Otázka: The UK
GEOGRAPHY – The United Kingdom is situated to the northwest of the European continent, between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It has a total land area of 243,600 km2. The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom (UK) was formed on January 1, 1801 and constitutes the greater part of the British Isles. The British Isles is a geographical term for two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and a great number of smaller islands, including the Isle of Man, Orkney, the Shetlands and the Isle of Wight.
HISTORY – The first people to inhabit the British Isles were settlers from Europe. They arrived between 3,500 and 3,000 B.C. Stonehenge, a huge circle of standing stones, was built by these early inhabitants. More settlers from Europe, especially the Celts, started to invade Britain from 10th century B.C. As one of their tribes was called the Britons, the whole island was named Britannia by the Romans who occupied the country from 55 B.C to the 5th century A.D. Later, a lot of different settlers came to England. For example: Angles and Saxons, Vikings, Normans. One of the most important kings was William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy. He led a French army which defeated the English. Harold, the King of England, was killed and the Duke of Normandy became King William I. of England. The other famous sovereign is Henry VIII, who had six wives. During his reign Wales was brought into legal union with England, but Henry ruled as a true and terrible autocrat. His first wife, Catherine of Aragon, provided him with a daughter, Mary, but no male heir. Next five marriages produced two children, Elizabeth, who became an outstanding Queen of England, and Edward. Henry died in 1547, leaving his 10-year-old son to get the throne as Edward VI. Another famous queen is Queen Victoria. She became the Queen at the age of 18. During her life she became a symbol of the continuity and stability of the British life. Queen Victoria reigned for 64 years, longer than any other sovereign in English history. Victoria was the first monarch to live in Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth II. became Queen and head of the royal family following her father`s death in 1952. Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, is the Queen`s oldest son and the heir to the throne. In 1981 he married Lady Diana Spencer whose title is the Princess of Wales. They have two sons, Prince William and Prince Henry. Diana died in 1997.
POLITICAL SYSTEM – The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy with a monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, and a parliament with two houses: The House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The main function of the House of Lords is to make and revise laws and to check the work of the government. Executive power is exercised by the UK government (it consists of governments of Scotland and Wales, and the Executive of Northern Ireland). Legislative power is exercised in the government and the two chambers of Parliament, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, but a few senior judges are still members of the House of Lords. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each one has its own government or Executive.
The UK is a multi-party system and since the 1920s, the two largest political parties have been the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.
The Flag (Union Flag) – Union Flag exist since 1801 when was declared Union between The Great Britain and Ireland. It consists of the red cross of St. George (patron of England) which is lined by white cross of St. Patrick (patron of Ireland) and under it is a diagonal cross of St. Andrew (patron of Scotland). The whole flag is on the blue background.
Coat of Arms – Now, it is coat of Elisabeth II. which was formed during the time by previous monarchs. There is the Lion on the left side and the Unicorn on the right side. There is also the motto of Union – Shamed be he who thinks ill of it.
Anthem – National anthem of the UK is called God, save the Queen. If king is on the British throne, the song turns into God, save the King.
PLACES OF INTERESTS
London (the capital) – London is the capital city of the United Kingdom, a major financial, political, cultural, educational and fashion centre. Central London is full of places of interest, historical buildings, museums and galleries. Many tourists come to London to visit places connected with the royal family, such as Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Kensington Palace.
Windsor – Windsor is a town in South East England, best known as the site of Windsor Castle, the official residence of the Queen and the largest and oldest continually occupied castle in the world. In the borough, you can also find Eton College, Ascot Racecourse and Legoland.
Scotland – Scotland is a mountainous country in the north of Great Britain, famous for its freshwater lochs (lakes). The largest one is Loch Lomond, which is 40 km long. St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland.
Edinburgh The capital city of Scotland is known for the annual Edinburgh Festival. Among the notable places in Edinburgh are Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the skyline of the city, and Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence while in Scotland.
The Scottish Highlands – TSH is a mountainous area in Scotland including the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis (1,343m). There are also popular ski resorts such as the Glenshee Ski Centre. The famous Highland Games, with bagpipes, dancing, and heavy athletics, are held each year to celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture, especially in the Scottish Highlands.
Wales – Wales is a mountainous country on the western side of Great Britain. The national game of Wales is rugby. The patron saint of Wales is St David.
Cardiff – Cardiff is the capital city of Wales since 1955. Cardiff has many landmark buildings such as the Millennium Stadium (opened in 1999, it is the second largest stadium in the world) and Cardiff Castle (a medieval castle transformed from a Norman stronghold).
Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland lies in the northeast of the island of Ireland. In 1801, the whole of Ireland was incorporated into the United Kingdom. Britain negotiated with Ireland to keep the six counties in the northeast of Ireland. These six counties now make up what is known as Northern Ireland. The southern part of the island is the Republic of Ireland.
Belfast – Belfast is the capital and the largest city in Northern Ireland. Originally it was a centre of ship-building. It is where the Titanic was built.
The Giant’s Causeway – Is an unusual natural geological feature that was formed as lava from an ancient volcano cooled on the earth’s surface. It consists of over 40,000 massive black columns. In Irish mythology, it was built by a giant to cross the sea to Scotland.
TRADITIONAL AND TYPICAL THINGS FOR THE UK – Cricket is a bat and ball game involving 2 teams of 11 players on a pitch of 20m. It is origin and has been known since 1550. It is played in the colonies. The other typical thing for men is bowler hat. The original top hat was very high and the inventor made lower so as not to fall when he is riding the horse. Harrods are department stores. It is connected with English traditions. It belongs to Al-Fajed. These stores are very expensive. The typical features of London are the red double-deckers. The Edward’s Crown Jewels are consisting of the Rod, the Sword of the Stat and Kohinoor. It is the biggest diamond in the world. The replicas of the Crown Jewels are going together with the Queen but she visits this state officially only once. The typical meal is roast beef + Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips. The pudding you can pour on the meat. Fish and chips is a typically dish for working class. It is take-away meal. You can buy it in fish and chips shops. Chips are bigger and contain more oil. The very mysterious monument is Stonehenge. Nobody exactly knows what it means. The British have different weights and measures e.g. inches, yard, mile, grain, ounce, pound, pint, gallon. They accept our measures and weights, but one can see it e.g. in cookbook. You have to pay attention when you are crossing the road, first you must look to the right side because British drive left. At the crossroads you can see lolly pop ladies who help to children to get over the road. The red phone boxes are typical for British streets. Their religion is the Church of England. The Weather is very good topic to start the conversation. It is very changeable and has no big extremes.
PEOPLE – British are conservative and like traditions. They are famous for their sense of humour. Gentlemen we can find only in Britain. For Scottish is typical wearing national dresses kilt and bagpipes. They are very mean and drink whiskey.