Great Britain is situated on the British Isles lying off the northwest coast of Europe. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the northwest, north and southwest, and is separated from the European continent by the North Sea, and the English Channel. On the west, the Irish sea and North Channel separate Great Britain from Ireland. The country has a mild and rainy climate, determined by the warm current of the Gulf Stream. The prevailing winds are south-westerly. Rain is regularly distributed throughout the year. The population of Great Britain is more than 55 million people. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The largest cities of Great Britain are London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol, Leeds and Edinburgh. Great Britain comprises England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. It includes four nations: English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish people difer sometimes in their way of life, customs, values and traditions.
England occupies the largest, southern part of Great Britain. The southwest and west are largely plains, hills, and moors. The principal mountains are The Pennines, running form the N. Midlands to the Scottish border, the Cornish Heights in the southwest, The Cheviot Hills, lying on the border between England and Scotland, and the Cumbrian mountains in the Lake District. The east is mainly and open, cultivated plain. England has about 47 million inhabitants in 50 000 square miles. The country is divided into 39 counties. Lancashire, Yorkshire, Warwickshire, Hampshire, Kent, Cheshire, Durham, Essex and Sussex are the largest and the most populated.
Wales is a largely mountainous country bounded on the north and west by the Irish Sea and on the south by the Bristol Channel. In the east it has its land boundary with England. Wales is famous for its long rivers, big lakes and high hills in the north of the country. The whole area of Wales can be divided into three regions – the Welsh Massif, the industrial South Wales and the Welsh borderland. The population of Wales is about 2.600.000 people. The majority of people live in the coal-mining and industrial region of the south around Cardiff, the capital of Wales, and Swansea.
Scotland, situated to the north of England, also includes Orkneys, Shetlands, Herbrides and other islands. It is more than half as big as England.
It can be divided into three parts: the Highlands, the Lowlands and the Southern uplands. The most beautiful part of Scotland is the region known as the Highlands, The highest peak is Ben Nevis, 1.380 metres high. The most famous lakes are Loch Lomond and Loch Ness where the mythical monster lives. There are four big cities in Scotland – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. Edinburgh the ancient capital of Scotland, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It has become the international centre of music and drama and is famous for its annual festival – the Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama.
Northern Ireland (known also Ulster) occupies the northern fifth of Ireland. It is a part of Great Britain. Northern Ireland has a population of over 1.500.000 people. They speak English. Nearly half a million live in Belfast, the capital. Ireland had long been connected to Britain but the Irish Republic became independent in 1922 and Northern Ireland remained a part of Great Britain.The Irish Republic is also known as Eire. It is almost totally Catholic. Approximately two-thirds of the population of Northern Ireland is Protestant and a minority Roman Catholic. The life of people and the politics of Northern Ireland are dominated by religious and economic problems.