Great Britain (Velká Británie)

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland lies off the north-west coast of Europe across the English Channel between the North sea and Atlantic ocean. It consists of two large islands (Great Britain and Ireland) and about 5 000 smaller ones (for example: the Isle of Wight, the Isles of Scilly, the Hebrides, the Shetlands and the Channel Islands.

England is mostly rolling land. The main mountain regions here are the Cornish Heights (south-west), the Cambrians (Wales), the Pennines and the Cumbrian Mountains. The highest mountain is Ben Nevis 1 342 m and it is in the Highlands of Scotland.

The longest rivers are the Severn and the Thames. The Thames flows threw the capital London into the North sea. The Severn flow into the Bristol Channel.

The population is about 60 million. We can find the following ethnic groups: English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Ulster, Indian, Pakistan and others. The main language is English but we can find minority languages - Welsh, Scottish and Irish Gaelic.

Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as the head of state. Her powers are limited by constitution. The present Queen is Elizabeth II. Britain is divided into four parts: England - London, Wales - Cardiff, Scotland - Edinburgh and Northern Ireland - Belfast.

Besides London there are others big cities in England: Oxford and Cambridge are old University towns. Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Then are there Brighton, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Winchester - cathedral town, Plymouth, Birmingham - which is at the geographical heart of England and second largest town in Britain, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and York.

Wales is sometimes called the land of castles. The best known are Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech.

Scotland is the land of many special traditions which cannot be found elsewhere - playing the pipes, woollen knitwear, wearing kilts made of tartan, producing Scotch whisky...

The biggest city is Glasgow. It´s a economic and cultural centre in Scotland. The capital city is Edinburgh. The North of the Scotland is a large lake and mountains area. There is a world known Loch Ness.

Britain was part of the continent of Europe until about 6000 before Christ and has a very rich history. First arrived The Celts. It was 3000 years ago. Then in 43 The Romans invaded. They built camps, forts and roads throughout the land, which have been used for many centuries. The Romans staid in Britain for about 400 years. After them the waves of the Jutes, the Angles, the Viking and the Saxons arrived from German lands. They drove Celtic peoples into the mountains. The last successful invasion was by French speaking Normans led by William Duke of Normandy, who became William the Conqueror. After defeating the Saxon King Harold in 1066, established he a strong central government.

In 1215 was signed Magna Carta by King John. It was guarantee of rights and the rule of law.

English dynastic claims to large parts of France led to the Hundred Years´war (1338 and 1453) and the defeat of England. A long civil war, the War of the Roses, between the House of Lancaster and the House of York lasted from 1455 - 1485.

Under Queen Elizabeth 1, she ruled from 1558 to 1603, Britain became a major sea power, leading to the founding of colonies in the new world and the expansion of trade with Europe and Orient.

Scotland was united with England in 1603.

A struggle between Parliament and the Stuart kings led to a bloody Civil War (1642 -1649)

Technological innovations especially the invention of steam engine by James Watt in 1769, steam locomotive developed by George Stephenson, first public steam railway in 1825 led to the Industrial Revolution. The North American colonies were lost, but replaced by empires in Canada and India.

Britain´s role in the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 strengthened it´s position as the leading world power. Large parts of Africa and Asia were added to the empire during the reign of Queen Victoria. Britain played a big role in World War 1 and 2. She suffered huge economic losses. After the wars lost Britain its leading position to other powers. The Thatcher conservative government has however increased the role of private enterprise.

The main industries are steel, metals, vehicles, shipping, banking, insurance, textiles and electronics. 30 per cent of land is arable and the main agriculture’s products are grains, sugar, beet, fruit and vegetables. Lots of money earn cattle and sheep breeding. Britain´s natural riches are mainly coal, tin, oil, gas, iron, salt and other. Currency valid is 1 pound which has 100 pennies. The main Britain´s trading partners are Germany, the USA and France.

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