The British Isles To the northwest of Europe you can see the British Isles which consist of two large islands: Great Britain and Ireland and about five thousand small islands. The British Isles are separated from the European continent by the English Channel and the Straits of Dover. The west coast is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea; the east coast is washed by the North Sea.
Countries on the British Isles
Two countries are situated on the British Isles: the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic. The UK includes Great Britain and the northern part of the island of Ireland. The Irish Republic occupies the rest of the island.
Great Britain or the UK? The official name of the country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But it is often called Great Britain because the most part of the country lies on the island of the same name.
The Parts of the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom consists of four parts: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. There are four main nationalities in the country: the English, the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish. Each of them has its own language and culture.
England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
England is the largest part of the United Kingdom. Wales lies to the west of England. Scotland is the northern part of Great Britain. Northern Ireland occupies one third of the island of Ireland.
Britain’s National Symbols
Each part of the United Kingdom has its own patron saint and floral emblem: England – St. George and the Rose, Scotland – St. Andrew, the Thistle and Scottish Bluebell, Wales – St. David and the Daffodil, Northern Ireland – St. Patrick and the Shamrock.
The National Symbol of England
The national flower of England is the rose. The flower has been adopted as England’s emblem since the time of the Wars of the Roses (between the royal house of Lancaster, whose emblem was a red rose and the royal house of York, whose emblem was a white rose).
The National Symbols of Wales
The national flower of Wales is the daffodil, which is traditionally worn on St. David’s Day. The vegetable called leek is also considered to be a traditional emblem of Wales.
The National Symbol of Scotland
The national flower of Scotland is the thistle, a prickly-leaved purple flower which was first used in the 15th century as a symbol of defence. The Scottish Bluebell is also seen as the flower of Scotland.
The Symbols of Northern Ireland
The national flower of Northern Ireland is the shamrock. An Irish tale tells of how Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity.
The Landscape of the British Isles
The surface of the British Isles varies very much. The north of Scotland is mountainous and is called the Highlands, while the south, which has beautiful valleys and plains, is called the Lowlands.
Mountains The north and the west of England are mountainous, but all the rest is a vast plain. Mountains are not very high. Ben Nevis in Scotland is the highest mountain (1,343 m).
Rivers There are a lot of rivers in Great Britain (the Thames, the Avon, the Clyde, the Severn), but they are not very long. The Severn is the longest river in the country, while the Thames is the deepest and the most important one.
Lakes There are also many lakes, especially in Scotland and in the Lake District in England.
London, the Capital of the UK
London is the capital of Great Britain, its political, economic and commercial centre. It is one of the largest cities in the world and the largest city in Europe. It stands on the river Thames which flows into the North Sea, so London is the largest port and one of the main ship-building centres.
Some London’s Sights London has a lot of sights.
The famous landmarks are Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Madame Tussaud’s, The Sherlock Holmes Museum, The Tate Gallery and so on.
Big Ben and Westminster Abbey
The Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament is famous for its big Hour Bell, known as "Big Ben". Westminster Abbey is the place, where the coronation of nearly all kings and queens have taken place.
Madame Tussaud’s Museum
Madame Tussaud’s is a famous museum in London started in 1835 by a French wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. It contains wax figures of famous people from past and present.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
The Sherlock Holmes Museum is the most popular museum in London, dedicated to the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. It is situated near the north end of Baker Street in the central London close to Regent's Park.
The Tate Gallery The Tate Gallery was founded in 1897 as the National Gallery of British Art. When its role was changed to include modern art it was renamed the Tate Gallery after Henry Tate, who had laid the foundations for the collection.
The Main Cities of the Country
London is not only the capital of the UK, it’s also the main city of England. Cardiff is the capital of Wales, Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland.
Cardiff Cardiff is the capital of Wales and a large port. It has many industries such as machine-building and food industry. The main buildings of Cardiff are Cardiff Castle, City Hall, the Public Library and University College.
Edinburgh The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh. Many great people have lived and worked there: Robert Burns, Walter Scott, Robert Lois Stevenson and others. Every year in September Edinburgh Festival is held in the city.
Belfast The capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast. It is the largest city in this part of the UK and one of the main ship-building centres.
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