Every student of the English language should be at least somewhat familiar with the country which gave the world the language that is rapidly becoming universal. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland covers an area of 244,755 square kilometers. It is important to remember that Great Britain includes England, Wales and Scotland. The United Kingdom includes England, Wales, Scotland and also Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom is half the size of France and has numerous islands, including the Isle of Wight, the Isles of Scilly, the Isle of Man, Anglesey, the Hebrides, the Orkneys, the Shetlands and the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, and others).
Britain is a beautiful Country with many places of interest, attractive countryside and a temperate, humid climate. Its winters are mild and summers are not very hot. It rains a lot and the grass is greener than in Central Europe. The average temperature ranges from 4 degrees Celsius in winter to 16 degrees in summer, extremes are rare.
With its mild climate and varied soils, Britain has a diverse pattern of natural vegetation. Woodlands occupy about 8 percent of the surface. Most of Britain is agricultural land of which over one-third is arable and the rest pasture and woodland. Almost the whole of lowland Britain has been cultivated.
British rivers are not very long, but deep. Some very important ports are situated on them:
London on the Thames River, Liverpool on the Mersey River; Glasgow on the Clyde River, and Belfast on the River Lagan. There is also a system of canals in Britain.
The western coast of Britain is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. On the eastern coast is the North Sea, and on the southern coast is the English Channel The popular Channel Tunnel joins England at Dover with France at Calais.
Britain is divided into counties: England has 46 counties, Wales has 8, and Northern Ireland has 6 counties. Scotland is divided into 12 regions and 53 districts.
Near to the United Kingdom is the Irish republic. Many years ago it was the first English colony. The Irish, like the Scots and the Welsh are of Celtic origin.
Great Britain has a population of about 57 million people. Britain is a relatively densely populated country with the highest density found in England and the lowest found in Scotland.
Although Britain in predominantly Christian, there also Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh communities in the country. The (Anglican) Church of England and the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland are the official State churches.
The Southwest of England
The southeastern tip of Britain has the country‘s warmest weather. It is also one of the wettest parts of the country. Seaside towns here often have palm trees growing on their seafronts.
The South of England
The south of England is known as the “prosperous south.“ The city of Brighton is the largest holiday resort on the south coast. It was once a small fishing village. Today Brighton is a major conference centre with a 126 acre artificial harbor and a large marina for boats.
In this region the famous and mysterious Stonehenge is also located. More than 3,500 years ago the huge stones were brought here from Wales - some 200 miles away. No one knows who built this famous landmark In 1984 Stonehenge was given World Heritage Site status by UNESCO.
Two of the largest cities here are Manchester and Liverpool.
Scotland is the land of many special traditions which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Here people still play bag-pipes, were quality tweeds, wear kilts and drink Scotch whisky.
The biggest city here is Glasgow. The city has some of the finest museums and galleries to be found in Europe.
Edinburgh has a magnificent l2th century castle - Holy Roodhouse.
In the north of Scotland is a large area famous for its lakes. Loch Ness is famous for its mysterious ‘monster.“
Canterbury has a famous cathedral which was begun in 1067, in Norman times. The countryside around Canterbury is some of the finest in England with many picturesque villages. Canterbury is the cradle of Christianity in England and remains England’s ecclesiastical capital.
Dover is the port-of-entry for people arriving on the ferry ship from France.
Stratford-upon-Avon wan the birth place of William Shakespeare.
London was founded by the Romans around AD 43. Credit for its foundation was given to the Roman General Aulus Plautius. He bridged the Thames, started the town, and in a few years it was a great trading centre. It continued to be an important town for the next 1000 years and, after the Norman Conquest, it became the capital of England. In 1066 William the Conqueror arrived in the town, fresh from his Victory at the Battle of Hastings. By now the city of Westminster was developing to the west of the City of London. Edward the Confessor has built his palace there and had established Westminster Abbey.
The Tower of London
For nearly a thousand years, history has been made there. William the Conqueror began the White Tower in 1078 and other buildings were built until the nineteenth century. The Tower has been put to many uses such as a royal residence, zoo, Royal Mint, and most recently as a museum that houses the national collection of armor and the Crown Jewels.
The home of the Monarch since Queen Victoria, the neo-classical facade only dates from 1913. Buckingham Palace has been the main home of the sovereign (monarchové) since Queen Victoria. It was originally built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham (hence its name).
It was later re-modeled by Nash for George IV, but did not finally get its present classical facade until 1913. The crowds gather for the daily changing of the guard at 11.30 a.m. in the summer. There is another guard change at Horse guards at 11 a.m.
No 10 has been the home of British Prime Ministers since 1732. George II offered the house to Sir Robert Walpole at that time. And it has remained „in the family“ since.
The square, Nelson‘s column stretching 185 feet into the sky, Land seer’s lions, feeding the pigeons, jumping in the fountains, are all part of the British way of life. Trafalgar Square, London‘s most famous, was laid out in 1829 to 1841 to commemorate Nelson‘s Victory at the Battle of the same name in 1805.
Five major roads converge here - most of the theatres are within a few hundred yards of it. At night the huge advertising hoardings are lit up - advertising English brands hike McDonald‘s, Samsung, Fosters and Coca-Cola. At the centre of the area is the statue of Eros which was unveiled in 1893. It was intended by the sculptor, Sir Albert Gilbert, to be the Angel of Christian Charity, but Eros has persisted as the name.
Hyde is a London Royal Park. It is a large area of open space in the city centre 630 acres and a perimeter of 4 miles. It has the memorials at Marble Arch at the east side and Kensington palace at the west. Also within its environs is the Albert Memorial, Queen Victoria‘s monument to her husband. The Serpentine Lake is popular for boating, sailing and even bathing. To the south of the Serpentine runs Rotten Row, the fashionable riding track through the park While up by Speaker‘s Corner at Marble Arch you can hear Briton‘s exercise their right speech.
Oxford Street runs from Marble Arch (Marks and Spencer) via Selfridges and John Lewis to Oxford Circus and another large branch of Marks and Spencer. The more popular stores are in
Oxford Street, in other words the more exclusive stores are elsewhere. Oxford Street today j perhaps the most popular of the shopping streets in the capital, as it contains most of the department stores catering for the middle of the market. On a wet day you can quickly scurry from store to store and while away many happy hours out of the ram.
Today Cambridge is inseparable from its university, whose superb buildings help to make
it one of the world‘s loveliest cities.. The oldest structure today is the S axon tower of St Bennett’s Church, built around 1020. Peter house, the first college, was founded in 1284. The tower of Great St Mary‘s Church yields fine views over the city, whose university area retains an air of seclusion despite new industries beyond. There are many museums to explore: this range from the University Museum of Archaeology to the Cambridge Art and Holographic
Centre on Magdalene Street.
Stonehenge is surely Britain‘s greatest national icon, symbolizing mystery, power and endurance. Its original purpose is unclear to us, hut some have speculated that it was a temple made for the worship of ancient earth deities. It has been called an astronomical observatory for marking significant events on the prehistoric calendar. Others claim that it was a sacred site for the burial of high-ranking citizens from the societies of long ago.