All of our Questions are BRAND NEW to match the LATEST 2024 Test Material

The UK Today

The UK today is a more diverse society than it was 100 years ago, in both ethnic and religious terms. Post-war immigration means that nearly 10% of the population has a parent or grandparent born outside the UK. The UK continues to be a multinational and multiracial society with a rich and varied culture.
This section will tell you about the different parts of the UK and some of the important places. It will also explain some of the UK’s traditions and customs and some of the popular activities that take place.

The Welfare State

The UK is located in the northwest of Europe. The longest distance on the mainland is from John O’Groats on the north coast of Scotland to Land’s End in the southwest corner of England. It is about 870 miles (approximately 1,400 kilometers).
Most people live in towns and cities, but much of Britain is still countryside. Many people continue to visit the countryside for holidays and for leisure activities such as walking, camping, and fishing.

Cities of the UK

England: London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, Manchester, Bradford, Newcastle upon Tyne, Plymouth, Southampton, and Norwich
Wales: Cardiff, Swansea, and Newport
Northern Ireland: Belfast
Scotland: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Aberdeen

Capital cities

  • The capital city of the UK is London
  • The capital city of Scotland is Edinburgh
  • The capital city of Wales is Cardiff
  • The capital city of Northern Ireland is Belfast

UK currency

The currency in the UK is the pound sterling (symbol £). There are 100 pence in a pound. The denominations (values) of currency are:
Coins: 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, and £2
Notes: £5, £10, £20, £50
Northern Ireland and Scotland have their own banknotes, which are valid everywhere in the UK. However, shops and businesses do not have to accept them.

Languages and dialects

There are different ways of speaking in the UK. The English language has different accents and ways of talking. In Wales, some people speak a language called Welsh, which is different from English. It is taught in schools and universities. In Scotland, there is another language called Gaelic that is spoken in certain parts of the Highlands and Islands. In Northern Ireland, some people speak Irish Gaelic.


The table below shows how the population of the UK has changed over time.

Year Population
1600 Just over 4 million
1700 5 million
1801 8 million
1851 20 million
1901 40 million
1951 50 million
1998 57 million
2005 Just under 60 million
2010 Just over 62 million
2017 Just over 66 million
The population of the UK has been growing faster in recent years. This is because more people have been moving to the UK and people are living longer.
The population is not evenly spread across the four parts of the UK. England has about 84% of the total population, Wales has around 5%, Scotland has just over 8%, and Northern Ireland has less than 3%.

An ageing population

In the UK, people are living longer than before because of better living conditions and healthcare. This means there are more people who are 85 years old or older than ever before. This has an effect on the cost of pensions and healthcare services.

Ethnic diversity

The population of the UK is diverse in terms of ethnicity, and this diversity is increasing rapidly, especially in large cities like London. It can be challenging to determine the exact ethnic background of every individual in the population.
People in the UK come from various ethnic backgrounds from all around the world. In surveys, the most commonly chosen ethnic category is "white," which includes people of European, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and American descent. There are also significant groups of people with Asian, black, and mixed ethnic backgrounds.

An equal society

In the UK, it is against the law to discriminate against individuals based on their gender or marital status. Both men and women have equal rights to work, own property, get married, and get divorced. If married, both parents share equal responsibility for their children.
Women in Britain make up about half of the workforce. On average, girls tend to leave school with better qualifications than boys, and more women than men pursue higher education.
Employment opportunities for women have significantly increased over time. Women now work in various sectors of the economy, and there are more women in senior management positions in traditionally male-dominated fields. Similarly, men now have more diverse job options compared to the past.
It is no longer expected for women to solely stay at home and not work. Many women continue their careers after having children. In many families today, both partners work, and they share the responsibilities of childcare and household chores.

Make Sure You Understand

  • The capital cities of the UK: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh
  • Languages other than English spoken in certain parts of the UK: Welsh in Wales, Gaelic in some parts of Scotland, and Irish Gaelic in Northern Ireland
  • How the population of the UK has changed: Population growth has been faster recently due to migration and longer life expectancy
  • The UK as an equal society and ethnically diverse: Men and women have equal rights and opportunities, and the UK has a diverse population
  • The currency of the UK: Pound sterling (£), divided into pence, with coins (1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2) and banknotes (£5, £10, £20, £50)