Great Britain: geographical position, political system
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the UK) occupies most of the territory of the British Isles. It consists of four main parts: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. London is the capital of Great Britain. The UK is a small country with an area of some 244,100 square kilometers it occupies only 0,2 per cent of the world’s land surface. It is washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the north – west, north and south – west and separated from Europe by the North Sea and by the English Channel. The country has many bays favourable for shipping. In their shelter are Britain’s main ports, such as London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Hull and others. The highest mountain is Ben Nevis in Scotland, 4,406 feet high. The longest river is Severn, in England, about 200 miles long.
The population of the United Kingdom is over 57 million people. Foreigners often call British people “English”, but the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh do not consider themselves to be English. The official language of the United Kingdom is English. But in western Scotland some people still speak Gaelic and in northern and central parts of Wales people often speak Welsh.
The UK is a parliamentary monarchy. In law, Head of the State is Queen. In practice, the country is ruled by the elected government with the Prime Minister at the head. The British parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. There are three main political parties in the UK: the Labour, The Conservative and the Liberal parties.
The Flag of the United Kingdom, known as the Union Jack, is made up of three crosses. The big red cross is the cross of Saint George, the patron of England. The white cross is the cross of Saint Andrew, the patron of Scotland. The red diagonal cross is the cross of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
The Economy of Great Britain
To give full particulars of Britain’s economy one must analyse some facts and figures characterizing the economic situation of Britain.
The Second World War left Great Britain economically exhausted. The post war Labour government tried to deal with the financial crisis but had to accept great sums of US aid. The United Kingdom was faced with serious problems of inflation and balance of nationalization started. All these measures failed.
Under the successive Conservative governments (since 1951) the major industries were denationalized, rationing was gradually ended, and there was a rapid growth of prosperity. When Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister the United Kingdom, in close cooperation with the United States of America, emerged as a powerful industrial country.
Now the United Kingdom is highly developed industrial country. It is known as one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of machinery, electronics, textile, aircraft and navigation equipment
The main principles of the British economy
· Livestock: sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry
· Principal crops: cereals, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, sugar beet
· Principal resources: coal, iron ore, china clay
· Manufactures and industries: iron and steel, nonferrous metals, machinery, machine tools, vehicles, aircraft, electrical goods, chemicals, cotton, wool, petroleum, shipbuilding
· Exports: manufactures goods
· Imports: petroleum products, meat, fruit and vegetables, machinery metals, oil, chemicals, coffee, tea, dairy products, wood, paper tobacco, oils and fat.