The British isles are separated from the European continent by the North Sea and the English Channel. The western coast of Great Britain is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. The surface of the British Isles varies very much. The north of Scotland is mountainous and is called Highlands, while the south, which has beautiful valleys and plains, is called Lowlands. The north and west of England are mountainous, but all the rest - east, center and southeast - is a vast plain. Mountains are not very high. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British Isles. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and above five thousand small islands. Their total area is over 244 000 square kilometers. The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast respectively.
There are a lot of rivers in GB, but they are not very long. The Severn is the longest river, while the Thames is the deepest and the most important one. The mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and the warm waters if Gulf Stream influence the climate of the British Isles. The weather in GB is very changeable. A fine morning can change into a wet afternoon and evening and the wrong side out. The English people say: "Other countries have a climate; in England we have weather." The English also say that they have three variants of weather: when it rains in the morning, when it rains in the afternoon or when it rains all day long.
The most unpleasant aspect of English weather is fog and smog. This is extremely bad in big cities especially in London. The fog spreads everywhere so cars move along slowly and people cant see each other. They try not to be run over by a car but still accidents are frequent in the fog.
British nation is considered to be the most conservative in Europe. It is not a secret that every nation and every country has its own customs and traditions. In Great Britain people attach greater importance to traditions and customs than in other European countries. Englishmen are proud of their traditions and carefully keep them up. The best examples are their queen, money system, their weights and measures.
British people think that the Grand National horse race is the most exciting horse race in the world. It takes place near Liverpool every year. Sometimes it happens the same day as the Boat Race takes place, sometimes a week later. Amateur riders as well as professional jockeys can participate. It is a very famous event.
Halloween is a day on which many children dress up in unusual costumes. In fact, this holiday has a Celtic origin. The day was originally called All Halloweens Eve, because it happens on October 31, the eve of all Saints Day. The name was later shortened to Halloween. The Celts celebrated the coming of New Year on that day.
On November 5,1605, a man called Guy Fawkes planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament where the king James 1st was to open Parliament on that day. But Guy Fawkes was unable to realize his plan and was caught and later, hanged. The British still remember that Guy Fawkes Night. It is another name for this holiday. This day one can see children with figures, made of sacks and straw and dressed in old clothes. On November 5th, children put their figures on the bonfire, burn them, and light their fireworks.
Monarchy is the oldest form of government in the United Kingdom. In a monarchy, a king or queen is Head of State. The British monarchy is known as a constitutional monarchy. This means that, while The Sovereign is Head of State, the ability to make and pass legislation resides with an elected Parliament. Although the British Sovereign no longer has a political or executive role, he or she continues to play an important part in the life of the nation. As Head of State, The Monarch undertakes constitutional and representational duties which have developed over one thousand years of history. In addition to these State duties, The Monarch has a less formal role as Head of Nation. The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognizes success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service. In all these roles The Sovereign is supported by members of their immediate family.
British Library - After fifteen years of problems and millions of public money spent, the library finally opened its doors to the public in the spring of 1998. The sheer number of books inside will take your breath away. This is actually the largest library in London. Location - Euston Road (near St Pancras Station).
- In the City of London you will come upon St Paul`s Cathedral. The present structure is the fifth cathedral to be built on the site. The weddings of the Prince and Princess of Wales, the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill and many other occasions have graced this spiritual centre. Built of Portland stone with a Dome that rises to 365 feet and with Great Paul, the largest bell in England, this has to be one of THE MUST SEE sights in London.
The most famous London sights, Westminster Abbey - it has been so closely connected with the Crown and the nations history. The coronation of every king and queen (apart from two) spanning 900 years has been held here. The magnificent Gothic building seen today dates from the 11th century.