THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND
The UK is situated off the northwest coast of Europe, between the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the North Sea to the east and is separated from the European continent by the English Channel (or La Manche) and the Strait of Dover (or Pas de Calais). The country is situated on the British Isles, and is composed of hundreds of islands, large and small. The two main islands are: Great Britain to the east and Ireland to the west. They are separated by the Irish Sea. The area of the UK is 244,100 square km.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists of four main countries, which are England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh, the capital of Wales is Cardiff, and the capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast. London is the capital of England and the UK. Every country has its own national emblem. The red rose is the national emblem of England, the thistle is the national emblem of Scotland, the daffodil and the leek are the emblems of Wales, and the shamrock (a kind of clover) is the emblem of Ireland.
The population of the UK is over 57 million people. The UK is inhabited by the English, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish. English is not the only language. Scottish, Welsh and Irish are also spoken.
The flag of the UK is known as the Union Jack. It is made up of 3 crosses. The upright cross is the cross of St. George, the patron saint of England. The white diagonal cross is the cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. The red diagonal cross is the cross is the cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. All of them are on the blue background. The national currency is the pound.
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 (or the Pennine Chain) and the Lake District. The highest mountain top is Ben Nevis in Scotland (1344m).
There are a lot of rivers in Great Britain but most of them are not long. The longest one is the Severn (354 km). The Thames is the deepest and the most important river as the capital city stands on it. Among other rivers in Great Britain are the Clyde (the biggest city of Scotland, Glasgow, is situated on it), the Tyne and the Trent. There are many lakes in Great Britain. In Scotland lakes are called lochs. The biggest lake of the UK is Loch Lomond. The most famous is, of course, Loch Ness. A prehistoric creature is said to live there. The Lake District in the north-west of England is famous for its stunning beauty. There are more than fifty lakes there. It is one of the most popular holiday districts in Britain.
Great Britain enjoys the humid and mild marine climate with warm winters and cool summers and a lot of rainfall throughout the year. The climate is greatly influenced by the Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current. It is neither hot in the summer, nor very cold in the winter. Spring is a very beautiful season because everything is covered with flowers. Autumn is wet and cool. It frequently rains in Great Britain. However, it doesn't often snow. The weather changes very quickly. In the morning it may be shining brightly and in the afternoon it may rain. That is why radio and television inform people about the weather forecast very often. The British people joke: "In other countries it is climate, in Britain we have weather."
The largest cities are London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol, Leeds, and Cardiff.
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