The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Great Britain is the name of the largest island of the British Isles. It is historically divided into three parts which were once independent states: England, Scotland and Wales. The people who live in England are English, the people who live in Scotland are Scots, the people who live in Wales are Welsh. At the same time all these people are British because they live in Britain. As to the word Great in the name of the island, it was first introduced by the French to distinguish the island from the area in the north of France called Britanny (the French language has the same word for Britain and Britanny).
The United Kingdom (or UK) is an abbreviation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is the political name of the country consisting of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (sometimes called Ulster). Southern Ireland is a completely independent state: the Republic of Ireland (also called Eire).
It took centuries and a lot of armed struggle to form the United Kingdom. In the 15th century a Welsh prince Henry Tudor, became King Henry VII of England. Then his son, 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 and Wales were united a century later, in 1707.
The whole of Ireland was united with Great Britain from 1801 till 1921. In 1921 it was divided into two parts. The larger southern part formed the independent Republic of Ireland (Eire), while Northern Ireland (Ulster) became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The United Kingdom is situated on the British Isles. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and a great number of small islands. Great Britain includes more than 5000 islands. The total area of the UK is over 244 000 sq. km
There are no high mountains in Great Britain. In the north the Cheviots separate England from Scotland, the Pennines stretch down North England along its middle, the Cambrian mountains occupy the greater part of Wales and the Highlands of Scotland are the highest of the British mountains. There is very little flat country except in the region known as East Anglia.
Most of the rivers flow into the North Sea. The Thames is the deepest and the longest of the British rivers. Some of the British greatest ports are situated in the estuaries of the Thames, Mersey, Trent, Tyne, Clyde and Bristol Avon.
Great Britain is not very rich in mineral resources, it has some deposits of coal and iron ore and vast deposits of oil and gas that were discovered in the North Sea.
The warm currents of the Atlantic Ocean influence the climate of Great Britain. Winters are not severely cold and summers are rarely hot.
The population of the United Kingdom is over 56 million people. The main nationalities are English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish. In Great Britain there are a lot of immigrants from former British Asian and African colonies.
Great Britain is a highly industrialized country. New industries have been developed in the last three decades. The main industrial centers are London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds. Liverpool, Glasgow and Bristol. The capital of the country is London
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy. The head of the country is the Queen. The head of the government is the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister appoints the ministers to make up the government.
The highest legislative body of the country is the Parliament. The Parliament of Great Britain consists of two Houses - the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The House of Lords consists of 1000 peers (bishops of the Church of England, aristocrats, who have inherited their seats from their fathers, people with titles), who are not elected by the people. The House of Commons is elected by the people at a general election on a 5 year term.
There are two main political parties in Great Britain: the Conservative party and the Labour party. The Conservative party came into begin in the 19th century as a result of the evolution of the Tory party. The Labour party was founded in 1900. Since 1906 it has borne the name of the Labour party. The Labour party won the election for the first time in 1945.
The United States of America
The USA is the most powerful and highly developed country of the world. It is situated in the central part of the North American continent. Its western coast is washed by the Pacific Ocean and its eastern coast is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and The Gulf of Mexico.
The total area of the USA is over 9 million square kilometers. The principal rivers of the USA are the Mississippi, the longest river in the USA (7,330 km) and the Hudson river.
The climate of the USA differs greatly from one part of the country to another. The coldest climate is in the northern part, where there is heavy snow in winter and the temperature may go down to 40 degrees below zero. The south has a subtropical climate, with temperature as high as 49 degrees in summer.
The population of the United States of America is about 250 million people, who are called Americans. Most of the people live in towns and the population of the countryside is becoming smaller and smaller.
The capital of the USA is Washington. It is situated in the District of Columbia. Washington is a beautiful administrative city with practically no industry.
The USA is a highly developed industrial state. Its agriculture is also highly mechanized. The USA has a highly developed railway system. It also has the best network of roads in the world. They are called highways.
The USA is a federal country of 50 states and the District of Columbia. The political life of the country has always been dominated by the two major parties: the Democratic party and the Republican party. At an election time they contest presidency and the majority of seats in the Congress. The Congress is the highest legislative body of the country. It consists of two chambers – the House of Representatives and the Senate. The President, elected by the whole nation for four years, is head of the state and the Government.
I live in a new nine-storied block of flats in Pushkin street. It is a tall, well-built house. There is a big grocery, a hair-dresser’s and a laundry on the ground floor. Our flat is on the third floor, so I never use a lift. There are three rooms in our flat: a living-room, a bedroom and a study. We also have a kitchen, a bath-room, an entrance hall and a balcony. The first place you get to when you enter our flat is the entrance hall. It is rather large. There is a hall-stand, where we hang our hats and coats when we take them off. We have also a large mirror with a little table under it there. There is a beautiful carpet on the floor. Our living-room is nice-furnished. The windows face south-west, so the room is very light. The floor of our living-room is yellow, the ceiling and the walls are white. The curtains on the windows are light-brown. There is a cozy green sofa in our living-room. It is at the wall to the left of the door. The sofa with cushions looks very comfortable. There are two arm-chairs in front of the TV-set. We like to rest there after a hard day’s work and enjoy a TV program. On the wall you can see some beautiful pictures.
Our bed-room is rather large. It is papered pale pink and there are cream colored jalousie on the large window. There is a double-bed and a chest-of-drawers where we keep our sheets, blankets, pillow-cases and bedspreads. Two bedside tables and a bureau are in the bed-room too. Next to the chest-of-drawers there is a large built-in wardrobe for clothes and linen. Our study is small. There are bookshelves full of different books. A little desk is in front of the window. There is a computer on it.
The kitchen is rather large. There is a kitchen unit in it. Here we keep saucepans, frying pans, plates, cups, saucers and teapots. In the draws at the bottom of our kitchen-unit there are knives, forks and spoons. There is also a fine electric cooker, a refrigerator, a table with stools in the kitchen too. We have also a food processor, an oven, a toaster, a dishwasher.
Our bath-room is not large. There is a toilet, a washing-machine, a bath, a wash-basin, a towel-rail with towels and a laundry-basket. In the bathroom cabinet we keep toilet-rolls, tooth-brushes, sponges, soap, shampoo, a hair dryer, and air-freshener. I like my flat very much and I like to receive our guests here.