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Great Britain

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5. Great Britain Great Britain is situated in the British Isles. It consists of three parts: England, Wales and Scotland. Britain consists of 2 large islands (Great Britain and Ireland) and about 5,000 smaller ones. Its neighbours are Southern Ireland and France. The British Isles are situated in the northeast of the Atlantic Ocean. From Europe they are divided by the English Channel. In May 1994,the Channel Tunnel was opened between England and France. Now it is possible to travel through the Channel by train. Britain consists of 4 major areas each with its own history. Each of them has its autonomy and constitutional arrangements (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). The sea surrounding the land brings a lot of advantages to the country. One of them is fishing and another naval transportation. Britain can be divided into lowland and highland areas. England has hills while Scotland and Wales are mountainous. The most mountainous area of Great Britain is Scotland. The highest mountain is Ben Nevis – it measures 1,343 m. The lowland areas occupy the main part of the major island’s southern half. Only the eastern part of England is really flat. The lowlands are more suitable for the production of agricultural crops and the soil is more fertile. The rivers are very important as sources of energy. The biggest river in Great Britain is the Thames. Its length is 336 km. The longest river is the Severn. Its length is 338 km. The greatest number of lakes can be found in Northern Scotland and in the Lake District. From the Scottish lakes the most famous are Loch Lomond and, especially, Loch Ness. The lakes are not important for freight transport but they are a big tourist attraction. Britain has a mild climate because of the Gulf Stream, which comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Winter temperatures are higher and summer temperatures are lower. British natural resources are coal in Scotland and Northern England and oil and natural gas in Scotland. British farms raise sheep and cattle and grow grain and vegetables. In Southern England most people work in services such as tourism, banking, insurance and the professions. The service sector does not manufacture goods. Southern England is much richer than Northern England and Scotland. In Northern England and Scotland, people often work in mining and manufacturing. The population of Great Britain is about 60 million people. The density is one of the highest in the world. The largest cities are London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester. The best-known newspapers and magazines in Britain are The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mirror. The best-known channels are BBC I, BBC II, ITV and Channel IV. The British currency is the pound. Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy. Parliamentary democracy is practised there. Parliament consists of 2 houses – the House of Lords (hereditary for life) and the House of Commons. There are 635 seats here. Elections take place after 5 years. The Prime Minister selects the other ministers. The second most powerful party forms the Opposition. Scotland and Edinburgh Scotland is the country to the north of England. It is part of Great Britain. Scottish people belong to clans. (For example, the Cameron clan is everyone with the last name Cameron.) When the Scottish went to war, they played the bagpipes and wore the kilt of their clan. They also did a war dance called a sword dance, where they jumped over swords. In Scotland sheep are raised and the country is famous for its wool. Scotland is also famous for Scotch whisky. The biggest city in Scotland is Glasgow. Glasgow is a former important industrial and shipbuilding centre. Now there are great problems with unemployment and drug use. Glasgow has 2 universities, famous art galleries and an Arts Festival in May. It also has an International Jazz Festival. The historic capital of Scotland is Edinburgh. It is a beautiful city in the east of Scotland. There is a castle dominating the city, as in Prague. Every year there is an International Festival of Music and Dance in Edinburgh.

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