Unit 5: Contemporary Britain

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  • 1. Contemporary Britain Unit 5 from Let Us Explore the British Isles, pp. 46-57 Marcus Hildebrandt
  • 2. Contemporary Britain
    • Economy
    • Industry
    • Agriculture
    • Science and Technology
    • Transport
    • Environmental Issues
    • Tourism
  • 3. Economy 1
    • UK fifth largest economy in the world, second in Europe
    • Britain’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2007 £1,410 billion, with an increasing tendency
    • GDP per sector: agriculture (1%), industry (26%), services (73%)
    • Inflation: 4.4%; unemployment: 5.4%
    • UK living standards among the highest in Europe
  • 4. Economy 2
    • In 2003, 39 of the world’s 500 largest companies were based in the UK, 34 of which were UK-owned.
    • Top 5 companies in 2003: 1. BP Energy 2. Vodafone 3. GlaxoSmithKlein
    • 4. HSBC Holdings (banking) 5. Royal Bank of Scotland
  • 5. Industry
    • Great changes since WW II, with a shift from heavy industries to services
    • Today about 70% employed in services (tourism, insurance, banking [City of London: 555 banks and 300,000workers!])
    • Most British companies are small and make expensive products
  • 6. Agriculture
    • 80% of the land in England used in agriculture, but only 1-2% of the total workforce
    • large fields mainly in eastern and southern England (wheat, barley, oilseed rape, sugar beet, peas, beans)
    • Over 50% of farms rear lifestock (sheep!)
    • 60% of Britain’s demands in food produced in England
    • At the end of the 20th century big crises: cheap imports  22,000 farmers lost their jobs
    • BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) =“mad cow disease”  worldwide ban on British beef
    • 3% of land used for organic farming (Prince of Wales one of its promoters)
  • 7. Wheat, barley, oilseed rape, sugar beet
    • Wheat
    • Barley
    • Oilseed rape
    • Sugar beet
  • 8. Mad Cow Disease
  • 9. Science and Technology
    • 46 Nobel prizes! (biotechnology, biomedicine, chemicals, aerospace, etc.)
    • Pp. 48/49: important scientific developments and inventions over the last 25 years
    • Science festivals to promote science among the public (Edinburgh International Science Festival: 70,000 people)
    • Various museums around the country: 1. Natural History Museum in London (UK’s top visitor attraction) 2. The Deep in Hull (Europe’s deepest aquarium) 3. W5 Interactive Discovery Centre in Belfast 4. The Eden Project in Cornwall
  • 10. Transport 1
    • Survey by the Commission for Integrated Transport (November 2001): “British public transport the worst in Europe”
    • 46 minutes of commuting per day; traffic jams; high travel fares (less subsidised); high level of car use
  • 11. Transport 2
    • Inter-city public transport: buses, trains (privatised; many delays and cancellations due to serious accidents and subsequent engineering works)
    • Urban public transport: buses (famous red double-deckers are being replaced, taxis, the Tube (since the 1860s; 2 million people per day)
    • Park-and-Ride services
    • The Channel Tunnel (opened in 1994): Eurostar (London-Brussels-Paris) and Eurotunnel (Folkstone-Calais)
    • Airlines: Ryan Air, EasyJet; London Heathrow (64.6 million passengers in 2000)
    • Required age to drive a car: 17
  • 12. Environmental Issues 1
    • Nature Conservation
    • A wide range of projects to recover threatened species
    • Many protected areas (over 300 national nature reserves with over 200,000 hectares); around 6,700 Sites of Special Interest (SSSIs)
    • Britain once covered completely by forest, since prehistoric times large areas have been cleared
  • 13. Environmental Issues 2
    • B. Environmental problems
    • Government strategy: new homes on brownfield sites as opposed to greenfield sites
    • Many organisations committed to sustainable development:
    • National Trust (2.7 million members; responsible for ca. 200 buildings and gardens)
    • English Nature (government agency responsible for the SSSIs)
    • English Heritage (government organisation that protects many old, historic buildings; rescue archaeology)
  • 14. Environmental Issues 3
    • Other actions include: - cleaning up of contaminated land - noise and vibration control - wastewater treatment - marine pollution control - renewable energy sources (right now around 5%, by 2010 10%) - recycling waste (landfill sites, incinerators; only 8% recycled) at bottle banks, etc.
  • 15. Tourism 1
    • Thomas Cook (1808-92): founder of the first worldwide travel agency, inventor of the conducted tour
    • Over 2 million people employed in tourism
    • Over £ 50 million each year
    • Tourists come from: Western Europe (66%)
    • Most important airports: Heathrow , Gatwick, Manchester, Luton, Stansted
    • Ferries, hovercrafts ; Strait of Dover (busiest passenger port in Europe)
    • Good system of motorways and roads, extensive rail network
    • Where to stay? B&B (bed and breakfast) a cheap alternative; youth hostels, caravan parks
    • Sites: UNESCO World Heritage List (e.g., Tower of London ; Canterbury Cathedral , Hadrian’s Wall ; Bath ; Stonehenge )
  • 16. Tourism 2
    • Top sites in number of visitors: 1. Blackpool (Pleasure Beach Theme Park ) 2. British Museum 3. National Gallery 4. Palace Pier (Brighton)
    • 5. Madame Tussaud’s
    • Favourite cities: London, Oxford , Stratford-upon-Avon, Cambridge
    • BTA (British Tourist Authority)  Festival of Art in Culture in 1995 (the biggest international campaign to promote Britain’s culture); many publications
    • National Parks (12 in England and Wales)
    • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs): Isles of Scilly (smallest), Cotswolds (the largest)
    • Lake District National Park
  • 17. Thank you! For further information, see also: www.visitbritain.com