A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment licensed to serve alcoholic drinks for consumption on the premises in countries and regions of British influence. Although the terms often have different connotations, there is little definitive difference between pubs, bars, inns, taverns and lounges where alcohol is served commercially. A pub that offers lodging may be called an inn or hotel in the UK. Today many pubs in the UK, Canada and Australia with the word "inn" or "hotel" in their name no longer offer accommodation, or in some cases have never done so. Some pubs bear the name of "hotel" because they are in countries where stringent anti-drinking laws were once in force. In Scotland until 1976, only hotels could serve alcohol on Sundays.
There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. In many places, especially in villages, a pub can be the focal point of the community, so there is concern that more pubs are closing down than new ones opening. The history of pubs can be traced back to Roman taverns, through the Saxon alehouse, to the development of the modern tied house system - a period of huge growth in the number of drinking establishments.
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