London is the capital of Great Britain. It is more than 20 centuries old. It is situated on the river Thames. London is one of the oldest and most interesting cities in the world.
Traditionally it is divided into several parts: the City, the West End and the East End. They are very different from each other. The heart of London is the City, its financial and business centre. Numerous banks, offices and firms are situated there, including the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange. There are some famous ancient buildings within the City. The most striking of them is St. Paul’s Cathedral, the greatest of English churches. The Tower of London was founded by Julius Caesar. It was used as a fortress, a royal palace and a prison.
The West End is the richest and most beautiful part of London. It is the symbol of wealth and luxury. The best hotels, shops, restaurants, clubs and theatres are situated there.
The East End is the part of London where poor people, workers and dockers live.
Whitehall is the political centre. The Houses of Parliament are situated there. There one can see a famous Clock Tower Big Ben, the symbol of London. There are many other places of interest in London: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the British Museum. Not far from the Houses of Parliament there is Westminster Abbey. It was founded in 1409. many great Englishmen such as Darwin, Dickens, Newton, Kipling are buried there.
GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION OF GREAT BRITAIN
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the official name of the British Kingdom, including England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is situated on the British Isles, which consist of more than 5,500 islands. The biggest island is Great Britain. It is washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the north-west, north and south-west and is separated from the European continent by the North Sea, the Straight of Dover and the English Channel. The country occupies the area of 242,500 square kilometers. England, which is the richest and the most populated part of the country, is a vast plain. Wales and Scotland are mountainous areas. The highest mountain in Wales is Snowdon, in Scotland – Ben Nevis. By the way, Scotland is a land of famous lakes. The beautiful Loch Lomond is the largest one.
The rivers are not long in Britain. The largest of them are the Severn, the Clyde and the Mersey. The Thames is the busiest and the most important river in Great Britain.
The population of Great Britain is 57 million people. The largest cities are London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
POLITICAL SYSTEM OF GREAT BRITAIN
Britain is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. The present Sovereign is Queen Elizabeth. In practice, the Sovereign reigns but doesn’t rule. The United Kingdom is governed by the Government – a body of Ministers, the Cabinet. It consists of the leading members of the political party in power. They are responsible to Parliament. The main political parties are the Conservatives, the Labour party and the Liberal-Social Democratic party. The Prime Minister, who heads the Government, is usually the leader of the party which has the majority in the House of Commons. A general election for all seats in the House of Commons must be held at least every five years. The second largest party becomes the Official Opposition with its own leader and Shadow Cabinet. The House of Commons and the House of Lords with the Monarch comprise the Parliament. Once Parliament approves legislation it receives the Royal Assent and becomes law.
In Great Britain there is no written constitution, only customs, traditions and precedents.