Loved by its people, hated by everyone else. Shares a common heritage with the peoples of Europe, but that common heritage mostly consists of having had wars with all of them for the past thousand years.
England's national character essentially owes itself to the Norman Conquest, in which the indigenous (i.e., were invaders themselves only five centuries earlier) Anglo-Saxons had their culture and nobility crushed by a French-speaking upper class. England's obsession with the class system, distrust of all French-speakers and completely illogical language (invented by Norman knights to chat up Saxon barmaids) can all be traced back to this.
Over the past century or so the English national identity has slept while the “oppressed” Celts of Ireland, Scotland and Wales asserted themselves within the UK, but it has recently undergone something of an awakening. Contrary to popular belief, Cornwall is just another county of England, although it does have the status of a royal duchy.
Not all English people still speak like those from 1950s public information films, although MrP does. England has a wide range of culturally separated regions - a largely proletarian, rural/industrial North and a bourgeois, more urbanised South, and then within those numerous counties or regions have strong identities. Despite this, recent years appear to suggest that English people reject being governed based on regional rather than English identity.
England is often confused with Britain or the UK, especially by Americans and also by some Europeans.
England is the green bit with the cricketers and green fields making up the southern half of Great Britain.
Great Britain is the largest island off the coast of France (separated by a dozen or so miles geographically and several million light-years in public imagination). It is made up of England, Wales and Scotland.
The United Kingdom is the name of the nation-state which includes all of Great Britain and the northern counties of Ireland as one unified kingdom. Should properly be abbreviated to “Britain” or “the UK”, not “Great Britain” or, God forbid, “UK” with no definite article.
The unofficial national anthem of England is “Jerusalem”.
From 1066 to 1974 with very little fiddling, England was divided into about 85 counties, now commonly referred to as 'traditional counties'. Each county elected two MPs to the pre-reform Parliament, this being the inspiration for the US system in which each state elects two Senators. Also, every county had a Lord Lieutenant to enforce the King's will there, later backed up with a County Council.
In 1974 the cockheaded arsemongers known as the Tory government enforced an absurdly arbitrary new county system which has been repeatedly fiddled with since then and practically everyone ignores, except Liverpudlians, as they rather resented being part of Lancashire. England is also divided into several larger arbitrary regions for European Parliament elections, water board divisions, local television stations etc., but to confuse and annoy, none of these divisions are quite the same for each thing.
So, here we shall list the traditional counties as they're the only unambiguous ones :