What are the human and physical geographical characteristics of the UK?

                                                                                                     UK relief map

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Physical characteristics

  • Most mountains and highland areas are located in the north-west of the UK, especially in Wales and Scotland.
  • Most of the south and east of the UK is relatively flat with a few hilly areas.
  • The north and west of the UK have generally high rainfall e.g. Aultbea in NW Scotland has an annual average of 1470mm.
  • The south and east of the UK have generally low rainfall e.g. London has an annual average of 560mm.
  • Rainfall tends to be higher in coastal areas thn inland
  • Rainfall is higher in areas of higher relief (i.e. mountainous areas get more rainfall than low lying areas)

UK annual rainfall map (mm)

                                                                                                             UK land use map

Human characteristics

  • Most of the land in the UK (around 70%) is used for agriculture. In the south and east, arable (crops) farming is more commonly found and grazing animals (pastoral farming) is more common in the north and west.
  • Under 10% of the land in the UK is built on, buildings are concentrated in urban areas, especially in SE England, the Midlands and central Scotland. These urban areas are increasing in size.
  • Forest covers approximately 13% of the UK’s land; some is natural and some is man-made (i.e. planted).

UK population density map (per sq km)

Image result for uk population density map

  • Population density is highest in major cities e.g. London, Glasgow, Birmingham. In London population density is around 5500 people per sq km.
  • Population density is also high in the areas surrounding cities or between major cities (e.g. between Liverpool and Manchester).
  • Mountainous regions (e.g. NW Scotland) have lower population densities
  • Other areas of low population density are north England and west Wales. For example, Eden in Cumbria has a population density of around 24 people per sq km.

What are the issues associated with the physical and human characteristics of the UK?

Image result for housing shortage Housing shortages: areas with high population density can experience issues such as a shortage of housing. In London, for example, up to 60,000 new houses are needed each year to keep up with population growth. A shortage of houses drives up prices so some people cannot afford to live there.

Also, in these areas, there may be pressure on other services such as healthcare and education.

Image result for water stress map uk

Water stress: areas with high population density use a lot of resources including water. Many of the areas with high population density also have lower annual rainfall. This causes water stress where there isn’t enough water to meet people’s needs. This then requires the transfer of water between areas of water surplus and areas of water deficit.