The official name of the UK is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and it consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It lies on the British Isles which are situated on the north-western coast of Europe. These British Isles consist of two big islands - Great Britain (there is England, Wales and in the north Scotland) and Ireland (there is Northern Ireland and in the south there is separated state Ireland) and about 5,000 smaller ones (e.g. the Isle of Man, Shetlands). On the north and west, the UK is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, and it is separated from the European continent by the North Sea and the English Channel. The UK covers the area of about 245,000 square kilometres.
Great Britain can be roughly divided into two main regions: lowland Britain and highland Britain. Highland Britain comprises all the mountains and uplands lying above 300 meters. The main mountain and the highest peaks are:
- Grampian Highlands in Scotland with Ben Nevis 1,342m (the highest peak)
- Cambrian Mountains in Wales with Snowdon 1,085m
- Caledonian Mountains in Scotland with Skye 1,009m
Lowland Britain is mainly a rich plain.
British rivers are not very long, but they are quite deep. The best known is the river Thames and the longest is Severn. Other rivers are the Avon, the Tyne and the Trent. Britain is rich in waterways. Almost every town stands on its river: Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle-upon-Tyne etc.
Lakes can be found in the Lake District of England and in the highlands in Scotland, where they are called lochs. The Lake District in north-west of England is renowned for its scenic beauty and numerous lakes. England's largest lake is Lake Windermere. The largest and most beautiful of Scotland’s lakes are Loch Lomond and Loch Ness, which became world-famous in 1930 by its "Loch Ness Monster“. The largest lake of whole UK is the lake Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland.
Britain has generally temperate oceanic climate. There are mild winters without snow, not very hot summers. For this climate of the UK is typical frequent changes of the weather and it rains a lot (There is saying: Rain in seven, sun at eleven).
Population is over 59 million. In Britain, we can find the following ethnic groups: 81.5% English, 9.6% Scottish, 2.4% Irish, 1.9% Welsh and 1.8% Ulster. They are nearly all English- speaking, but still three Celtic languages have survived: Welsh (spoken by the population of the Wales), Gaelic (spoken in Scotland), and Irish (spoken by Irish). Scottish English is obscure to people from other parts of Britain. Typical Scottish words are lass – girl, lad – boy, kirk – church, bonnie – pretty, loch – lake. Britain has received large numbers of immigrants, especially during WW II. UK is one of the most densely populated countries in the world (249 inhabitants per one square km) and about 80 per cent of its inhabitants live in towns. London is the capital city with a population of 7.2 million. There is one town besides London with population over 1 million - Birmingham. Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol, Belfast, Coventry, and Cardiff follow these two - each has population of more than 300,000. The Church of England and the Church of Scotland are the official national churches in their respective countries but there are some Roman Catholic (7%), Muslims, Hindu and Jewish in the UK.
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