Britain lies off the north-west coast of Europe across the English Channel, the Strait of Dover and the North Sea. It consists of two large islands (Great Britain and Ireland) and about 5.000 smaller ones (e.g. the Isle of Wight, the Hebrides, the Channel Islands). Its neighbors are Ireland to west and France to south-east.
England is mostly rolling land, rising to the Uplands of southern Scotland. The main mountain regions here are the Cornish Heights (south-west England), the Cambrians (Wales). The Cheviot Hills are on the border between England and Scotland. The Highlands of Scotland are the highest mountains in Britain (with the highest mountain Ben Nevis). The longest rivers are the Severn and Thames.
British Isles have milder climate due to the Gulf Stream which comes from the Gulf of Mexico to Western Europe.
About 92.5% inhabitants live in urban areas. In Britain we can find the following ethnic groups: English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Ulster, Indian, Pakistan and others. The majority of people speak English. There are minority languages which are of Celtic origin – Welsh, Scottish and Irish Gaelic.
The Celts arrived 2.500 to 3.000 ago. England was added to the Roman Empire in 43 AD. The Romans built camps, forts and roads throughout the land and also Hadrian’s´ Wall as the protection against the invasion of the Celtic tribes. The Roman towns and forts were connected by the network of roads which was used by the British for many centuries. After the withdrawal of Roman legions in 410 the waves of the Jutes, the Angles and the Saxons arrived from German lands.
The last successful invasion was by French speaking Normans led by William Duke of Normandy, who became William the Conqueror after defeating the Saxon King Harold in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
The opposition by nobles forced King John to sign Magna Charta in 1215, a guarantee of rights and the rule of law.
English dynastic claims to large parts of France led to the Hundred Years War (1336-1453) and the defeat of England.
Under Queen Elizabeth I. Britain became a major sea power. In 1588 England defeated the Spanish Armada.
The Stuart dynasty began in 1603 when James VI. was crowned. A struggle between Parliament and the Stuart kings led a bloody Civil War (1642-1649). The country was divided between the supporters of Charles I., who wanted to rule absolutely, and the supporters of Parliament, who wanted to limit the King’s powers. Finally Oliver Cromwell established a republic and King Charles was beheaded.
Large parts of Africa and Asia were added to the empire during the reign of Queen Victoria. Through victorious World War I. Britain suffered huge casualties and economic losses.
Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as the head of state. Britain is divided into four parts: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Wales was politically linked in 1536. The English and Scottish crowns were united in 1603 and their parliaments in 1707. Ireland became the part of this union in 1801 but in 1922 the most of Ireland became a separate state. Now it is the Irish Republic.
Locally in Britain divided into countries. The capital of the whole Britain is London. Other big cities according to population are Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Manchester…..
INTERESTING PLACES: England:
Besides London, which is in the center of each tourist’s attention, there are many other fascinating places. Oxford and Cambridge are the old university towns. Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of William Shakespeare and the place where his plays are performed at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre.
Southern part of England is full of historical monuments and romantic sceneries. Canterbury is an ancient city with a majestic cathedral.
Going north we can go through Birmingham which is at the geographical heart of England and is the second largest city in Britain. Northwest is mainly an industrial area. In Manchester we can visit The Museum of Science and Industry, The Air and Space Museum. Wales:
Wales is sometimes called the land of castles. The land is full mystery and beauty. There are snow-capped mountains, green valley, sea resorts, big cities and little seaside towns. Cardiff, Newport and Swansea are the biggest cities here. Scotland:
Scotland is a historically and culturally separate country from England. The biggest city is Glasgow, the cultural centre and the heart of the arts in Scotland. The city has also some of the finest museums and galleries in Europe. The North of the country is a large and magnificent lake and mountains area. The biggest lake is Loch Lomond and Loch Ness is famous for its “Loch Ness Monster”.