Great Britain has several names: Britain, the United Kingdom or just the UK.
The United Kingdom is situated on the British Isles. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland. The country is washed by the Atlantic ocean, the North Sea and the Irish Sea. The English Channel and the Strait of Dover separate Britain from the continent.
Great Britain, the largest island in Europe, contains England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Every country has its own national emblem. The red rose is the national emblem of England, the thistle is the emblem of Scotland, the daffodil and the leek are the emblems of Wales and the shamrock is the emblem of Ireland. All these parts of the country are represented in the Parliament in London. England is noted for its “high‑tech” and car industries. Scotland is a land of mountains, lakes and romantic castles. Wales is famous for its high mountains and pretty valleys, factories and coal mines, music and myths. Northern Ireland, with farming land, is attractive too. The UK has an area of 94 249 sq. miles. The capital of the country is London. English is an official language. The population of the UK is nearly 60 mln. people. The English, Scots, Irish and Welsh constitute the population of Great Britain.
The climate of Great Britain is mild. The weather is changeable. It is not too hot in summer or too cold in winter. It often rains in England. Snow falls only in the North and West of the country. The surface of England and Northern Ireland is flat, but Scotland and Wales are mountainous. Many parts of the country have beautiful villages. There are many rivers in GB. The main are the Thames and the Severn. The Severn is the longest river. The Thames is the most important one.
The flag of Great Britain is blue, red and white. Its nickname is the Union Jack. It is made up of three crosses: the cross of St. George (the patron saint of England), the cross of St. Andrew (the patron saint of Scotland) and the cross of St. Patrick (the cross of Ireland). The national anthem is “God save the Queen”. The national currency is a pound
The history of the UK dates back to the ancient times. From the 6th to the 3rd centuries BC, the British Isles were invaded by Celtic tribes. In 43 AD, the Romans invaded southern Britain. It became a Roman colony called Britannia. The Romans set up their capital in London. The Saxons, the Danes and the Normans settled here in turn. In 1066 William the Ist , known as William the Conqueror, established a strong, centralised country under military rule. Since 1066 England has never been invaded.
Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy. The Queen is the head of the state, but her power is limited by the Parliament. The branches of the government are: the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. The legislative is the supreme authority. It comprises two chambers-the House of Lords and the House of Commons- together with the Queen in her constitutional role. The house of Lords doesn’t have much power but it’s very important as it can offer and change laws, it can delay laws too. The House of Commons makes laws about the policy of the country, taxes and many other things. The members of the House of Lords are not elected. They are permanent. They are often aristocrats, people of the church, lawyers and former politicians. The members of the House of Commons are elected. The British people elect 650 members of the House of Commons. The executive consists of the central Government- that is the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, and other ministers. The judiciary determines common law and interprets status and is independent of both the legislature and the executive. In Great Britain there are two major parties: the Conservative party and the Labour party. The Labour party is in power now. Tony Blair is the Prime Minister. In Great Britain there is no written constitution, only customs, traditions.
Great Britain is a highly industrial country. The UK has some mineral resources. Coal and oil are the most important of them. Great Britain produces and exports textile, electronics, aircraft, and navigation equipment machinery. Birmingham is the centre of the British heavy industry. One of the chief industries of the country is shipbuilding. It is centred in London, Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool. At the same time GB imports some food products and raw materials from many countries of the world.
In Great Britain education is compulsory and free. General education may lead to technical or commercial study or to higher education. Internationally prominent universities include those of Oxford, which was founded in the 12th century, and Cambridge, which was founded in the 13th century.