The countries of the UK
Click on the name of any region on the map for more on that region
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as its full official name is, is divided into four main parts which, although strictly speaking belonging to the same country, are usually referred to as "countries" themselves, due to different history, heritage, tradition.
They are called "home countries", and they are: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.
In recent years, through a process called "devolution", they have acquired their own parliaments and governing bodies.
Regions of England
There are nine traditional regions of England.
They have some, albeit limited, administrative powers.
They are considered the standard regions of England, and their main role is as demarcations of distinct areas with differences deriving from geography and history.
England is a homogeneous, uniform country with a developed sense of common identity. This is helped by its relatively small size, although other European countries of similar extension have more regional differentiations (for instance Italy).
As is always the case, geographical and historical factors are responsible for both assimilation and diversification.
For example, mountain ranges and river estuaries form natural boundaries. In the north, the east and west are separated by the Pennines. The Thames, the Severn and the Humber estuaries also delimit different areas.
London, as the country's capital and one of the great cities of the world, has its own region.
Greater London once had as its ruling body the Greater London Council (GLC), which was then abolished by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1986 due to the profligacy and inefficiency in public spending of the GLC leader Ken Livingstone, also known as "Red Ken", a politician on the radical left wing of the Labour Party.
Most of the GLC's powers were then devolved to the various London borough councils and local authorities. This made London quite unique in the world as a metropolis without a single central ruling organism.
In the year 2000 a new London-wide governing body was established, the Greater London Authority (GLA).
This was very different from the GLC, though. Some of the accusations levelled against the GLC was that its governance of London was unaccountable, unrepresentative, partisan and undemocratic.
The GLA consists of a directly elected Mayor of London and the London Assembly. In 2000 Londoners' "old friend" Ken Livingstone became London's first elected mayor. In 2008 the Conservative Boris Johnson, a colourful character who led the victorious 2016 referendum campaign for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union and who, according to opinion polls, is the UK's most popular politician, was elected as the Mayor of London. He has been replaced in 2016 by the current mayor, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim politician representing the Labour Party and London's first Muslim mayor.
These are the 9 standard regions of England with links to their pages: