Téma: The Great Britain
Location, area, population:
The British Isles are formed the two major islands of Great Britain and Ireland and more than 5000 small ones. The isles are washed off by the North Sea in the north and east, by the Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean in the west. On the south, England and France are divided by the La Manche Channel.
England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain) together with Northern Ireland form the country officially known as “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” or simply the United Kingdom (UK). Its area is about 250 thousand square miles. The population is more than 60 million people.
The islands off Northern Scotland include the Shetlands, the Orkneys and the Hebrides. The Isle of Anglesey off the Northwest coast of Wales, the Isle of Wight off the southern coast of England, the Isles of Arran and Bute close to the estuary(ústí) of the Clyde in Scotland, Achill and the Aran Islands off the western coast of Ireland, the Isles of Scilly off the English Cornwall peninsula(poloostrov) and many more little islands. The Channel Islands are the only part of the UK where French is spoken and they include the isles of Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney, although they are geographically closer to France. In English, there is geographical term British Isles and an official political name British Islands that includes the United Kingdom, the Isles of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. They are located in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man is one of the most important British islands.
The island of Great Britain can be divided into two regions. Lowland Britain and Highland Britain.
Lowland Britain covers infantile rock of the midland, southern and eastern England. Highland Britain comprises Scotland, Wales, the Pennies-which are called the backbone(páteř) of England; there are Cumbrians in the northern part and the Lake District consisting mainly of very old rocky mountains and hilly regions.
The highest peak is Ben Nevis (1343m), it’s a part of Scottish Highlands –in Grampians– and the highest mountain in Wales is Snowdon (1085m).
The longest river is Severn and the longest lake is Loch Fyne, which is situated in Scotland. The biggest British lake is Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland.
Other rivers of British Island are the Thames, the Avon, the Cam, the Tyne, the Humber, the Trent, etc.
The climate in Great Britain is influenced by the Gulf Stream. So it’s quite warm in England but it rains really often. The climate is mild and humid with average temperature. In winter the temperature is about 4°C ranging to 16°C in summer. In summer, the daylight is longer and the weather is generally fine, 23-25°C.
Countries (capitals, languages, flags, symbols, saints)
The British national flag is called Union Jack and it’s a combination of St. George’s Cross(symbolizing England), St. Andrew’s Cross(Scotland) and St.Patrick’s Cross(Ireland). First, it was only a diagonal white cross on a blue background. In 1801, Ireland joined the UK and a red diagonal cross was added. Wales and Northern Ireland have their own flags. The national anthem is “God Save the Queen!”. St. George is the patron of England.
England is the southern part of Great Britain. It’s the largest country of United Kingdom. England is only 35 km away from France. The capital city is London, it’s one of the biggest cities in Europe.
Wales is a mountainous country on the western side of Great Britain. The capital of Wales is Cardiff and the patron of the country is Saint David. Most people are bilingual (Welsh and English). The national instrument is harp and the symbol is daffodil. Wales is sometimes called a land of castles. The first son of English kings holds the title Prince of Wales.
Cardiff-Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Castle
Scotland The biggest city is Glasgow but the capital of Scotland is Edinburgh. There is Edinburgh castle that was home of Scotland’s royal family until 1603. Holyrood House and Royal Mile. The symbol is thistle and the patron is Saint Andrew. The typical instrument is the pipe and typical Scott is dressed in a pleated tartan kilt. Scotland may be divided into three regions. There are lots of lakes, the longest one is Loch Fyne and the famous one is Loch Ness with a monster Nessie. The traditional scotish sports are tossing the caber, curling, tossing the hammer or a tug-of-war.
The United Kingdom is divided into areas called counties(hrabství). There are 39 of them in England, 34 in Scotland, 13 in Wales and 6 counties in Northern Ireland. The UK doesn’t include the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. These are direct dependencies of the British Crown. They have their own legislative, monetary or taxation systems. Each of them has their own parliaments and a Governor named by the Queen.
Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen Elizabeth II. as a head of the state. She is also a supreme commander(vrchní velitelka) of the armed forces and follows the advice of the Cabinet. The British Parliament is one of the oldest in the world. It includes the sovereign(panovník), the House of Lords(horní sněmovna) with hereditary(dědiční) members and lifetime peers(šlechtic), archbishops and bishops and the Lower House is called House of Commons with 650 elected and paid members. The main role of the Upper House is to adopt laws, and Lord Chancellor is its head. General election-in which members of the Lower House are elected- are held every five years. The party that wins the majority of seats in Parliament forms a government while the one that comes second is the main opposition party and forms the Shadow Cabinet. Ministries are named by the Queen and after discuss with Prime Minister, they forme the Cabinet. The Cabinet is responsible to the Parliament.
The original inhabitants were the Celts and there are remnants(zbytky) of their language in Welsh and Scottish and Irish Gaelic. Nowadays there are the English, the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish. The official language is English but many people in Wales and Scotland are bilingual.
Romans had a big influence on the UK, for example they built Hadrian’s Wall against the invasion of Celtic tribes. The very important date is 1066 when William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy) beat the English King Harold in the Battle of Hastings. It’s also possible to see French influence of Normans in English language. In 1215 King John signed the Magna Carta. There was also a Hundred Year’s War against France and The War of Roses was a civil war between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Then the new dynasty, the Tudors gained the throne. The famous sovereign of this dynasty was Henry VIII who had six wives. Elizabeth I the Virgin Queen was a daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Her rightful heir was her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1603 the Scottish King James VI became King James I of England and both countries were linked. In civil war Oliver Cromwell declared England a republic and King Charles was executed(popraven). Then was the Stuart Monarchy restored.
Queen Victoria is associated with the greatest expansion and economic growth (she made some African and Asian regions part of the Empire). In 1921, Ireland declared independence.
Industry, agriculture, transport:
The British are mostly protestant. It was Henry VIII who split from the Roman Catholic Church and established the Church of England (he wanted to divorce with his first wife). Since then the kings and queens of England gave been crowned as the official heads of the Church.)
U.K. is a member of NATO, UNESCO and the European Union although with the latter membership is different as compared to other member of EU.
British economy is based mainly on manufacture and trade. There are just few natural resources, so a lot of materials for the industries have to be imported. Manchester is known for the cotton good, in Glasgow there are shipyards, Coventry is famous for car industry (Jaguar cars). The southern part of England is called green country for its meadows, orchards and vineyards.
Cities and other places of interest:
London: It’s a place where usually the most of the tourist start their exploring. It’s the capital and it has enough attractions to entertain the visitors for several days. Apart from the must-sees there are many museums or parks where you can relax.
Oxford: It’s famous university town, situated on Thames. University ceremonies and concerts are held in Sheldonian Theatre, designed by Christopher Wren. The Oxford University is the oldest one in the English-speaking world.
Cambridge: It’s also a famous university town lying on the river Cam. Rowing competitions are organizing every year.
Brighton: It’s a famous seaside resort south of London. The Royal Pavilion is a famous attraction because of its style. There is a mixture of the Indian, Arabic and Chinese styles.
Liverpool: It’s an industrial town, but it also became famous as the birthplace of the Beatles. It became one of the world’s greatest cities and ports because of its history.
Canterbury: The town is known for the cathedral where the archbishop Thomas Beckett was murdered. It became a destination for Christian pilgrims.
Salisbury Plains: They are famous for a place called Stonehenge. There are giant stones in a circle. In assumption they are 3000 years old. It’s kind of mystery.
Bath: Bath was established by the Romans as a spa town. The town is connected with writer Jane Austen, who used to live there.
Lake District: It’s a National Park. There are many lakes; the biggest one is Lake Windermere. The region is connected with Lake Poets. They used to live there and write about the countryside /William Wordsworth/.
Portsmouth: If you’re interested in naval history, you should go there and visit Royal Naval Museum with a lot of monuments.
Nottingham: and the nearby Sherwood Forest are well known as the home of the legendary Robin Hood. There is also the oldest pub in England.
York: York is famous for its large Gothic cathedral.
Stratford upon Avon: It’s a birthplace of one of the greatest playwrights in history – William Shakespeare. You can visit his house and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Or you can just take a walk through the streets with old houses from Shakespeare’s time.
Cornwall: There is Tintagel Castle which is said to be a birthplace of King Arthur. It’s also popular for its long and beautiful coastline.