Britain lies off the north – west coast of Europe across the English Channel, the Strait of Dover and the North Sea. It consists of 2 large islands (Great Britain and Ireland) and about 5000 smaller ones (e.g. the Isle of Wight, the Hebrides, and the Orkneys). It covers the area of 244,805 square kilometres. England is mostly rolling land, rising to the Uplands of southern Scotland. The main mountain regions here are the Cornish Heights, the Cambrians, the Cumbrian Mountains, the Pennines, the cheviot Hills and the Highlands of Scotland (highest mountains in Britain). The longest rivers are the Severn and the Thames. There are beautiful lake areas in Cumbria and the Highlands of Scotland.
Population is about 60 000 000 people. The density is one of the highest in the World – 232 people/square km. There are several ethnic groups: English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Ulster and others. There are minority languages which are of Celtic origin – Welsh, Scottish and Irish Gaelic. These laugages have some differences between.
The Celts arrived 2500 to 3000 ago. Their language survives in Welsh and Gaelic enclaves as well as in the names of the main European rivers (the Thames, the Elbe, ...)
England was added to the Roman Empire in 43 AD. The Romans built camps, forts and roads throughout the land and also Hadrians Wall as the protection against the invasion of the Celtic tribes. After the withdrawal of Roman legions in 410 the wawes of the Jutes, the Angles and the Saxons arrived from German lands. They drove Celtic peoples into the mountains of Wales and Scotland and fought with the Danes from the 8th to the 11th centuries. 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 1966. Under Queen Elizabeth I. Britain became a major sea power, leading to the founding of colonies in the new world and the expansion of trade with Europe and the Orient. Technological innovations led to the Industrial Revolution (1760s – 1850s). Large parts of Africa and Asia were added to the empire during the reign of Queen Victoria. The country suffered major bombing damage in World War II., but held out against Germany after the fall of France in 1940.
Interesting places in Great Britain:
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. The English countryside is full of peaceful harbour-towns with fishing boats, yachts, cottages and the English like to spend their holidays here. Resorts such as Brighton, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Blackpool, Sunderland or Scarbough have fine sandy beaches and nice atmosphere. Southern part of England is full of historical monuments and romantic sceneries. Canterbury is an ancient city with a majestic cathedral. The other old cathedral town is Winchester – once it was the capital of England. Salisbury is in Salisbury Plain where we can see a beautiful historic monument of Stonehenge with its giant stone circles which are more than 3000 years old. The West Country has its own character, different from the North and the South. The country is still unspoiled by industry. The only larger towns here are Bristol, Plymouth, Bath and Exeter.
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