The economic regions of Great Britain are diverse and vary in the rate of their economic development, regional specialization and natural resources distribution. The major economic regions of Great Britain are the following: the South of England (sometimes subdivided into the South-East and the South-West); the Midlands (the West Midlands and the East Midlands); Lancashire; Yorkshire; the North of England (the North-West and the North-East); Scotland; Wales; Northern Ireland.
The South of England, and particularly the South-East, has always been considered more prosperous and more prospective as contrasted to the North of England and the Celtic-fringe provinces — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The South-East is the largest and more highly developed region with London and the Greater-London area as the major centres.
London is Britain's capital and main communication centre, one of the world's most important financial centres (second — only after New York), one of the world's three largest eitles (with Tokyo and New York), and one of the largest ports (with New York and Rotterdam). London is the main centre in Britain of printing, cinema film production and of manufacture of clothing, food and drink, furniture, materials for the arts, precision instruments and many other specialized products.
London is also important, especially its Outer Ring, for light engineering, chemicals and consumer goods. There are heavy-engineering plants and a number of leading research establishments in this area. Towards the periphery of Greater London and in new urban development outside it the electronics has expanded greatly; some of the largest aircraft plants are in these areas (in the town of Hatfield) and factories manufacturing motor vehicles — lorries — are also situated here (in the town of Luton).
In the estuaries of the Thames and other rivers of the region there are large oil refineries as well as shipyards.
Major motor vehicle manufacturing plants are some 50 miles north-west of London, near Oxford. Oxford and Cambridge are famous university eitles, Oxford being also a car-manufacturing centre, while Cambridge includes industries which have depended to a considerable extent on university connections and orders, as diverse as instrument making, printing, electronics.
Atomic energy research and production centres are Aldermaston (l) and Hartwell.
Portsmouth is a naval port with some shipbuilding and ship-repairing. Southampton is Britain's largest port for ocean-going liners; its industries include ship-repairing, oil-refining, etc. The fishing ports (e. g. Great Yarmouth) have fish-processing plants and are bases for companies engaged in natural gas exploitation in the North Sea.
The English Channel coast is fringed with holiday resorts (e. g. Brighton) and "dormitories" for people working in (daily commuting to) London.
East Anglia is a major agricultural area. Wheat, barley and sugar beet are grown here. Norwich, with its flour-mills and sugar factories, is the centre of the area and also a producer of agricultural machinery and footwear.
Kent is another agricultural area, the orchard of England. It is famous for its apple-growing and hop-growing.
The South-West includes Cornwall and Devon; its soils are not fertile, and dairy-farming is more developed with meat cattle-breeding, sheep-breeding, cultivation of flowers, young potatoes and soft berries (strawberries, raspberries, etc.).
Devon and Cornwall have a considerable tourist industry. Bath, a popular health resort and the centre of an agricultural district, is noted for engineering and other manufacturing.
The most developed industrial centre of the region is Bristol — a leading port and commercial centre with aircraft, aerospace, aero-engines, tobacco, food-processing, paper, printing and other industries and important non-ferrous metals and basic chemical plants.
The Midlands (or the Midland industrial region) represent the largest concentration of manufacturing industry. Metal-working on the basis of local coals was the source of the "Black Country" development.
The characteristic industries of the West Midlands are metallurgy (steel tubes and non-ferrous metals), machine-tool building, electrical engineering, and the car, carpets and pottery industries (with over 80 per cent of Britain's ceramic industry located in Staffordshire, around Stoke-on-Trent).
Birmingham is the regional capital, a "city of a thousand trades", including not only motor cars and bicycles but engines for aircraft production. Coventry is the centre of the car and aircraft industries.
In the East Midlands, Leicester is noted for hosiery and knitwear, boots and shoes and machinery for making these products, Nottingham — for lace and bicycles, tobacco and pharmaceutical goods, Corby — a new town — for steel industry (it was nearly condemned to death by the closure of steelworks by the British Steel Corporation).
Part of Britain's richest coal-fields lies under the north-east of the area. In agriculture, horticulture is important in the Midlands as a supplier of food for the local urban population.
Lancashire — the region to the north-west of the Midlands, with the largest cities of Manchester and Liverpool — is the centre of the cotton and related textile industries, chemicals of all kinds and textile machinery. Shipbuilding and ship-repairing is also essential for the region.
Liverpool is the second port of Britain, a great commercial and insurance centre and, after London, the greatest centre for processing imported foodstaffs and raw materials (flour milling, soap manufacture, sugar refining and rubber products) and motor-car manufacture.
Manchester is the commercial capital of the cotton and man-made fibre textile industries, a very important financial centre and a major port (2).
In the traditional cotton-manufacturing towers of the region, man-made fibres are also processed or blended with cotton.
The Lancashire plains are highly suitable for dairy-farming. Market gardening is developed on the outskirts of large towns.
Yorkshire — the eastern neighbour of Lancashire — is separated from the latter by the Pennines. About three-fourths of Britain's worsted and woolen industries are found here.
Leeds is the commercial centre of the woolen textile area and has a large ready-made clothing industry.
Sheffield is a heavy-engineering centre famous for its high-quality steels, cutlery and tools. The area's extensive coal-fields provide nearly one-fourth of Britain's coal.
Hull, one of the world's largest fishing ports, is also important for vegetable-oil processing, paints and sawmilling.
York is noted for chocolates and confectionery manufacture.
The Yorkshire Dales are suitable for sheep-breeding, dairying and beef farming, some cultivation of cereals and root-crops for sale off the farm.
The North of England consists of two different areas: the North-West (including Cumbria, otherwise well known as the Lake District — a popular tourist centre due to the picturesque scenery), and the industrial North-East.
The North-West has a small industrial district on the west coast — the Cumberland Coal field.
The first British atomic power Station — Calder Hall — was built in the North-West. The unpopulated parts of the area are also occupied by military bases and missile sites.
The industrial North-East is more dependent than other parts of England on traditional heavy industries — coal-mining, iron and steel manufacture shipbuilding, ship-repairing and chemicals.
Newcastle (Newcastle upon Tyne) is known for its coal deposits, and "to carry coals to Newcastle" is justly considered "to be doing unnecessary things". Together with Middleborough, which manufactures steel, Newcastle forms the backbone of the area's basic industries.
All the above-mentioned economic regions have plentiful energy resources in the coal-fields and from nuclear power stations and have access to offshore oil and gas reserves.
Scotland. About three-fourths of Scotland's population are concentrated in the Central Lowlands, while the Southern Uplands, the Northern Highlands and the Islands in the north are sparsely populated.
The traditional Scottish Industries: coal-mining, steel manufacture, shipbuilding, textiles (high-quality tweeds, woolens and knit-wear) — remain important, but they have been in decline for a number of decades.
The most important development of Scottish economy has been the expansion of offshore-related industries following the discovery in the 1970s of oil and gas under the North Sea. The offshore oil industry has also encouraged expansion in financial and business services.
New industries, have grown within the Scottish economy following a high level of investment by overseas companies. Especially from the United States — electronic engineering, chemicals, especially petro-chemicals, the food and drink industries and light engineering.
Clydeside including Glasgow, is Britain's largest shipbuilding and marine engineering area.
Edinburgh is (ho capital city of Scotland. its cultural and industrial centre, where modern industries are expanding alongside the long-established engineering, printing and brewing industries.
Scotland has one-third of Britain's total agricultural land, but 70 per cent of it consists of hill grazing for: cattle and sheep. Only about 10 per cent of the agricultural area is used for crops, and 70 per cent of it is under barley.
Scotland accounts for half of Britain's forest area. Fishing remains an important activity.
Despite the discovery of oil, Scotland remains heavily dependent on electricity and' gas.
Tourism is of major importance or Scotland.
Wales. Nearly two-thirds of the population of Wales live in industrial South Wales.
Coal-mining is the traditional basic industry which produces 9 per cent of Britain's coal, including all of its anthracite. The steel industry supplies almost all Britain's output of tin plate and much of its sheet steel. New firms have appeared in Wales, including most recently Japanese and American concerns.
The main urban industrial centres are Cardiff — the capital of Wales, Newport and Swansea, which are also three major ports. Milford Haven, a new deep-water harbour, has two major oil refineries.
Agriculture occupies about 72 per cent of the land area, the main activities being sheep and cattle rearing in the hill regions and dairy-farming in the lowlands.
Wales accounts for about 11 per cent of forest area in Britain and exports about one-third of its water supplies to England.
Tourism in Wales, with its coast resorts and the attractions of the national park (called Snowdonia), is widely popular.
Northern Ireland. The economy of Northern Ireland has its roots in three basic industries — agriculture, textiles, shipbuilding. Agriculture (predominantly livestock and meat products) is still the single most important branch of economy.
Belfast, the capital city, has Britain's largest shipyard. Other industrial activities include the manufacture of aircraft, textile machinery and a wide range of engineering products, tobacco and clothing.
Northern Ireland has long been an important centre for textiles — it is particularly well known for linen, though this branch of the textile industry is in decline. The Northern Ireland unemployment rate is persistently the highest of all regions of Britain. Most of Northern Ireland's trade is with or through Great Britain, and that accounts for the concentration of the population and industry on the eastern seaboard close to Great Britain.
1. The famous Aldermaston marches to London organized by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament during Easter holidays are well known to the progressive people of the world.
2. The Manchester Ship Canal links Manchester with Liverpool and carries a substantial volume of overseas trade.