United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Area: 244.173 Kmē
System of government: Costitutional monarchy.
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II
Capital: Londra (7.640.000 ab.)
Major cities: Birmingham 2.270.000 ab., Manchester 2.250.000 ab., Glasgow 1.700.000 ab., Leeds 1.435.000 ab., Sheffield 1.300.000 ab., Newcastle 1.200.000 ab., Liverpool 877.000 ab., Edimburgo 420.000 ab., Bristol 400.000 ab.
Mountains: Cambrian Mountains (in Wales), Grampian Highlands (in the North of Scotland), Pennine Mountains (in the North of En 525g64f gland).
Rivers: Thames, Trent, Severn
Lakes: Lake District (in the North-West of England).
Islands: Hebrides Islands, Orkney Islands, Isle of Man, Shetland Islands.
Climate: temperate but subject to frequent changes.
- Export: machinery, aerospace products, electrical and electronic equipment, chemicals, oil;
- Import: basic industrial materials, food, manufactured goods.
Famous people: Elton John, the Spice Girls, the Beatles, the Rolling Stone,
1-BRITAIN IN BRIEF.
Britain includes Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) and Northern Ireland. It is wetted by the Atlantic Ocean at west, by the North sea at east, while at south the Channel separates it from the continent. Britain is formed in great part from plains and hills; there are also some reliefs; the Highlands, in the north of Scotland, is one of the most beautiful regions, a land of mountains, lakes and costes. Rains are abudant so Britain has a lot of lakes and rivers, among which the most important is the Thames. The climate is temperate but subject to frequent changes.
Britain is relatively densely populated and ranks 16th in the world in terms of population size. The capital is London which is the centre of government, business and culture; it is also a beautiful and exciting place for visitors, full of historical buildings, museums. art galleries, theatres, shops and international restaurants. Other major cities are Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool. Cardiff, Glasgow, and Belfast.
Britain's four countries have separate traditions and cultures. The British flag is a combination of three flags: the red cross of Saint George (who is the patron Saint of England) the red cross of Saint Patrick (for Ireland) and the white cross (on blue)of Saint Andrew (for Scotland); Wales has its own flag with a dragon.
For centuries people from overseas have settled there to escape political or religious persecutions or in search of economic opportunies. The Irish have formed a large section of the population for generations, then, from the end of the nineteenth century until after the II World War, Jewish and other European refugees came to Britain; there are also Chinese, Greek, Turkish Cypriot and Italian communities. Racial and sex discrimination is unlawful in all areas of life and acts of Parliament cover employment, training, housing and education.
Britain is a monarchy. The king or queen comes from the British royal family, the Windsors. The present monarch is Queen Elizabeth II who became queen in 1953; she lives in Buckingham Palace in London. Britain has a democratic system of government which provides political stability. The British Council promotes British culture overseas, supporting tours by theatre companies, orchestras, rock groups and individual performers. Since the 1960 many British pop singers and groups have became famous all over the world, especially the Beatles, the Rolling Stone, David Bowie, Elton John and Sting.
All over Britain there are beautiful historic houses and gardens wich are open to visitors. Many cities also have attractive public gardens and parcks. Most ordinary houses have gardens too, infact gardening is a favourite hobby for British people. Many sports originally come from Britain, including modern football, tennis, rugby, cricket and golf; Britain doesn't now produce many world champions, but British people play and watch a great variety of different sports and sport continues to play a very important part in the life of the country.
Britain is a member of the European Union, so is part of the world's largest trading bloc. It has lived by its people's enterprise for centuries and it was the world's first industrialised country and based largely on heavy industry; in recent years service industries, such as banking, have become much more important. There exists an extensive communications network of motorways, fast rail services and airport; the Channel Tunnel has strengthened links to the continent of Europe.
2- HOW IS BRITAIN GOVERNED?
Britain is a parliamentary democracy, in which people over 18 have a right to vote for the parliament and government of their choice. Britain has no written constitution which outlines the rights and obligations, so it's ruled according to laws passed by Parliament decisions made in the higher judicial courts and tradition.
The member of Parliament come from different political parties; the main parties in Britain are the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. The party which has the largest number of Members forms the government and the leader of the party becomes the Prime Minister.
The British Parliament has 3 elements:
- the House of Commons
- the House of Lords
- the monarchy
Jointly, these three institutions pass laws, provide the Government with funds and, in the case of the commons and the lords, debate government policy and the major issues of the day.
The members of Parliament meet in the House of Commons. They criticize or support the government, discuss ideas for new laws and, if the majority of them approve an idea, it becomes the law of the country. General elections to choose the Members of the House of Commons must be held at least every 5 yars; with a few exceptions, all adults over the age of 18 may vote if they wish.
The House of Lords include people with aristocratic titles, bishops of the Church of England, and others nominated by the Prime Minister. They can make small changes to laws, but they cannot make new laws.
The monarch is the "Head of State" and he represents Britain when he goes on visits to other countries, but he doesn't have very much real power; he approves the Acts of Parliament.
HOW ARE LAWS MADE IN BRITAIN?
Draft laws take the form of parliamentary Bills. The drafting of Bills must be passed by both Houses following debate and voting, and can be influenced by major interest groups.
* EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS
Britain is a member of the European Community, so it must abide by EU policies and laws. Britain send to the EU 81 elected members. EU law deals mainly with economic and social matters.
The Prime Minister appoints ministers, some of whom usually serve in the Cabinet and are in change of government departments. Government departments and their agencies implement policies after they become law.
* CIVIL SERVICE
Civil servants are servants of the Crown. About half provide public services, such as paying benefits and collecting taxes. Around a quarter work for the Ministry of Defence.
* LOCAL GOVERNMENT
There are also local elections, when people vote for councillors to represent them. Local authorities provide housing, education, personal social services, police and fire brigades.
3- THE BRITISH ECONOMY
British agriculture is noted for its high level of efficiency. Arable crops include cereals, wheat and barley. Potatoes and vegetables are cultivated in easter England and Scotland; throughout the country are grown field vegetables and glasshouses are used for cultivating tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces and flowers.
Over half of farms are devoted to dairy products or beef cattle and sheep, which are reared mainly in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Many major industrial processes and products were pioneered in Britain; today almost all manufacturing is by private businesses. The largest industries are machinery and trasport equipment, chemicals, motor vehicles and aerospace, electronic and electrical engineering, steel, food and drink, and textiles. A growing proportion of Britain's food is supplied by the food and drinks industry and milk consumption is among the highest in the world. The chemicals industry is the third largest in Western Europe and is Britain's biggest export earner.
Britain's aerospace industry is the second largest in the Western world, after that of the United States; the biggest companies are British Aerospace, Short Brothers and Rolls-Royce. British firms have made important advances in avionics for flight control and other system.
British computer companies cater for business, science, and the domestic user. The world's first modem for portable computers and the "palmtop" computer were introduced by companies in Britain. Telecommunications is an important sector and BT has led in the production of optical fibre communications systems.
Britain houses leading banking, insurance, securities and shipping and other financial services and markets. The spread of home ownership has led to increased demand for legal and estate agency services. In the "Square Mile" in the city of London, banks are responsible for a fifth of international bank lending; it has the largest number of overseas banks and the world's biggest insurance industry. The London Stock Exchange is one of the world's largest markets for government and company securities.
The Bank of England is the banker of the Government, holding its main accounts, managing Britain's reserves of gold and foreign exchange. Building societies, which are similar to banks, are the major lenders for house purchase.
Britain has 5 major food retailers; all large retailers have their own buying and distribution operations; recently large supermarkets and shopping malls have sprung up in city centres and suburbs.
Tourism is one of Britain's fastest growing industries.
Trade has been a key part of Britain's economy for centuries. Machinery, aerospace products, electrical and electronic equipment, chemicals and oil are the chief visible exports.
Britain relies in imports of basic industrial materials and food. Imports of manufactured goods have increased and Britain now imports six times as many manufactures as basic materials.
The United States used to be Britain's largest single export market but in 1990 it was overtaken by Germany. Britain's exports to countries in the Far East have grown rapidly and Japan is the tenth largest market.
Invisible trade (banking, insurance, stockbroking, computer services, training, and tourism) is essential to Britain's economy.
Britain is committed to free trade. Most tariffs and other barriers to trade have been reduced and the single European market is designed to remove remaining trade barriers within the Community.
Imports on textiles are restricted to enable domestic producers to compete against countries with law labour costs; other restrictions apply to illegal drugs, indecent or obscene articles or products derived from endangered species.