Great Britain - Geography, Economy, Political system, History
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2. GREAT BRITAIN Geography The UK of GB and Northern Ireland covers an area of about 244 thousand square kilometres. GB is a group of islands off the Nwestern coast of Europe. The largest island includes the countries of England,Scotland and Wales. Together with Northern Ireland,geographically part of Ireland,they constitute the UK. GB is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. The Irish Sea extends between GB and the Republic of Ireland. GB is separated from France by the English Channel and the Strait of Dover. There lie many islands near the British coast. The largest are the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea,the Isle of Wight off the southern coast of England,the Isles of Scilly off the extreme south-west,Anglesey off North Wales. Western Scotland is surrounded by numerous islands-The Hebrides-and to the far north the Orkneys and the Shetlands.The Channel Islands near the French coast belong to the UK. The land area of the UK is divided between lowlands and uplands.The northern mountain region in England includes Pennine Range in the Cumbrian Mountains of the Lake District. The principal rivers in England are the Thames and the Severn. In Scotland Kaledonian Highland and Grampian Mountains extend. The highest mountain is Ben Nevis ( 1,343 m )- it is also the highest mountain in the UK. The main rivers in Scotland are the Clyde,Spey and Tweed. Most of Wales is occupied by the Cambrian Mountains with the highest mountain Snowdon ( 1085 m ). The largest lake in GB we can find in the Northern Ireland- Lough Neagh. But Scottish lakes Loch Ness and Loch Lomond are the most popular. The climate in the UK is mild but always unpredictable,changeable and it is often rainy there. Economy The UK is one of the largest economies in the European Union with energy-rich reserves of gas and oil under the North Sea. The country concentrates on the production of coal and steel,sells abroad machinery,automobiles,computers,electrical and electronics goods,and oil. The most important industrial centres are London,Liverpool, in the Midlands-Birmingham,Coventry,Nottingham and Leicester,in Wales- Cardiff and Swansea,in Scotland-Glasgow and Aberdien. The main products in agriculture are oats,hay,wheat,barley and sugar beets. Cattle,sheep, pigs and poultry are the most important farm animals in the UK. Political System The UK is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. In the head of state is a reigning monarch ( nowadays Queen Elizabeth II ). Parliament exercises the executive power and consists of the Sovereign, the House of Lords ( The Upper House ) and the House of Commons ( The Lower House ). Magna Charta and other historical documents ( dating back to 1215 ) form the base of British legal system ( + customary law ). GB is also a member of NATO ( North Atlantic Treaty Organization ) and EEC ( European Economic Community ). History The early inhabitants of Britain were Celts who also settled in Ireland about 500 BC. At the 1st century AD the island was subdued by Rome. In the 5th century Nordic tribes of Angles,Saxons and Jutes invaded Britain and forced many Celtic inhabitants into Cornwall and Wales. Christianity began to spread in the 6th century and during the 8th and 9th centuries,Vikings,particularly Danes often sent their armies to Britain. William of Normandy conquered England in 1066 and became William the Conqueror. The house of Stewart ascended to the Scottish throne in 1371 with the coronation of Robert II. The Tudors became the ruling family of England following the War of the Roses in the 15th century. Henry VIII established the Church of England and Wales was fused with England. The reign of Elizabeth I started a period of colonial expansion in the 16th century. She defeated Spain in a great battle.In the head of the fleet were the pirates- Ch.Releigh and Sir Francis Drake ( they founded the British sea empire ). Scottish Queen Mary´s son James VI united Scotland and England in the 17th century. In 1801 legislation united GB with Ireland to create the UK of GB and Ireland.