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История Britain
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English speaking countries

Great Britain, the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand are large English speaking countries. They are situated in various parts of the Globe and differ in many ways.

Each country has its own history, national holidays, traditions and customs. But they have a common language, English, the language of the people who left Britain to settle in new countries.

From the British Isles the English language spread all over the world, that's why we can say that the UK is the major English speaking country.

The official name of this country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the UK — for short). It is situated on the British Islands and comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Administratively the country is divided into 55 counties. The total territory is over 244 thousand sq. km, that is the 75-th place among all other countries in the world.

The population of Great Britain is over 60 million. The United Kingdom is one of the most densely populated countries on the Globe. The majority of the UK population (almost 92%) lives in cities and towns.

The country is washed by the North and Irish seas and by the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. The English Channel (La Mansh) separates the country from the European continent. North and West of the country are highlands, South and East — lowlands. The highest mountain of the country Ben Nevis is in Scotland.

Britain has several rivers, but they are not very long. The longest river is the Severn, but the deepest and the most important one is the Thames. The Clyde, the Avon, the Trent and the Cam are also among the country's longest rivers. There are also many beautiful lakes in the country.

The country climate is mild due to the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf Stream' warm waters and the mountains. The country weather often changes, being one the most favourite topics of conversation in Britain.

The UK is one of the most highly developed industrial powers in the world. It holds one of the leading places among the European states. The country isn't rich in mineral resources. That's why it has to import some goods, raw materials, gas and oil.

Great Britain is known now as one of the world's largest producers and exporters of electronics and machinery, chemicals and textile, various aircraft and navigation equipment. The main industrial branches comprise coal mining, metallurgical, automobile, aircraft, ship-building, textile, chemical and some others.

The sea is vital to the British trade. Fishing plays an important role. Agriculture is highly mechanized and is one of the most important sectors of the country national economy.

The capital of the country is London. It is the largest political, cultural and industrial center of the country, as well as one of the largest sea ports in the world. Among the largest cities of the UK there are also Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

Britain is a country with old cultural traditions and customs. The official languages of the state are English, Welsh, Scottish and Gaelic. The national symbol of the country is the Union Jack — the National Flag having 3 red and white crosses on the dark blue field. The weave of these crosses symbolizes the country power and might.

The United Kingdom is constitutional monarchy. Officially the head of the state is the Queen. Of course, she has certain political rights, but her power is not absolute, it is limited by the Parliament. In other words, the Queen reigns but doesn't rule.

The British Parliament is one of the oldest Parliaments in the world. It was founded in the XIII century and consists of 2 chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The House of Commons is the center of the parliamentary power. It comprises 651 elected MPs (members of Parliament) who represent local constituencies. The House of Lords is made up of 1, 185 hereditary and life peers and peeresses, as well as 2 archbishops and 24 most senior bishops of the established Church of England.

The British monarch appoints the leader of the party, having the majority in the House of Commons, as the country Prime Minister. The Prime Minister forms his / her Cabinet and is responsible for the policy conducted by the British Parliament.

There are several political parties in the country. The largest and most influencial of them are the Conservative (the Tory), the Liberal (the Whigs) and the Labour parties.

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