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I. THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND

I. READING & DISCUSSION

Go through the main reading and think of the heading for each paragraph. Then give a brief summary of the main reading according to your notes.

 

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British Isles which contain more than 5,000 small islands. It consists of four parts: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh, the capital of Wales is Cardiff, the capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast, and the capital of England and the whole of the UK is London. England, Wales and Scotland occupy the territory of Great Britain. Northern Ireland is situated in the northern part of Ireland.

The territory of the United Kingdom is about 244,8 square kilometres. The population is more than 60 million. The total population of England is about 50 million, Scotland is estimated at more than 5 million, Wales - about 3 million, Northern Ireland - more than 1.7 million. About 80% of the popu­lation is urban.

Great Britain is surrounded by seas on all sides (the North Sea, the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean). It is separated from the continent by the Eng­lish Channel which is 34 km wide in its narrowest point.

The surface of Great Britain varies greatly. The northern and western parts of the country are mountainous and called the Highlands. All the rest (south, east and centre) is a vast plain which is called the Lowlands. The mountains are not very high. The highest mountain peaks are Ben Nevis in Scotland and Snowdon in Wales. The rivers are not long. The most important of them are the Thames, the Mersey, the Severn, the Clyde, the Trent. There are many beautiful lakes in the mountainous parts of the country.

The mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and the warm waters of the Gulf Stream influence the climate of Great Britain. It is mild the whole year round. The weather in Britain is very changeable and people like to say that they have no climate but only weather.

Great Britain is a highly developed industrial country. It is famous first of all for its heavy and textile industries. Britain is one of the world's largest producers and exporters of iron and steel products, machinery and electron­ics, chemicals and textile, aircraft and navigation equipment. One of the chief industries of the country is shipbuilding. 7 % of the population is en­gaged in farming. The biggest industrial cities are London (port), Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester.

Great Britain is a country of old cultural traditions and customs. It has the world known educational centres such as Oxford and Cambridge univer­sities. They are considered to be the intellectual centres of Europe. The edu­cation is not free, it is very expensive.

The United Kingdom is a parliamentary monarchy and the Queen is the head of the state (since 1952 - Elizabeth II). She summons, prorogues and dissolves Parliament. She normally opens the sessions of Parliament with the speech from the throne. But in practice Britain is ruled by the elected government with a Prime Minister at the head. He has a great deal of power in contrast to that of Monarch. Number 10, Downing Street is the official residence of the British Prime Minister.



The legislative branch of power is the British Parliament which consists of two chambers: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The Parlia­ment sits in the House of Parliament in Westminster. It makes new laws, gives authority for the government to spend state money, keeps a close eye on government activities.

There are three main political parties in Great Britain: the Labour, the Conservative and the Liberal parties. The Labour party with Gordan Brown at the head is the ruling party nowadays. There's no written constitution in Great Britain, they act only on precedents and traditions.

A founding member of NATO, and the Commonwealth, the UK pursues a global approach to foreign policy; it is weighing the degree of its integra­tion with continental Europe. A member of the EU, it chose to remain out­side the European Monetary Union for the time being. Constitutional reform is also a significant issue in the UK. The Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly were established in 1999.

Follow-up Assignments

1. Review the statements and mark them true (T) or false (F).

1. Great Britain lies about the same distance from the equator as the Crimea.

2. The climate of the country is much milder than that of Belarus.

3. The English Channel separates England from France. On a clear day the French coast can be easily seen from the Dover.

4. The waters of the English Channel are very shallow, and there are many fishing villages along the coast.

5. The highest body of state power in the United Kingdom is the Congress which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

6. Wales is one of the big mining districts in Great Britain. In the towns and villages of Wales you can see thousands of miners.

7. Great Britain is proud of being a member of the European Union and the European Monetary Union.

 

2. Discuss the following questions with your partner.


1. What is the official name of Great Britain?

2. Where is the UK situated?

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the geographical posi­tion of Great Britain?

4. What parts does the UK consist of?

5. Why do people often confuse the names England and Great Britain?

6. How do England, Scotland and Wales compare in size and popula­tion?

7. Do the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish try to keep their languages?

8. Which part of Britain would you like to go on holiday and why?

9. What city is the capital of the UK?

10. What is the surface of the country?

11. Are there any big rivers and lakes?

12. Why is the climate of the British Isles milder than that of the Conti­nent?

13. What industrial cities are there in Great Britain?

14. What goods does the British industry produce?

15. What are the biggest educational establishments in Great Britain?

16. Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy, isn't it? What is the Queen's name?

17. In what way is her power limited?

18. How many chambers does the British Parliament consist of? What are their functions?

19. What are the main political parties of Great Britain?

20. What party is in power in the UK at the moment? Who is its leader? What is his/her official rank?

21. What policy does the country persue?

 

II. CULTURE CONNECTIONS


1. Fill in the table and compare the geographical position, population and climate of the Republic of Belarus with that of the UK. What is unique in Great Britain that can't be found in Belarus?

  the United Kingdom the Republic of Belarus
Geographical position an island country a land-locked country
Landscape: mountain, plains, rivers, forests    
Population    
Climate    
Political set up    

 

2. Read the texts to raise your cultural awareness of Great Britain.

1. What is the Mixture We Call British?

The English are the mixed people what is determined historically. Foreigners usually call the British people "English", but the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh do not consider themselves to be English. The English are Anglo- Saxon in the origin, but the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish are not. They are Celts; descendants of the ancient people who crossed over from Europe to the British Isles centuries before the Roman invasion. It was these people whom the Germanic Angles and Saxons conquered in the 5th and 6th centuries A. D.

These Germanic conquerors gave England its name - "Angle" land. They were conquered in turn by the Norman French, when William of Normandy landed near Hastings in 1066. It was from the union of the Norman conquerors and the defeated Anglo-Saxons that the English people and the English language were born. The Danes, the Vikings, who invaded Britain in the 8th century also made influence on the people and the language.

Foreigners have been settling in Britain since the beginning of the century. Black and Asian people are now a familiar sight in every city. Great Britain has a multi-racial society. Racial as well as class distinctions are still important in the society.

2. What does the Union Flag stand for?

The flag of Britain, commonly known as the Union Jack (which derives from the use of the Union Flag on the jack-staff of naval vessels), embodies the emblems of three countries under one Sovereign. The emblems that ap­pear on the Union Flag are the crosses of three patron saints:

1. the red cross of St. George, for England, on a white ground;

2. the white diagonal cross, or saltire, of St. Andrew, for Scotland, on a blue ground;

3. the red diagonal cross of St. Patrick, for Ireland, on a white ground.

Wales is not represented in the Union Flag because, when the first ver­sion of the flag appeared, Wales was already united with England. The na­tional flag of Wales, a red dragon on a field of white and green, dates from the 15th century and is widely used throughout the Principality.

3. Does Britain Have a National Day?

National Days in Britain are not celebrated to the same extent as Na­tional Days in countries like France or America.

Scotland's National Day is St. Andrew's Day (30 November). St. An­drew, one of the Christ's twelve apostles, is the patron saint of Scotland.

England's national Day is St. George's Day (23 April). St. George is the patron saint of England.

St. Patrick's Day (17th March) is an official Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland. The work of St. Patrick was a vital factor in the spread of Christian­ity in Ireland.

Other British traditional and religious holidays are Christmas Day (25 December), Boxing Day (26 December), New Year's Day (1 January), Pan­cake Day (41 day before Easter), Easter (on a Sunday between 22 of March and 25 of April), May Day (not necessarily 1 May), etc.

 

4. What Are Britain's National Flowers?

The national flower of England is the rose. The flower has been adopted as England's emblem since the time of the Wars of the Roses - civil wars (1455-1485) between the royal house of Lancaster (whose emblem was a red rose) and the royal house of York (whose emblem was a white rose). The Yorkist regime ended with the defeat of King Richard III by the future Hen­ry VII at Bosworth on 22 August 1485, and the two roses were united into the Tudor rose (a red rose with a white centre) by Henry VII when he married Elizabeth of York.

The national flower of Northern Ireland is the shamrock, a three-leaved plant similar to clover which is said to have been used by St. Patrick to illus­trate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

The Scottish national flower is the thistle, a prickly-leaved purple flow­er which was first used in the 15th century as a symbol of defence.

The three flowers - rose, thistle and shamrock - are often displayed be­neath the shield on the Royal Coat of Arms.

The national flower of Wales is usually considered to be the daffodil, which is traditionally worn on St. David's Day. However, the humble leek is also considered to be a traditional emblem of Wales, possibly because its col­ours, white over green, echo the ancient Welsh standard.

 

5. What Is the Most Popular Food in Britain?

Britain's most popular "fast food" has got to be fish and chips. Fish and chip shops first made an appearance at the end of the 19th century and since then have been a firm favourite up and down the country. The dish is sim­plicity itself: fish (usually cod, haddock or plaice) is dipped in a batter made from flour, eggs and water and then deep fried in hot fat. Chips are made from thick batons of potato and deep fried.

Fish and chips are served over the counter wrapped in paper, and tradi­tionalists prefer to eat them straight out of the paper because they taste bet­ter that way!

The best-known British dish eaten at home has been roast beef, tradi­tionally eaten on Sunday. Roast beef is served with roast potatoes, vegeta­bles and gravy - a sauce made from meat juices and stock, thickened with flour. Yorkshire pudding - batter baked in hot fat in the oven - is a favourite accompaniment to roast beef.

 

6. Do the British Like Drinking Tea?

Everything in Britain, says a popular song, "stops for tea". It's certain­ly true that tea is the most popular drink in Britain - far more popular than coffee, which is favoured throughout Europe and America. The Dutch brought the first tea to Europe in about 1610, but it was not until 1658 that the first advertisement for tea appeared in a London newspaper.

Gradually, tea-drinking developed into a fashionable social ritual and tea gardens blossomed in places like Vauxhall and Marylebone in London. Tea parties were also popular at home, and soon the ritual of 'afternoon tea' was firmly established. Today, throughout the homes, tea-shops and hotels of Britain, the custom of teatime continues, and it remains a feature of any cricket match or summer fete. High Tea is a more substantial evening meal, popular in northern England and Scotland.

Tea in Britain is traditionally brewed in a china teapot, adding one spoonful of tea per person and one for the pot. Great importance is attached to the use of freshly boiled water, which is poured onto the leaves and then the tea is left to 'brew' for a few minutes. Most people in Britain prefer a rich, strong cup of tea with milk, and sugar is sometimes added to taste.

 

7. Why Do the British Like Going to the Pub?

One of the main attractions of the pub for all regular pubgoers is that it offers good company in friendly surroundings. Where else can you appear as a complete stranger and at once be able to join in a conversation with a di­verse group of people? Often the style of the pub and its locality will dictate the kind of clientele you can expect to find there. Village pubs with their country furnishings attract not only local folk but city dwellers out for a drive, hikers fresh from a long day's walk and pensioners enjoying a pub lunch. City pubs tend to have a more mixed clientele - businessmen and women discussing the latest deal, theatregoers or groups of friends enjoying a drink together before going off to a restaurant or nightclub.

Good conversation and good beer are two essential items provided by the pub. The drinking of beer in a public house is not compulsory, but as any pub­lican will tell you, beer remains the perfect drink for the pub — it comes in large measures (one pint glasses) so that just one drink provides plenty of conversation time! Many pubs also serve food, from snacks to full meals.

Other attractions offered by city and country pubs alike include a game of darts (short, weighted steel darts are thrown at a circular dartboard num­bered in sections) and snooker, a game similar to billiards.

Each pub has its own name which can refer to historical events, land­marks, animals, many with their origins in heraldry - The White Hart, the Nag's Head, the Black Bull, and the Bear to name but a few!

 


Date: 2015-04-20; view: 1759


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