PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY u3l2lr
Britain includes Great Britain (comprising England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern
Ireland, and lies off the northwest coast of mainland Europe. It is 500 Km wide
and nearly 1,000 km long. Its closest continental neighbors France and Belgium.
It lies between latitudes 50º North and 60º North. London, the capital
is close to the same of latitude as Berlin, Vancouver and Warsaw. Great Britain
is the largest island in Europe and the eight largest in the world. It is about
the same size as Honshu the biggest of the island that make up Japan, and about
twice size of Iceland of Cuba.
Although it is as closer to the North Pole as eastern Siberia or Hudson Bay Britain
has a warmer climate. While the British climate is very changeable, temperatures
rarely fall below -;10º or go above 32º. Rainfall is fairly well
distributed throughout the year. The wettest parts are the mountainous areas of
the West Coast. Britain is a densely populated and industrialized nation, but
much of the country is cultivated and around 10% of the land is covered by legally
protected National Parks.
English is the official language, but many people know more than one language.
Around 20% of the people Wales speak Welsh and children learn it in schools.
About 80,000 people in Scotland speak Gaelic. For centuries people from overseas
have settled in Britain to escape persecution or in search of a better standard
of living. They have brought with them their languages, cultures and religions.
The most widely spoken minority languages today are from the Asian sub-continent
but other languages include Italian, Spanish, Greek, Turkish and Chinese. Ethnic
minority communities make up about 5 % of the total population.
Population growth in Western Europe is generally low. There were 781,000 live
births in Britain in 1992, or 13,5 live births per 1,000 population. The death
rate is slightly lower at 11 per 1,000. The population is therefore fairly stable.
The proportion of elderly people has been increasing as a result of better standards
of living and health care. The percentage of young people on the population
has been falling. At present only 20% of people in Britain are under the age
Although Britain is quite small in terms of land area, 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 or cities. England has 370 people per sq. km;
Scotland has 66 Wales 139 and Northern Ireland 118. London is the 17 Th most
heavily populated city in the world, but still much smaller than Mexico City.
HISTORY AND POLITICS
Roman rule of England and Wales lasted from AD 43 to around AD 409. Over the
next 600 years there were invasions and settlements by peoples from northern
Europe. The last successful invasion was by the Normans in 1066. In 1172 the
King of England made himself Lord of Ireland. The uniting of England with Wales
and with Scotland led on to the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801.
In 1921 Ireland was partitioned, Northern Ireland remains within Britain.
Britain is a parliamentary democracy. Herb Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who succeeded
to the throne in 1952, is Head of State, with a largely ceremonial role. The
House of Commons and House of
Lords, with the monarch, comprise. The Prime Minister heads the Government and
appoints ministers. The Commons has 651 elected Members, each representing a
local constituency or area Elections, in which citizens over 18 may vote by
secret ballot, are held at lest every five years.
In Britain oil is the main source of power and Britain is now the ninth largest
producer of crude oil in the world. Manufacturing industries once employed the
greatest number of people. There are still a number of large companies in the
vehicle, aerospace, chemical and electronics manufacturing industries. But the
average company is fairly small with 80% employing fewer than 2 people. Today
it is the service industries like baking, insurance, advertising, computer software,
From the air Britain still looks like an agricultural country. Towns and cities
cover only about 10% of the land; about 5% is forest and 10% is rough moorland.
Much of the rest of the land is cultivated. Britain has one of the most efficient
agricultural industries in Europe. On the eastern side of Britain farmers grow
arable crops such as wheat and cereals. In the wet grasslands of the west they
keep cattle and sheep.