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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.
The Eden, Ribble, and Mersey rise in the Pennines, flow westward, and have a short course to the Atlantic Ocean.
With the loss of Britain’s vast overseas empire in the mid 20th century, England suffered an identity crisis, and much energy has been devoted to discussions of “Englishness”—that is, not only of just what it means to be English in a country that now has large immigrant populations from many former colonies and that is much more cosmopolitan than insular but also of what it means to be English as opposed to British.
While English culture draws on the cultures of the world, it is quite unlike any other, if difficult to identify and define.
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.