The United Kingdom is very small compared with many other countries in the world. The total area of Great Britain is 244,820 square kilometres. The population of Great Britain is about 60 mln. people. The United Kingdom is an abbreviation of ‘the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ which is the political name of the country, made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (sometimes known as Ulster).
The UK is an Island state it is composed of some 5.500 islands, large and small. It is situated off to the north-west coast of Europe between the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the North Sea on the east and is separated from the European continent by the English Channel (or La Manche) and the Straits of Dover (or Pas de Calais).The two main islands are: Great Britain to the east and Ireland to the west. They are separated by the Irish Sea.
Geographically the island of Great Britain is subdivided into 2 main regions: Lowland Britain and Highland Britain. Lowland Britain comprises southern and eastern England. The main areas of high land are in Scotland and Wales. The highest mountains are Ben Nevis (1,343m.), and Snowdon (1,085 m.) Of course, these are very small compared with other mountains in the world – Everest. In fact everything in the United Kingdom is rather small – the longest rivers are the Severn, 354 kmand the River Thames, 346 km. Despite its size, there is a great deal of variety within the islands of the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional monarchy, meaning that it is officially “ruled” by a monarch whose powers are controlled by constitutional law. In reality, the monarch is a powerless symbolic figurehead and the country is governed by its legislature: a Parliament made up by the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Prime Minister is supposed to simply be the executive of a ruling political party. Now the British Conservative Party is the ruling party, and David Cameron is the prime-minister.
1. Would you like to visit Britain? Why (not)?
If I could, I would like to visitBritain, for the simple reason that I have heard so much about it and I want to experience it for myself.
One of the main reasons I would chooseLondonis that I would like to go to some of the places that I have seen in photographs and on television. Ever since I was a young child, I have been fascinated by spectacular images of magnificent architecture, huge parks and golden autumnal avenues. There is a burning curiosity in me that can only be satisfied by seeing it with my own eyes. One of the first places I would go to isBuckinghamPalace, where I would have the chance to see at first hand the kind of luxury and splendor that we tend to associate with the royal family. After that, I would head for theTowerofLondonin order to soak up some of the atmosphere of a historically important place. Then I would make my way to famous parks: Hyde Park, St. James Park.
2. What are the state symbols of Great Britain?
The UK is inhabited by the English, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish who constitute the British nation. English is not the only language. Scottish, Welsh and Irish are also used.
The flag of the UK is known as the Union Jack. It has its history. It all began in 1603 whenScotlandwas joined to England and Wales. The flag is made up of 3 crosses. The national anthem is “God Save the Queen”. The national currency is pound.
Every country has its own national emblem. The red rose is the national emblem of England the thistle is the national emblem ofScotlandthe daffodils and the leek are the emblems ofWalesand the shamrock (a kind of clover) is the emblem ofIreland.
3. What would you ask a British teenager about national holidays in Britain?
- What is your favourite national holiday?
- How do you celebrate national holidays?
- Can you tell me about the history of your favourite holiday?
4. Give me a piece of advice on what sights to see in London.
The name “West End” came to be associated with wealth, luxury, and goods of high quality. It is the area of the largest department stores, cinemas and hotels. There are about 40 theatres, several concert halls, many museums including the British Museum, and the best art galleries. The British Museum is one of the largest museums in the world. It consists of the National Library and Museum of History, Archeology, Art and Ethnography.
The Tower of London is the most famous of all the historical buildings in London. It stands today almost unchanged since first it was built in the 11th century. In the past the Tower of London served both as a palace and as a state prison, but it is only a museum today.
One of the “musts” for the sightseer is the Houses of Parliament, facing the Thames, on one side, and Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey, on the other. The House of Commons sits to the side of the Clock Tower (Big Ben), the House of Lords – to the Victoria Tower side.
St Paul’s Cathedral is the greatest work of England’s greatest architect Christopher Wren. The cathedral was begun in 1675. It was opened in 1697 but was finished only in 1710, when Wren was almost eighty years old. There are memorials to many famous men of England in the Cathedral.
Trafalgar Square is in the centre of the West End of London. On the north side is the National Gallery; in the north-east corner is the National Portrait Gallery, and in the centre is Nelson’s Column with the figure of the great seamen. Trafalgar Square is the place where mass meetings and demonstrations take place.
“Big Ben” is the name of the great bell which strikes the hour. It is in the clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament.
Westminster Abbey is the historic building inLondonto which every visitor sooner or later goes. The Abbey was founded in the 11th century. Many of Great Britain’s famous men are buried in Westminster Abbey.
Piccadilly Circusis a square in the central part of London. London’s best-known theatres and cinemas and most famous restaurants are on Piccadilly Circus. In the square you can see people of many nationalities and hear a lot of different languages.
Hyde Parkis the largest park in the West End of London. In the 19th century it became a popular place for public meetings.
5. Do the British differ greatly from Belarusian people in character? Why?
We often see other nationalities as having a set of characteristics which set them apart from others, particularly ourselves.
The British are famous for their tolerance and sense of humour, yet they don’t always say what they think and can be intentionally rude.
Also we know the British as the lovers of animals and nature. They are especially preoccupied with their houses. As the proverb says, “An Englishman’s home is his castle”. Gardening is still one of the most popular hobbies in the country.
However, the British are not one nationality but four, who all see each other differently. The Welsh are considered to be a much more talkative group. And indeed Waleshas produced many preachers and trade union leaders, particularly in the 19th century. In contrast, the Scots are seen as more serious.
But todayBritainis a multicultural society because of the large scale immigration toBritain. These ”new British” people have brought widely differing sets of attitudes with them. In spite of different accents, cultural backgrounds and different views, they are still all part of an island race, whose culture and customs are mixed so well together that they produce a British identity.