THE UNITED KINGDOM
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British Isles, lying off the northwest coast of continental Europe. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and about five thousands five hundred smaller islands with the total area of over 244 000 square kilometers. The island of Great Britain is washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the northeast, north and northwest. It is separated from Europe by the North Sea, the Straits of Dover and the English Channel. In the west Great Britain is separated from Ireland bу the Irish Sea, North Channel and St. George’s Channel. The seas surrounding Great Britain are shallow and rich in fish.
Great Britain is an island lying off the western coast of Europe, comprising the main territory of the United Kingdom. With an area of 229.850 km it is the largest of the British Isles, an archipelago that also includes Ireland and the Isle of Man. It is the largest island in Europe, and ranks either eighth or ninth in size among the islands in the world, depending on how Australia is classified. It stretches over approximately ten degrees of latitude on its longer, northsouth axis.
The United Kingdom has the total area of about 242 000 sq. km. It is nearly 500 km. across at the widest point, and almost 1 000 km. long. It is made up of four countries: England consisting of 46 administrative counties, Wales – of 13 counties, Scotland – of 33 counties, including the Hebrides, the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands, and Northern Ireland (or Ulster), consisting of 6 counties. Their capitals are London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast respectively. The capital of the UK is London. The largest cities of Britain are: London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol, Leeds and Edinburgh. The most important ports are: London, Liverpool, Southampton, Belfast, Glasgow and Cardiff.
There are two small parts
of the British Isles which have special political arrangement. They are the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Each has complete internal self-government, including its own Parliament and its own tax system. Both are ruled by a Lieutenant Governor appointed by the British government.
Geographically, the island of Great Britain is subdivided into two main regions – Lowland Britain and Highland Britain. Lowland Britain comprises southern and eastern England. Highland Britain consists of Scotland, most of Wales, the Pennines, and the Lake District. The Pennine Chain extends southward from the Cheviot Hills into the Midlands, a plain region with low hills and valleys. England is separated from Scotland by the Cheviot Hills, running from east to west.
The highest mountains are in Scotland and Wales: Ben Nevis is 1.343 metres and Snowdon is 1.085 metres. In fact everything in the United Kingdom is rather small – the longest rivers are the Severn (354 kilometres), flowing along the border between England and Wales, tributaries of which include the Avon, famed by Shakespeare, and the River Thames (346 kilometres), which flows eastward to the port of London. The swiftest flowing river in the British Isles is the Spey. There are a lot of lakes in Great Britain. On the northwest side of the Pennine system there is the Lake District, containing the beautiful lakes which give it its name.
The climate in Britain is generally mild and temperate because of the Gulf Stream, which brings warm water and air across the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico.