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Until 1920, Ireland was incorporated within the United Kingdom.
The present-day nation also includes the Channel Islands off the coast of France and the Isle of Man between Britain and Ireland, which are substantially self-governing.
Before and after World War II, political and religious refugees and displaced persons from the Baltic countries, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary were offered shelter in Britain and remained, along with some prisoners of war.
Other immigrants of European ancestry who were born in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and South and East Africa, along with Greek and Turkish Cypriots, also settled in Britain.
Except for some areas of barren upland and bog, most of the land is suitable for agriculture and has been grazed or cultivated since the Bronze Age.
The natural vegetation is mixed oak woodland, but most of the terrain has been cleared for agriculture or for shipbuilding and charcoal for smelting.
Northern Ireland and Scotland have separate legal and educational systems and issue their own currency; Wales is fully incorporated within the English legal, educational, and banking systems.
Recent referendums in Scotland and Wales have resulted in the establishment of a Scottish Parliament which is still under the general jurisdiction of London but has limited local taxraising powers, and the Welsh Assembly, which does not have tax-raising powers.Support for soccer and rugby teams became significant during the twentieth century, and teams now command fierce local loyalties as sport has come to symbolize male pride and self-image in a society where mining and manufacturing have declined.Forms of personal commitment that transcend locality include vegetarianism and environmentalism: the first is predominantly middle class and female, and the second is identified less with gender and socioeconomic status.After the late 1940s, many of non-European overseas immigrants arrived, predominantly from the colonies, including people of Indian and African ancestry from the West Indies and Guyana; people from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; and Chinese from Hong Kong and Singapore.The 1991 census, the first to include ethnic background, enumerated three million Britons of non-European birth or ancestry. Regional and cultural relationships are expressed in marked linguistic differences.People in the Northern Isles are bilingual in English and an unwritten creolized form of Old Norse; in the Channel Islands, the Norman French patois is nearly extinct; and in Cornwall, there are no natural speakers of Cornish, although the language has been reconstructed.