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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland • Britain – or Great Britain (GB) – is the name for England, Wales and Scotland. • The British Isles is the name for England, Scotland, Wales, both parts of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. • The United Kingdom (UK) is England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Geographical location • The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and about 5 000 small islands. Their total area is over 244 000 square kilometers. • The British Isles are separated from the Continent by the North Sea, the English Channel and the Strait of Dover. The western coast of GB is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea.
“ Union Jack “ ” • Britain’s flag is called the “Union Jack”. It is really three flags on top of each other – the red cross on white background of St George for England, the white “X” on blue background of St Andrew for Scotland, and the red “X” on white background of St Patrick for Ireland.
• Of course, each country in Britain has its own flag.• It’s worth remembering that the Union Jack is more popular in England than in other parts. The reason is that the Welsh, Scottish and Irish do not like being reminded of the time when they lost their independence.
By the way the British like to have fun with their flag…
THEWEATHERThis is the most important topic inthe land. On the Continent, peopleusually say, ‘He is the type whowould discuss the weather with’, todescribe someone who is veryboring. In England, this is an ever-interesting. Ever thrilling topic, andyou must be good at discussing theweather.39 percent think the weather is themost annoying aspect of living inBritain.In Britain, it is considered rude toask personal questions. At thesame time silence is also rude. Sothe weather is a very convenienttopic ‘to fill the gap’.
UNDERGROUND It is usually referred to officially as the Underground and colloquially as the Tube, although the latter term originally applied only to the deep-level bored lines, along which run slightly lower, narrower trains along standard-gauge track, to distinguishthem from the sub-surface "cut and cover" lines that were built first. More recently this distinction has been lost and the whole system is now referred to as The Tube, even in recent years by its operator in official publicity. London Underground was formed in 1985, but its history dates back to 1863 when the worlds first underground railway opened. Today, London Underground is a major business with three million passenger journeys made every day, serving 275 stations and over 408 km of railway.
London is the capital of UK • London is a political, economic and cultural capital of the UK. • Once London was a small Roman town on the bank of the Thames. Slowly it grew into one of the world’s major cities. • London with suburbs has a population of about 11 million people.
Different areas of London seem like differentcities.The West End is a rich man’s world of shops,offices and theatres.The City of London is the district where mostoffices and banks are concentrated. The RoyalExchange and the Bank of England are here, too.The East End is the district where mostly workingpeople live.
Northern Ireland is composed of 26 districts, derived from the boroughs of Belfast and Londonderry and the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, and Tyrone. Together they are commonly called Ulster, though the territory does not include the entire ancient province of Ulster.• Northern Ireland is bounded on the north and northeast by the North Channel, on the southeast by the Irish Sea, and on the south and west by the Republic of Ireland. It includes Rathlin Island in the North Channel and several smaller offshore islands. Northern Ireland is also known as Ulster, because it comprises six of the nine counties that constituted the former province of Ulster. The total area of Northern Ireland is 14,148 sq km (5463 sq mi).
Land and Resources • The country consists mainly of a low, flat plain in the approximate center of which is Lough Neagh (about 390 sq km/about 150 sq mi), the largest lake in the British Isles. Other important lakes are Lough Erne and Upper Lough Erne. Apart from several isolated elevations, three major areas of considerable height are the Sperrin Mountains in the northwest, the Antrim Plateau along the northeastern coast, and the Mourne Mountains in the southeast. The highest point in the country is Slieve Donard (852 m/2796 ft), a peak in the Mourne Mountains. • The former rises in the Mourne Mountains and empties into Lough Neagh
• The most valuable natural resources of Northern Ireland are its fertile soil and rich pasturelands. Natural waterpower is abundant. The chief minerals are basalt, limestone, sand and gravel, granite, chalk, clay, and shale; bauxite, iron ore, and coal also are found in small amounts. Peat is important as a fuel.
Plants and Animals • The emblem of the Northern Ireland is shamrock. • The only distinctive plant is a species of wild orchid, Spiranthes stricta, found in the valleys of the Upper and Lower Bann rivers. Distinctive species of animal life include the pollan, a freshwater variety of whitefish found in Lough Neagh and Lough Erne.