fairly temperate climate and is sometimes overcast. The weather can vary greatly from day to day, but generally summer (June-August) is a warm 14-25° C and winter (December-February) is a cool 1-4° C.

Major UK holidays 2017

  • 14 April: Good Friday
  • 17 April: Easter Monday
  • 1 May: Early May bank holiday
  • 29 May: Spring bank holiday
  • 28 August: Summer bank holiday
  • 26 December: Boxing Day
  • 25 December: Christmas Day

Weights and measures

Historically, the UK used the imperial system. The metric system is now more commonly used, with the exception of a few items, for example distance and speed are measured in miles and miles per hour.


Voltage is 240 volts AC at 50HZ. Appliances generally use standard 3-pin square plugs and sockets.


Everything you need to know about moving to the UK

South Africa

Cape Town

Regent Square
Doncaster Road
Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120


25 Richefond Circle
Umhlanga 4320 +27 (0) 31 536 8844

United Kingdom


One Croydon
12-16 Addiscombe Road
Croydon CR0 0XT +44 (0) 20 7759 7514



9 Yarra Street
South Yarra
VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services Licence issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS Licence number 335 126).

We use cookies to provide the best website experience for you. Using this website means that you agree to this. How we use cookies.