The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
1. Stephen Holliday Great Britain. Amazing and extraordinary facts.
2. James O’Driscoll Britain. The country and its People: An introduction for learners of English.
3. Ë³íãâîêðà¿íîçíàâñòâî. Àíãëîìîâí³ êðà¿íè. Ãàïîí³â À. Á., Âîçíà Ì. Î.
1. The country and its people. The main facts.
3. An outline of the British history. The mystery of Stonehenge (individual).
4. National identity. Holidays and special occasions (individual).
1. The British Isles is a traditional geographical term used to identify the group of islands off the northwest coast of Europe consisting of Great Britain, Ireland and the many smaller adjacent islands. These islands form an archipelago of more than 6,000 islands off the west coast of Europe – totalling 315,134 km2 of land. The main island is the largest in Europe, and ranks either eighth or ninth in size among the islands in the world (depending on whether Australia is classified as an island or a continent). The part of the island of Ireland that includes Northern Ireland together with Great Britain is the United Kingdom.
The term "British Isles" is correctly used to describe the whole archipelago, but many Irish people, as well as some Scottish and Welsh nationalists fi nd the term "British Isles" proprietorial and unacceptable as being inconsistent with any modern meaning of the word "British". Another problem is the occasional tendency for "England" to be wrongly used as a synonym when referring to Britain or the British Isles, especially by Americans. The Irish Parliament has actually passed a statute prohibiting the description of the Republic of Ireland as being part of the British Isles.
The current dislike of the term “British Isles” is mostly due to mistakes by politicians made over recent years; this was exemplified by an embarrassing and controversial misunderstanding by the then American First Lady Nancy Reagan during an Irish visit, when she confused Britain with the British Isles. As a result, the term is no longer used in Irish state documents, has been abandoned in schoolbooks in the Republic of Ireland and is being phased out of textbooks. The same mistake was made during a visit to Charles Haughey, then President of the Republic of Ireland, by then Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, when he indicated that he presumed Ireland's head of state was Queen Elizabeth II, given that she was the British Queen and his officials said Ireland was part of the British Isles.
“Great Britain” is also widely used as a synonym for the country properly known as the “United Kingdom”. This is wrongas the United Kingdom includes Northern Ireland in addition to the three countries of Great Britain. Great Britainis a group of islands lying off the western coast of Europe, comprising the main territory of the United Kingdom. Great Britain is also used as a political term describing the combination of England, Scotland, and Wales, the three nations which together make up all the main island’s territory.
The origin of the name “Britain” is unclear. Some historians say that when the Romans took over the southern part of Great Britain they named the island after the Brigantes, one of the largest Celtic tribes living there. The Romans gave it the name “Britannia”. The earlier Celtic inhabitants became known as “Britons” and the island as Britain. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the name Britannia largely fell out of use, only to be used in a historical sense, referring to the Roman possessions. During medieval times, the British Isles were referred to as “Britannia major” and “Britannia minor”. The term “Bretayne the grete” was used by chroniclers as early as 1338, but it was not used officially until King James I proclaimed himself “King of Great Britain” on 20 October 1604 to avoid the more cumbersome title “King of England and Scotland”.
The flag of the UK is sometimes called the Union Jack.
There are many coats of arms used in the UK and GB – in theory the arms of Queen Elizabeth should be used for the UK, but Scotland uses its own version and many English regions as well as Wales and Northern Ireland present their own version.
There are two major symbols of Britain, Britannia and John Bull.
In Renaissance times, Britanniacame to be viewed as the personification of Britain, in imagery that was developed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Both Royal and popular pageants have depicted her to symbolize Britain since then. The most likely origin of this symbol is Queen Boudicca.
John Bullis a literary and cartoon character created to personify Britain by Dr. John Arbuthnot in 1712 and popularized first by British printers and then overseas. Bull is usually portrayed as a stout man in a tailcoat with breeches and a Union Jack waistcoat. He also wears a low topper (sometimes called a John Bull topper) on his head and is often accompanied by a bulldog, as on the pub sign.
The Official Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
On the left, the shield is supported by the English Lion. On the right it is supported by the Unicorn of Scotland. (The unicorn is chained because in mediaeval times a free unicorn was considered a very dangerous beast (only a virgin could tame a unicorn).
The coat features both the motto of British Monarchs: Dieu et mon droit (God and my right) and the motto of the Order of the Garter: Honi soit qui mal y pense('Evil to him who evil thinks')on a representation of the Garter behind the shield.
Anthemofthe United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: "God Save the Queen"
The three national symbols of England are the St. George's cross (usually seen as a flag), the red rose and the Three Lions crest (usually seen as a badge).
The Three Lions Crest -A symbol of England Richard the Lionheart (1189 - 1199) used the three golden lions (sometimes described as leopards) on their scarlet background as a powerful symbol of the English Throne during the time of the Crusades.
The oak is the national tree of England
The origins of the Red Dragon is not known for sure but has been linked to various happenings in history and legend. It could date back to the Roman period, when the dragon was used by Roman military cohorts at the time of the Emperor Trajan. The Tudors adopted the Red Dragon, and the Welsh-born future Henry VII took to the battle of Bosworth Field under the Red Dragon standard.
The earliest mention of the red dragon is In the Mabinogion, when the red dragon fights with an invading White Dragon. His pained shrieks cause women to miscarry, animals to perish and plants to become barren. Lludd, king of Britain, dug a pit in the centre of Britain, filled it with mead, and covered it with cloth. The dragons drink the mead and fall asleep. Lludd imprisons them, still wrapped in their cloth, in Dinas Emrys in Snowdonia.
Legend then has it that the dragons remain at Dinas Emrys for centuries until King Vortigern tries to build a castle there, which falls down every night. Vortigern’s advisers, who tell him to find a boy with no natural father, and sacrifice him. Vortigern finds such a boy who dismisses the knowledge of the advisors telling the king of the two dragons. Vortigern frees the dragons, who continue their fight and the red dragon finally defeats the white dragon.
The origin of its importance is yet unclear, however the thistle has been a Scottish symbol for more than 500 years. It was found on ancient coins and coats of arms.
The coat of arms of Scotland consists of a yellow shield with a red rampant lion in the center. The shield is supported by two unicorns. The shield is flanked by two flag standards, one bearing the rampant lion and the other the Scottish flag. The shield is surmounted by a the Crown of Scotland.
Tartans are an internationally recognized symbol of Scotland. Highlanders wore clothes with distinctive striped or checked patterns, and the growth of clan and family tartans became popular in the mid-18th century.
William Wallace, a brave and patriotic national hero, was an example of the unbending commitment to Scotland's independence. In that noble cause, he died a martyr in 1305, executed in London.
Legend has it that St Patrick used the shamrock to explain the trinity to the Irish and convert them to Christianity. It is recognised around the world as a symbol of Ireland. People wear shamrocks on St Patrick's Day to commemorate the saint. It is also used within Unionist tradition – for example the Royal Irish Rangers wear shamrocks on St Patrick's day. The shamrock is the national flower of Northern Ireland, like the rose in England or thistle in Scotland.
The Red Hand has represented the province of Ulster since the time of the Gaelic aristocracy. It is used by both Nationalists and Unionists – the difference being that Nationalists count 9 counties in Ulster, while Unionists tend to use the word 'Ulster' to describe the 6 counties of Northern Ireland.
The red hand comes from a legend that two chieftains had a race to decide who was lord of Ulster. O'Neill seeing that he was falling behind, cut off his hand and threw it to the shore, claiming lordship of Ulster. In more recent times the red hand has become identified with loyalist paramilitaries during the Troubles - it still tends to be seen more as a Protestant symbol.
Population: 63,047,162 (July 2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 22
Ethnic groups: white (of which English 83.6%, Scottish 8.6%, Welsh 4.9%, Northern Irish 2.9%) 92.1%, black 2%, Indian 1.8%, Pakistani 1.3%, mixed 1.2%, other 1.6% (2001 census)
note: the following are recognized regional languages: Scots (about 30% of the population of Scotland), Scottish Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland), Welsh (about 20% of the population of Wales), Irish (about 10% of the population of Northern Ireland), Cornish (some 2,000 to 3,000 in Cornwall).
Religions: Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) 71.6%, Muslim 2.7%, Hindu 1%, other 1.6%, unspecified or none 23.1% (2001 census)
Major cities (population): LONDON (capital) 8.615 million; Birmingham 2.296 million; Manchester 2.247 million; West Yorkshire 1.541 million; Glasgow 1.166 million (2009)
The territory of the United Kingdom is about 244 square kilometres.
2. Location: Western Europe, islands – including the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland – between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea; northwest of France.
total: 243,610 sq km
country comparison to the world: 80
land: 241,930 sq km
water: 1,680 sq km
Climate: temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast.
Terrain: mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast.
Natural recourses:coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, lead, zinc, gold, tin, limestone, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, potash, silica sand, slate, arable land.
Natural hazards: winter windstorms; floods.
The UK is bordered by four seas:
to the south by the English Channel, which separates it from continental Europe
to the east by the North Sea
to the west by the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean