Why British not English?Many foreigners say ‘England’ and ‘English’ when they mean ‘Britain’, or the ‘UK’, and ‘British’. This is very annoying for the 5 million people who live in Scotland, the 2.8 million in Wales and 2 million in Northern Ireland who are certainly not English. (51 million people live in England.) However, the people from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England are all British. So what is the difference between the names ‘Great Britain’ and ‘the United Kingdom’ – and what about ‘the British Isles’?
The United KingdomThis is an abbreviation of ‘the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. It is often further abbreviated to ‘UK’, and is the political name of the country which is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (sometimes known as Ulster). Several islands off the British coast are also part of the United Kingdom (for example, the Isle of Wight, the Orkneys, Hebrides and Shetlands, and the Isles of Scilly), although the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not. However, all these islands do recognize the Queen.
This is the name of the island which is made up of England, Scotland and Wales and so, strictly speaking, it does not include Northern Ireland. The origin of the word 'Great' is a reference to size, because in many European languages the words for Britain and Brittany in France are the same. In fact, it was the French who first talked about Grande Bretagne. In everyday speech ‘Britain’ is used to mean the United Kingdom.
The British Isles
This is the geographical name that refers to all the islands off the north western coast of the European continent: Great Britain, the whole of Ireland (Northern and Southern), the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
How was the United Kingdom formed? This took centuries, and a lot of armed struggle was involved. In the 15th century, a Welsh prince, Henry Tudor, became King Henry VII of England. Then his son, King Henry VIII, united England and Wales under one Parliament in 1536. In Scotland a similar thing happened. The King of Scotland inherited the crown of England and Wales in 1603, so he became King James I of England and Wales, and King James VI of Scotland. The Parliaments of England, Wales and Scotland were united a century later in 1707.
The Scottish and Welsh are proud and independent people. In recent years there have been attempts at devolution in the two countries, particularly in Scotland where the Scottish Nationalist Party was very strong for a while. But it seems that most Welsh and Scottish people are happy to form part of the UK even though they sometimes complain that they are dominated by England, and particularly by London.
The whole of Ireland was united with Great Britain from 1801 up until 1922. In that year the independent Republic of Ireland was formed in the South, while Northern Ireland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Task 1. Answer the questions.
1. What is Great Britain made of?
2. What is the origin of the country’s name?
3. Where are the British Isles situated?
4. Does South Ireland belong to Great Britain?
5. How long did it take to form the United Kingdom?
6. When was the independent Republic of Ireland formed?
London was not built as a city in the same way as Paris or New York. It began life as a Roman fortification at a place where it was possible to cross the River Thames. A wall was built around the town for defence, but during the long period of peace which followed the Norman Conquest, people built outside the walls. This building continued over the years, especially to the west of the city. In 1665 there was a terrible plague in London, so many people left the city and escaped to the villages in the surrounding countryside.
In 1666 the Great Fire of London ended the plague, but it also destroyed much of the city. Although people returned to live in the rebuilt city after the plague and the Great Fire, there were never again so many Londoners living in the city centre.
These days not many people live in the city centre, but London has spread further outwards into the country, including surrounding villages. Today the metropolis of Greater London covers some 610 square miles (1580 sq. km.) and the suburbs of London continue even beyond this area. Some people even commute over 100 miles (over 150 km.) every day to work in London, while living far away from the city in the country or in other towns.
The gradual growth of the city helps to explain the fact that London does not have just one centre, it has a number of centres, each with a distinct character: the financial and business centre called the City (spelt with a capital ‘C’), the shopping and entertainment centre in the West End, the government centre in Westminster. Places like Highgate and Hampstead have kept their village-like character - they have their own newspapers and the famous Hampstead Heath is a reminder of country origins.
Task 2.Answer the questions.
1. Why was a wall built around London?
2. What destroyed London in the 17th century?
3. Do many people live in the city centre?
4. What parts does Greater London consist of?
Task 3.Match left and right.
1. Where is the Tower of London?
2. What are ravens?
3. How old is the Tower of London?
4. Why is the Tower of London so famous?
5. What are beef-eaters?
6. What are the Crowns Jewels?
7. How many jewels are there on Queen’s Crown?
8. Does the Queen live in the Tower of London?
a) There are 2,868 jewels on the crown.
b) They are special guards. There are 40 Beefeaters in the Tower. They live in the Tower. They wear blue and red clothes every day but on special days they wear red and gold clothes.
c) Ravens are big black birds. They eat meat. Every day they eat 150 grams of meat, eggs, and biscuits with blood. There are six ravens at the Tower. The Beefeaters give meat to the ravens every day.
d) No, she lives in Buckingham Palace.
e) It’s 900 years old. It’s very strong. The walls are 4 metres thick! It’s called ‘The Tower of London’ but there are 21 towers.
f) The Tower of London is on the River Thames, near Tower Bridge.
g) It’s got Beefeaters, ravens, the Crown Jewels and ghosts.
h) They are the Queen’s special jewels. She wears them once a year.
Task 4.Read the text and tell your friends about everything they need to know about Scotland.
The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh. It’s a historic city with a castle. There’s a popular cultural festival in Edinburgh every summer.
Thousands of people travel to Loch Ness every year. It’s a big lake and people believe that a monster lives in the loch (Scottish word for ‘lake’)
Scots often wear kilts. A kilt is a woolen skirt with a checked pattern called ‘tartan’. Men and women wear kilts. Each clan (Scottish word for ‘a family or tribe’) has its own special tartan. Men wear a leather money bag called ‘a sporran’ with the kilt.
Robert Burns was a famous Scottish poet born on the 25th of January 1759. Every year on Burns’ birthday people have parties, eat haggis, drink whisky, dance to bagpipe music and read his poems.
The bagpipes are the traditional musical instrument of Scotland.
On special occasions Scottish people eat haggis. It’s lamb, heart, liver and animal fat boiled inside a sheep’s stomach.
Hogmanay is the name for the Scottish celebration of New Year’s Eve. People go ‘first footing’ - they visit a neighbour’s house after midnight and give the neighbour a piece of coal, some bread, some salt, and a coin for good luck.
Task 4. How well do you know the United States of America?
1. What is the population of the United States?
a) 100 million people
b) 250 million people
2. Where is the United States?
a) Northern hemisphere
b) Southern hemisphere
c) Eastern hemisphere
d) Just east of Hawaii
3. The United States is a ______________ .
d) big island
4. Name two countries that border on the United States.
a) Canada and New Mexico
b) Cuba and Puerto Rica
c) Mexico and Canada
d) Mexico and Yukon
5. The United States was founded in ____________ .
6. On which continent is the United States?
a) South America
b) Paelantic Plate
c) North America
7. Which ocean is on the west coast of the United States?
a) The Atlantic Ocean
b) The Pacific Ocean
c) The Gulf Ocean
d) The Indian Ocean
8. How many states are there in the United States?
9. Where does the President of the United States live and work?