United Kingdom (2)

The official name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Its area covers 250 000 square km. Its population is 60 million people. The capital is London with 7million people in the center and 12 million people including the conurbations. The currency is the pound sterling which can be divided into 100 pence. Languages spoken in the country are: English, Welsh, and Gaelic. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II and the head of government is Tony Blair. The country is divided into several parts with distinct capital cities: England (London), Wales (Cardiff), Scotland (Edinburgh), and Northern Ireland (Belfast).

The country itself is an island and there are also islands that belong to it, for example: Ireland, The Hebrides and the Shetlands. There are lowlands and highlands (mainly in Scotland and Wales). There are the Pennines and the Lake District. The highest points are Ben Nevis (located in Scotland with an elevation of 1,342m) and Snowdon (located in N. Wales with an elevation of 1,085m). Rivers include the Severn and the Thames. Lakes include Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, and the Lake District. Britain has a mild climate. Almost all of the lowlands are cultivated (the land is 1/3 arable and 2/3 pasture).

In 8000 BC, the British isle separated from the mainland of Europe. Nomads known as Celts then arrived. In 43 AD, the Roman occupation took place. In 449 AD, the Angles, the Saxon, and the Jutes arrived. In 1066, the Battle of Hastings took place and William the Conqueror won and began the Norman occupation (French became the official language). During the 13th century, the Great Council changed into the Parliament because they needed taxes from the wool export. The Hundred Years´ War took place in the 14th century. The Wars of the Roses took place in the 15th century when the House of York which was white fought against the House of Lancaster which was red. The Tudor Monarchy resulted and lasted until 1603. It was a time of great royal power and of great wealth of the king. Henry VIII. had six wives and he established the Church of England. The reign of Elizabeth I. was a time of great prosperity. Later came the Civil War when the Royalists (who were Anglican) fought against the Parliamentarians (who were Puritan). Oliver Cromwell became the ruler and he imposed heavy taxes. Charles II. was the ruler after him. Later came WWI and WW2. In the 1960s, independence was given to most of the colonies.

Today’s political System consists of Queen Elizabeth who reigns but does not rule. The Government, as a body of ministers, rule in her name, and are responsible to the Parliament. Her birthday is celebrated in June. Her royal title has 34 words and differs in parts of the Commonwealth. Prince Charles is the Prince of Wales and heir to the throne. Parliament is the supreme legislative authority in the country. Its headquarters are located in Westminster. The Sovereign summons and dissolves Parliament and makes speeches from the throne. The House of Lords is composed of hereditary and life peers. There are about 1200 lords. The House of Commons is elected every 5 years by adults. There are 650 members. The party that wins forms the Government and selects its Prime Minister. The others are the opposition. The Constitution is not written but formed by statute (ustanovení), common law, convention (úmluva), and changed by an Act of Parliament. Places of interest in GB are Stratford-upon-Avon, which is the birthplace of Shakespeare, Oxford and Cambridge as university towns, and Stonehenge, a megalithic monument on the Salisbury Plain.

Přidal: sheeni 19. 5. 2011
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