Geography and places of interest
Britain covers an area of 244,820 square kilometres (the 79th biggest country in the world).The only British border is the one between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, which is 360 kilometres long. The whole country is surrounded by water of the Atlantic ocean and the North sea (12,429 kilometres of coastline). Every place in Britain is less than 121 kilometres from the coast. The climate is temperate,warmed by the North Atlantic Current. More than one-half of the days are overcast. In summer the temperature rises to about 26°C and in winter the average temperature range from 5°C to 7°C.
Apart from Britain and Ireland themselves there are many islands such as the Hebrides, the Orkneys, the Shetlands, the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly or the Isle of Man. Britain´s terrain can simply be divided into lowlands and uplands. The best known uplands are the Pennine Range, the Cumbrian Mountains and the Northern Highlands with the highest point in Britain which is Ben Nevis (1,343 m). The mountains in the UK are not very high in fact. Two lowland regions can be found in Britain-in the southeast and east. The lowest point in the UK is Fenland and it is 4 m below the sea level. Everybody should know the Thames,which is the longest river and which flows through the city of London. Other important rivers are the Severn, the Avon, then the Clyde and the Spey in Scotland, the Dee and the Tywi in Wales and finally the Foyle in Northern Ireland.
As regards lakes, the Lake District is very popular and so are,of course, lakes in Scotland such as Loch Ness.
The UK is divided into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Britain consists of 47 boroughs, 36 counties, 29 London boroughs, 10 districts, 12 cities and 3 royal boroughs. Northern Ireland consists of 24 districts, 2 cities and 6 counties. Scotland only comprises several council areas and Wales comprises 11 county boroughs, 9 counties and 2 cities and counties. In the UK many big cities can be seen. The cities there are mostly a part of a conurbation (Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester). The largest cities and towns are: London (its population of 12 mil.), Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Besides these places there is much to see in Great Britain - university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, Shakespeare´s place of birth in Stratford-upon-Avon, medieval castles (Warwick for instance), Brighton and Hastings seaside resorts,which are popular mainly with romantic people and so on. British sights are also breath-taking.Well-known Stonehenge monument or Hadrian´s Wall in the north are typical examples.
In summer British people relax on the Isles of Scilly or the Isle of Man. Nowadays the UK is such a developed country that everybody can find what they like with no difficulties.
Last estimate,done in July 2002, shows us there are 59,778,002 people living in Britain at the moment. Life expectancy is 72 years for males and 78 for females. The population consists of original British as well as many ethnic groups, which settled in the British Isles after 1945. Up-to-date information about population says this:
81,5% English, 9,6% Scottish, 2,4% Irish, 1,9% Welsh, 1,8% Ulster, 2,8% Indian,Pakistani and the others.
It is possible to say that Great Britain is home for many nations. Impact of this is clear-British culture is very diverse and in a way very unique. The more ethnic groups live in Britain, the more religions and languages (and dialects) we can see there. Almost all religions are included in the UK. Sometimes it causes problems,for example arguments between 2 religious groups in Northern Ireland. Terroristic groups like IRA are known all over the world.
The official country name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We can also use short form The United Kingdom or simply the UK. The United Kingdom is constitutional monarchy with 2 legislative houses (House of Lords and House of Commons). Head of the state is either the queen or the king (Queen Elizabeth II. at the moment). Head of the government is the prime minister.
The British do not elect heads of state. The monarchy is hereditary and the prime minister is the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons. Elections are only held to choose people to the House of Commons and to the local parliaments (Welsh, N.Irish and Scottish).Every citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote(excluding mentally insane people etc.) . The most powerful political parties are Labor Party (Tony Blair), and Conservative and Unionist Party (Iain Duncan Smith).
Britain used to own a number of overseas territories such as India or Australia.The UK government still keeps some dependent areas (Gibraltar, Montserrat, Cayman Islands....etc.) and Britain´s former colonies are associated in Commonwealth. These states support one another economically and official head of all of them is the British Queen. The UK is participated in many international organizations (EBRD, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IBRD, ICAO, INTERPOL etc.) and its position there is really strong
The UK is a leading trading power and belongs among the top industrial countries. Agriculture is very well developed, mostly it is highly mechanized. The main products are oats, hay and barley. Cattle, sheep, poultry are the most important farm animals. Great Britain has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves. Electronics, cars, aircraft and oil are exported to many countries. The most usual trade partners are Germany, France, Ireland, the USA.
Services-particularly banking, insurance and business services increase in importance. Over the past two decades the government has greatly reduced public ownership. It has reflected in better standart of living. It is partly because of a strong British currency (one of the strongest in the world) called British Pound -GBP.
Interesting facts about Britain
* In 1997, 34,878 mil. main.lines telephones and 13 mil. mobile phones were in use in Britain
* 228 British TV channels and 431 FM radios broadcast made every day
* 33 mil. British are internet users
* Britain has 16,878 Km of railways and also owns 212 sea ships
* Pilots can use services of 470 airports and 13 heliports
* Military branches consist of Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force
* Military service is not compulsory in Britain