Examine the main stages in the formation of the population of Great Britain (Ancient Britain, Celts, Romans, and Anglo- Saxons).
Describe the geographical position of the British Isles, offering an explanation for its advantages and disadvantages. Define the term «continental shelf», its importance for the economy.
The British Isles are situated on the continental shelf off the north-west coast of Europe and comprise a group of over 5,000 islands (the Shetland Island, the Hebrides, the Orkney islands, the Isle of Man etc.).
Continental shelf is the zone of shallow water surrounding at present the continent and resembling a shelf above the deep water of the oceans. It’s very important for the economy because of exploitation of oil & natural gas from the continental shelf under the North Sea.
There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Ireland.
The total area of the British Isles is 322,246sq.km.
From the European continent the British Isles are separated by the English Channel and the North Sea. The English Channel in its widest part in the west is 220 km wide, and in the narrowest (the Strait of Dover) is only 32 km. So the islands have had an easy and mainly profitable contact with mainland Europe. So the islands have had an easy and mainly profitable contact with mainland Europe.
However, the separation of Britain from the continent has had a tremendous impact on the British nation. For centuries the British felt safe and secure protected by the Channel, and no foreign army has ever invaded the country since the Norman Conquest in the 11th century.
The most important sea routes pass through the English Channel and the North Sea linking Europe with the Americans and other continents. The advantageous geographical position of GB created favorable conditions for the development of shipping, trade and economy. The British Isles form one of the most densely peopled areas in the world. With the present population =60 mln. Many problems emerge with land use, road construction and city sprawl.
The British Isles, apart from the two largest islands of GB and Ireland, include several other important islands and groups of islands. Off the northwestern coast of GB there is a group of islands known as the Hebrides, which are divided into the Inner and Outer Hebrides. They are separated from each other by the Sea of Hebrides and the Little Minch. The main occupation of the people there is farming and fishing.
The Isle of Wight lies in the English Channel. It is diamond-shaped, 40 km from west to east and about half as much from north to south. The Isle of Wight lies across the southern end of Southampton Water, and is separated from the mainland by the Solent. The island forms one of the most important tourist resorts in the country. It is linked to London by ferry and rail services. Lying in the English Channel off the extreme south-western coast of GB is a tiny group of the Isles of Stilly, another resort area.
The Channel Islands lie to the south-west on the French side of the English Channel. They are known to the French as the Isles Normandes. The Channel Islands form an archipelago separated by shallow waters from northern France. The total area of the islands is 194 sq. km, but the population is over 130,000. The chief islands of the group are, Jersey and Guernsey. Moreover, the sheep are reputed for their high quality wool sent to the mainland. The coastline of the BrI is indented. Therefore there are many bays and harbours, peninsulas and capes on the coast. Due to its extreme indentity the coastline of GB, despite its relatively modest size, is 8,000 km long. The western coasts of Scotland and Wales are very much indented. This phenomenon offers economic advantages, giving the possibility to establish ports in these inlets, which are important to keep ships safe from storms and to give them access deep into the country. The east coast is less lofty and more regular than the west coast, and the coastal lowlands are flooded frequently.
Give an account of the physical geography of the British Isles, describing the varied relief features. Examine the main rivers and lakes of Great Britain. Outline the climate and weather of the British Isles. Account for the chief mineral resources of Great Britain
It’s strange, but been a small island, Great Britain has a remarkable variety of landscapes. England, which is the richest, the most fertile and populated part of the country, has beautiful valleys and plains, which are called the Lowlands. Ranges of chalk hills stretch across the south of England. In the north, England is separated from Scotland by the Cheviot Hills running from east to west. The Pennine Chain, which extends from the Cheviots to Derbyshire, is called the Backbone of England. West of the Pennines are the Cubrian Mountains. There are many picturesque lakes with wooded or grassy shores here. It’s the famous Lake District, the real tourist attraction. Here lies the largest lake in England- Windermere.
Wales and Scotland are mountainous areas. In Wales the mountains are rocky and difficult to climb. The mountains cover practically all the territory of Wales and are cold the Cambrian Mountains. The highest peak is Shadow (1,085m).
Geographically Scotland may be divided into three physical regions: The Highlands, The Central Lowlands and the Southern Uplands. The Highlands of Scotland are among the oldest mountains in the world. But they are not very high. The highest of them is Ben Nevis (1,344 m).
The Central Lowlands sometimes known as the Midland Valley lie between the Highlands and the Southern Uplands. The Central Lowlands have the most fertile soil, the most temperate climate and the best harbours.
The Southern Uplands extend from the Central Lowlands of Scotland in the north to the Cheviot Hills and the Lake District in the south. The Uplands form a broad of pastoral country.
Geographically Ireland is an island and a single unit, but politically it is divided into Northern Ireland (capital Belfast) and the Irish Republic with the capital Dublin. Ireland forms a large extensive plain surrounded by a broken belt of mountains, or the uplands: the Antrim Mountains, the Sperrin Mountains and the Mourne mountains.
The longest rivers of Great Britain can’t be compared with the great rivers of the world, but few countries are better supplied with useful streams. The longest of them are the Severn, the Clyde and the Mersey. They flow into the Irish Sea. The Thames, the Trent and the Ouse keep the way to the Irish Sea.
A warm ocean current, the Gulf Stream, washes Britain shores. This water heats up and cools down very slowly. So the climate of Great Britain is temperate and mild and the country enjoys warmer winters and cooler summers than other countries at the same latitude. The climate is not the same in all parts of Britain. The western side is warmer than the eastern and it also has more rain. This is due to the form of the surface of the country. The western hills and mountains shut out some of the mild winds from the Atlantic. In Britain, there is much rain and fog in autumn and in winter, so it is a damp country.
Mineral wealth: Great Britain has no large-scale resources of non- ferrous metals. Nearly all of them are imported. However, the country has a great variety of non-metallic minerals such as granites in Devon and Cornwall; clay, chalk, sand and gravel important for the building industry; different kinds of salt; kaolin, a fine white china-clay used in cotton, paper and pottery manufacture.
The most important offshore oil fields are located off the eastern and northern coast of Scotland and north-east England. Today Britain is completely self-sufficient in oil, and also to a great degree in gas.
Examine the main stages in the formation of the population of Great Britain (Ancient Britain, Celts, Romans, and Anglo- Saxons).
In prehistoric times Britain was joined to the rest of Europe. The first people came there over dry land. Towards the end of the Ice Age the low-lying land areas became covered with water, and thus the present English Channel was formed. The hunters of the New Stone Age crossed the sea to Britain to the west of tie Channel and settled along the Western shores in their search of food. First inhabitants of the island for whom a traditional name exists are the Iberian or Megalithic people, who lived mainly in the western part of the country. They are thought to have come from the region of the Mediterranean Sea (the Iberian Peninsula where Spain is located) somewhere after 3000 B.C. Soon after 2000 B.C. another people entered the country from the east of Europe. The two peoples intermixed.
The Celts arrived from Central Europe after 800 B.C. The name "Britain" comes from the name of a Celtic tribe known as the Britons who settled in the country. The Celts spoke the Celtic language. The influence of the Celts was greatest in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. They were driven to these parts by the invaders who followed them. Due to this, these parts of Britain are very different from England in language, custom, traditions.
Caesar, the Roman ruler, first invaded Britain in 35B.C., because Caesar knew that Britain produced corn which the Romans needed. Tin, widely used in Rome, was exported from Cornwall. And the Romans needed a fresh supply of slaves. Moreover, the Celts in Britain helped their kinsmen in Gaul in their struggle against the Romans who wanted to conquer them. However, Caesar's first expedition was not successful, because his force was small, and the Celts fought well. So in the following year, that is in 54 B.C., he invaded the country with a larger army of 25,000 men. This time the expedition was successful, and the Celts were defeated. But Caesar did not stay in Britain. He left the country with many slaves and other riches, and he received a promise from the Celts that they would pay a regular tribute to Rome.
Some 90 years later, that is in A.D. 43 the country was conquered by the Romans. This occupation of Britain continued to the beginning of the fifth century. In the south and south-eastern parts Roman influence was greatest, while in the north and west the country remained much untouched.
Many towns were built by the Romans which were connected by good roads. Some of these roads still exist to this very day. For example, Watling Street from London to Chester. Most British towns with names ending with "chester" were, in Roman times, fortified camps. The largest of the towns was called Londinium. It began life as a Roman fort at a place where it was possible to cross the river Thames. Many believe that here was a Celtic settlement called "Llyn-dyn" which meant "lake-fort". Life in the south-east of Britain resembled life in Rome, and there was a lively trade between Britain and the continent. However, when the Romans left the country at the beginning of the 5th century, Britain became open to the attacks of newcomers from the continent who destroyed Roman civilization and culture.
After the departure of the Romans, the Celts remained independent for some time, but quite soon the country began to be attacked by Germanic tribes from the continent. The Jutes and the Angles came from the Jutland peninsula (today southern Denmark) and the Saxons from the territory between the Rhine and Elbe rivers (northern Germany). At first they came as mercenaries hired by Celtic tribal chiefs who fought one against the other, then seeing that the country was weak to defend itself, they came in great numbers conquering it altogether.
The Jutes landed in Kent (the south-east) somewhere in 450. They were followed by the Angles and the Saxons so that by the end of the 5th century the greater part of the country (with the exception of Wales, Cornwall and Scotland) became occupied by the invaders. The Angles settled mainly to the north of the Thames, and quite soon the country began to be called "the land of the Angles", later "Engla-land" and as you easily see England. The Saxons settled in the south, south- west and partially east forming the ancient kingdoms of Wessex, Sussex and Essex. The Anglo-Saxons and Jutes were close to each other in speech and customs, and they gradually formed into one people referred to as the Anglo-Saxons.
Although the German invaders occupied most of the British Isles, certain areas remained unconquered. They were Wales, Cornwall, the northern part of Britain, Ireland. Many of the Celts who survived after the attacks of the Germanic tribes fled to these parts of the country. Thus Celtic culture continued to exist in the parts of Britain which were mentioned above. The northern part of Britain was the home of the Picts and Scots. After the conquest of the Picts by the Scots in the 9th century this northern territory came to be called Scotland and a united Scottish kingdom was formed in the 11th century.
The Saxon kingdoms fought one against the other, at times one kingdom would become stronger, then another, but at the beginning of the 9th century Wessex became the leading kingdom and united the rest of England in the fight against the Danes, who came from present-day Denmark. Since 829 the greater part of the country was united under the name England.
An important event which contributed to the unification of the country and the development of culture was the adoption of Christianity in England in 664. Christianity began to spread in England much earlier. It is connected with the name of St. Augustine who founded the Church of England in 597.