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Much of it consists of rolling hillsides, with the highest elevations found in the north, northwest, and southwest.
This landscape is based on complex underlying structures that form intricate patterns on England’s geologic map.
Today the metropolitan area of London encompasses much of southeastern England and continues to serve as the financial centre of Europe and to be a centre of innovation—particularly in popular culture.
One of the fundamental English characteristics is diversity within a small compass.
The oldest sedimentary rocks and some igneous rocks (in isolated hills of granite) are in Cornwall and Devon on the southwestern peninsula, ancient volcanic rocks underlie parts of the Cumbrian Mountains, and the most recent alluvial soils cover the Fens of Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, and Norfolk.
Between these regions lie bands of sandstones and limestones of different geologic periods, many of them relicts of primeval times when large parts of central and southern England were submerged below warm seas.
A varied panorama of cliffs, bays, and river estuaries distinguishes the English coastline, which, with its many indentations, is some 2,000 miles (3,200 km) long.Slate covers most of the northern portion of the mountains, and thick beds of lava are found in the southern part.Other sedimentary layers have yielded chains of hills ranging from 965 feet (294 metres) in the North Downs to 1,083 feet (330 metres) in the Cotswolds.Outside the British Isles, England is often erroneously considered synonymous with the island of Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and even with the entire United Kingdom.
Despite the political, economic, and cultural legacy that has secured the perpetuation of its name, England no longer officially exists as a governmental or political unit—unlike Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which all have varying degrees of self-government in domestic affairs.
It is rare for institutions to operate for England alone.