The Unated Kingdom
The British Isles is a geographical term that refers to the great number of islands that surround and include Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a political term which includes Great Britain, the largest island of the British Isles and Ulster or Northern Ireland. Great Britain is made up of three countries: England, Scotland and Wales. Many years ago these were separated from countries, each with its own language and government, but now they are united and English is spoken everywhere. Great Britain is the largest island in Europe and the eighth largest in the world. It is 500 km wide and nearly 1,000 km long. It is in the north-west of Europe and is separated from the Continent by the North Sea and the English Channel which, at its narrowest, is only 21 miles across. Between Great Britain and Ireland lies the Irish Sea.
There are no extreme contrasts in temperature in Britain because of the current of warm water flowing from the gulf of Mexico called the Gulf Stream. While the British climate is very changeable, temperatures rarely fall below -10 degrees C (14 degrees F) or go above 32 degrees C (90 degrees F). Rainfall is fairly well distributed throughout the year.
English is the official language, but many people know more than one language. Although Britain is quite small in terms of land area (242,000 sq km), it has a large population of nearly 58 million, which ranks 17th in the world. With an average of 239 people per sq km, Britain has the highest population density in Europe. Most people in Britain live in towns and cities.
The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who succeeded to the throne in 1952, is Head of State, with a largely ceremonial role. According to the constitution the state is ruled by Parliament. The British Parliament consists of two Houses - the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The Prime Minister heads the government and appoints ministers. The largest political parties are the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
In Britain oil is the main source of power and Britain is now the ninth largest producer of crude oil in the world. Great Britain is a highly developed industrial state. The older branches of industry (coal-mining, metallurgical, textile and ship-building industries) and the new ones (electrical engineering, electronics, wireless, automobile, aircraft and chemical industries) which arose in the 20th century are of equally great importance for Great Britain. The most important branches of the textile industry are woolen and cotton industries. British woolen stuffs - cheviot, covertcoat, gabardine are widely known for their high quality.
From the air Britain still looks like an agricultural country. The mild and damp climate in the British Isles is very good for agriculture. On the eastern side of Britain farmers grow arable crops such as wheat andcereals. In the wet grasslands of the west they keep cattle and sheep.
Britain has only 1% of the world's population but is the fifth largest trading nation. It exports oil and manufactured goods such as machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, aerospace equipment and chemicals. Britain's export earnings from services such as banking, insurance, and tourism exceed those from exports of goods.
The average Briton watches 26 hours of television a week. There are four terrestrial TV channels. Some people also receive satellite or cable TV. There are national networks and local stations. The BBC World Service broadcasts to radio listeners in 38 languages.
About 29 million people over the age of 16 regularly take part in sport or exercise. Walking is the most popular activity. Football is the largest spectator sport.
Words and word combinations:
Ireland: Ірландія island: острів
to separate from: відділяти від
English Channel: канал Ла Манш
Gulf Stream: Гольфстрім
according to: згідно з
to rule: керувати
House of Lords: палата Лордів
House of Commons: палата громад
to appoint: призначати
coal-mining industry: вугледобувна промисловість
wireless industry: радіопромисловість
cereals: хлібні злаки
cattle: велика рогата худоба
earnings: заробітки, прибутки
to exceed: перевищувати
terrestrial: земний, сухопутний
satellite: супутник, супутниковий