Téma: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK is a state located on the British Isles – the geographical term for two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and about 5000 smaller ones (including the Isle of Man, Orkney, the Shetlands). It is situated to the northwest of the European continent, between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It is part of Europe but separated from France by the English Channel.
The UK is made up of four countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- ENGLAND – the capital city is London (it is also the capital of the whole UK); the flag consists of St George’s red horizontal cross on the white field; national emblem is the rose; the patron saint of England is St George
- SCOTLAND – the capital city is Edinburgh, the biggest city is Glasgow; the flag consists of St Andrew’s white X-shaped cross on the blue field; national emblem is thistle; St Andrew is the patron saint
- WALES – the capital city is Cardiff; the flag is made up of two bands, green and white, between which there is a red dragon; national emblem is daffodil and leek; St David is the patron saint of Wales
- NORTHERN IRELAND – the capital city and also the largest is Belfast (Titanic was built there); the flag of Ireland is formed by the St Patrick’s red diagonal cross on the white field – this flag formed the Union Jack; the flag of the Northern Ireland is different it is made up of red horizontal cross on the white field and in the middle of this cross there is a crowned six-pointed white star in which there is a red hand; national emblem is shamrock; St Patrick is the patron saint of this country
The north and north-west of the country are more mountainous, while the south and east have softer rolling hills and flat lands. Mountains: the Cambrians, the Cumbrian Mountains, the Pennines (the backbone of England), the Grampians Mountains. The highest peak of the UK is Ben Nevis, the highest peak of England is Scafell Pike and of Wales it is Snowdon.
The longest river is the River Severn, flowing through Wales and England, followed by the River Thames. The north of Great Britain is famous for its freshwater lochs (lakes). The largest one is Loch Lomond and famous Loch Ness with tourist attraction monster “Nessie”.
The mild climate means that there are no real weather extremes.
The British flag, known as the Union Jack, is a combination of three flags – English, Irish and Scottish. The flag is formed by the Saint Andrew’s cross, the Saint Patrick’s cross and the Saint Gorge’s cross.
The UK is very populated country with over 60 million people. The density is one of the highest in the world. Nearly 84 % of the population lives in England.
The main language spoken is English. There are minority languages that are of Celtic origin – Welsh, Scottish and Irish Gaelic. In Wales most people are bilingual (English + Welsh).
The main industries are steel, metals, vehicles, shipbuilding, shipping, banking, insurance, textiles, chemicals, electronics, aircraft and machinery.
The main agricultural products are grain, sugar, beet, fruit and vegetables. World known is British sheep and cattle breeding.
Britain’s natural resources are coal, tin, oil, gas, iron, tin, salt, chalk, lead, limestone.
It is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy with a monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II.
- constitution – monarch’s power is limited by it; isn’t written; based on common law – flexible
- Queen’s functions:
- the head of the UK and Commonwealth
- the head of the Church of England
- gives audiences to foreign guests
- gives orders, titles at Buckingham Palace twice a year
- commander – in – chief of armed forces
- signs laws
- has the right of veto (she’s never used it)
- opens the Parliament (speech in the House of Lords)
- has social and ceremonial functions
The executive power of the Crown is exercised by the Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, currently Theresa May. Prime Minister must be a member of the House of Commons. She/he lives at Downing Street No. 10.
The Cabinet is responsible to the Parliament.
Ministers are appointed by the Queen.
The legislative power is represented by the Parliament. The seat of the Parliament is in the Westminster Palace. It is one of the oldest Parliaments in the world; it has its roots in 13th century.
The main function of it is to make and revise laws and to check the work of government, so it’s law-making body.
Britain’s parliament has two chambers:
- House of Commons (the Lower House) – every 5 years people elect members
- House of Lords (the Upper House) – this House can “block” money laws for 1 month and delay other laws for 13 months; members of this House aren’t elected; there are hereditary peers – aristocrats, inherit the seat, the right is passed through generations; and life peers – members for their lifetime, they made something special so the Queen gave them the seat; there are two groups of lords:
- Lords Temporal
- Lords Spiritual: 24 bishops and 2 archbishops (York and Canterbury)
There are two main political parties in the United Kingdom: the Conservative Party (right-wing) and the Labour Party (left-wing). The third largest party is the Liberal Democrats.
Recently, there has been a process called devolution. This means that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland now have their own parliaments. (the Scottish National Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the North Ireland Assembly)
PLACES OF INTEREST
- British capital
- major sights are situated there
- lots of galleries, museums, including the British Museum
- also modern architecture: London Eye, Skyscrapers
Oxford & Cambridge
- the famous university towns
- their universities are among the oldest in the world
- was established as a sap town by the ancient Romans
- built over hot springs
- famous beautiful chalk cliffs on the coast
- “Seven Sisters”
- on the borders between England and Scotland
- it was built by Romans against Celtic warriors (they fought naked with their faces painted – to scare enemy)
- the main attraction of this city is its medieval cathedral
- it was built eight hundred years ago
- Magna Carta – the famous document that the British constitution is based on
- some 15 km from Salisbury
- the best-known prehistoric monument in the world
- it was built around 2500 BC
- it consists of circles of big standing stones
- it may have served as a burial ground or there were some religious ceremonies
- the birthplace of William Shakespeare
- can visit the house where he was born
- the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
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