The United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the official name of the British Kingdom. It is situated on the British Isles. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and about five thousand small islands. Their total area is 242,495 square kilometers.

Great Britain is separated from the continent by the English Channel. The narrowest part of the English Channel is called the Strait of Dover. The UK is washed by the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea and the North Sea.

The UK consists of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. The capital of the UK is London, one of the greatest cities in the world. The population of the UK is over 60 million people.

The surface of the British Isles varies greatly from mountainous areas in the north of Scotland and England to vast plains in the south of Scotland and in the east, center and southeast of England.

The climate of Great Britain is temperate and mild because of the warm Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream flows from the Gulf of Mexico and brings much warmth. However, the weather is very changeable in Great Britain. The English often say that they have no climate but only weather.

Many rivers cross the country. The largest of them are the Severn (350 km), the Clyde, the Thames (346 km), the Trent (274 km) and others. London is situated on the Thames, the deepest river of Great Britain.

As to the political structure of the country it is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. The official head of the state is the Queen. But the power of the Queen is limited by the British Parliament and the British Government. The Queen is a symbol of the country’s history and its traditions. Buckingham Palace is the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen. The Queen is temporal head of the Church of England.

The British Parliament is the highest legislative organ. It consists of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The House of Lords can offer, change and delay laws. The House of Commons makes laws about the policy of the country, taxes and many other things.

The British Government is headed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is usually the head of the political party, which is in power. At present, there are three main political parties in Great Britain: the Labour, the Conservative and the Liberal.

The flag of the UK is known as the Union Jack. It is made up of three crosses: the cross of St. George (the patron saint of England), the cross of St. Andrew (the patron saint of Scotland) and the cross of St. Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland).

The official language of the country is English. The fundamental unit of British money is the pound sterling (£).

The UK is a highly developed industrial country. It is the largest producer and exporter of machinery, electronics, textile, aircraft and navigation equipment. One of the chief industries of the country is shipbuilding. Britain is the world’s third largest trading nation, accounting for about 11 per cent of international trade in manufactured goods.

Although Britain is a highly industrialized country, agriculture is still one of her most important industries. For a small country, Britain has a great variety of soil, climate and types of farming . ranging from beef breeding in Scotland and sheep farming in the mountains of Wales to growing crops, mainly wheat, barley, oats and potatoes, in the large, flat, fertile areas of the eastern counties.

The United Kingdom is one of the greatest and the most beautiful countries in the world. It offers visitors from all over the world a great variety of places of interest. Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, National Gallery, the Royal Albert Hall, the British Museum are most often visited by the tourists.

Great Britain is the birthplace of many famous men of literature, art and science: William Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Archibald Cronin, Alexander Fleming, Anthony Van Dyck, Thomas Gainsborough, Joseph Turner and many others. The United Kingdom is a country with great traditions, which play the more important part in the life of the people than in other countries. Englishmen are very proud of their customs and traditions and carefully keep them up.

1. Memorize the following words and expressions:

1) to consist of – состоять из

2) to separate – разделять

3) narrow – узкий

4) to wash – омывать

5) surface – поверхность

6) to vary – меняться, разнообразить

7) plain – равнина

8) temperate – умеренный

9) mild – мягкий

10) changeable – изменчивый

11) constitutional monarchy – конституционная монархия

12) power – сила, власть

13) the highest legislative organ – высший законодательный орган

14) to offer – предлагать

15) to delay – откладывать, препятствовать

16) law – закон

17) policy – политика

18) taxes – налоги

19) to make up – составлять

20) highly developed – высокоразвитый

21) exporter – экспортер

22) machinery – машинное оборудование

23) aircraft – самолеты

24) navigation – судоходство

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25) equipment – оборудование

26) shipbuilding – судостроение

27) beef breeding – разведение мясного скота, скотоводство

28) wheat – пшеница

29) barley – ячмень

30) oats — овес

31) fertile — плодородный

32) custom – обычай

33) to keep up – сохранять

2. Answer the following questions:

1) What is the official name of the British Kingdom?

2) Where is the UK situated?

3) What do the British Isles consist of?

4) What is the total area of the British Isles?

5) How is Great Britain separated from the continent?

6) What is the narrowest part of the English Channel called?

7) What does the UK consist of?

8) What is the capital of the United Kingdom?

9) What is the UK washed by?

10) What is the population of the UK?

11) How does the surface of the British Isles vary?

12) What is the climate of Great Britain?

13) What are the largest rivers in Great Britain?

14) Is the UK a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch?

15) Who is the official head of the state?

16) What is the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen?

17) What is the highest legislative organ?

18) What houses does the British Parliament consist of?

19) Who is the head of the British Government?

20) What are the main political parties in Great Britain?

21) How do people usually call the flag of the UK?

22) How many crosses is the flag of the UK made up? What are they?

23) What is the official language of the country?

24) What is the fundamental unit of British money?

25) Is the UK a highly developed industrial country?

26) What role does agriculture play in Great Britain?

27) What places of interest in Great Britain can attract people’s attention?

28) What famous men of literature, art and science do you know?

29) Why are Englishmen very proud of their customs and traditions?

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