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Card #6a. The UK.
Every country is special. What comes to your mind, when you think of the UK and its people?

     The official name for the country whose language we study is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In everyday use, however, the word "Britain" is quite possible. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has several different names. Some people say "Great Britain", or "Britain", or "the United Kingdom", or just "the U.K." and "G.B."

     The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British Isles. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and about five thousand small islands. Their total area is over 244,000 square kilometres. Great Britain is an island that lies off the north west of Europe. It is the largest island of Europe. It is 500 km wide and nearly 1,000 km long.


     There is the Atlantic Ocean on the north of it and the North Sea on the east. The English Channel, which is about 21 miles, separates the U.K. from the continent. The western coast of Great Britain is also washed by the Irish Sea. 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. The north and the west of England are mountainous, but all the rest – east, south-east and center – is a vast plain. Mountains are not very high. Ben Nevis in Scotland is the highest mountain (1343m).

     There are a lot of rivers in Great Britain, but they are not very long. The Severn is the longest river, while the Thames is the deepest and the most important one.

     The mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and the warm waters of Golf Stream influence the climate of the British Isles. It is mild the whole year round.

The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. London is the capital of the UK but also the capital of England. Cardiff is the capital of WalesEdinburgh is the capital of Scotland and Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. Great Britain consists of England, Scotland and Wales and does not include Northern Ireland. But in everyday speech "Great Britain” is used to mean the United Kingdom.

     The UK is one of the world's smallest countries. Its population is about 60 million. About 80% of the population is urban.
Everybody from the UK is British, but be careful: only people from England are English. People from Wales think of themselves as Welsh; people from Scotland as Scottish; people from the Republic of Ireland as Irish and people from the Northern Ireland as either British or Irish.

Its closest continental neighbours are France and Belgium. Recently the channel Tunnel, which links France and England, has been built.

     The UK is a highly developed industrial country. Its main cities are : London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. The UK is known as one of the world's largest producers and exporters of machinery, electronics, textile, aircraft and navigation equipment. One of the chief industries of the country is shipbuilding.

     The UK is a constitutional monarchy. In law, the Head of State is the Queen. In practice, the Queen reigns, but does not rule. The country is ruled by the elected government with the Prime Minister at the head. The British Parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

     There are three main political parties in Great Britain: the Labour, the Conservative and the Liberal parties. The Conservative party is the ruling party nowadays. The Prime Minister is….

    The British flag, known as the Union Jack, is a combination of three flags: the Saint Andrew’s cross, the Saint Patrick’s cross and the Saint George’s cross.

     The Saint Patrick’s cross is the former flag of Ireland. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born about AD 390. He converted the Irish to Christianity. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on 17 March. The symbol of Northern Ireland is a shamrock and a red hand.
     The Saint George’s cross is the English flag. Saint George is the patron saint of England. He was a soldier famous for saving the Princess Cleolinda from being eaten by a dragon. Saint George’s Day is celebrated on 23 April. The symbol of England is a red rose.
     The Saint Andrew’s cross is the Scottish flag. Saint Andrew, a fisherman, was one of the 12 apostles who followed Jesus Christ. Paintings of Saint Andrew often show him being crucified on an X-shaped cross. Saint Andrew’s Day is celebrated on 30 November. He is the patron saint of both Scotland and Russia. The symbol of Scotland is a thistle.
     The Welsh flag shows a dragon. Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, converted Wales to Christianity and established the Welsh church. Paintings of Saint David show him with a dove on his shoulder. Saint David’s Day is celebrated on 1 March. The symbol of Wales is a daffodil or leek.

Country   Patron Saint  
National Flower(s)   
National Animal(s)   

Flag of England
St. George

Patron Saint: St. George

Tudor Rose

National Flower: Tudor Rose


National Animal: Lion

Northern Ireland

St. Patrick

Patron Saint: St. Patrick


National Flower: Shamrock


Flag of Scotland

St. Andrew

Patron Saint: St. Andrew


National Flower: Thistle


National Animal: Unicorn


Flag of Wales
St. David

Patron Saint: St. David


National Flower: Leek



National Flower: Daffodil

Red Dragon

National Animal: Red Dragon

     London is the capital city of England and the UK. It is a place where the invading Romans first crossed the River Thames. They built a city and called it Londinium. This original site of London is now called the City of London. London manages in a unique way to reflect the past and, at the same time, to live a life of a modern city. The saying "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” means that you can’t be bored in London. There are hundreds of historic buildings, galleries and museums in London.

     As for me, I’m fond of history and I’ve read a lot about English kings and queens. I’d like to visit all places in London which are connected with Royal London, such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall and Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London. And I’d like to visit places which are not in London, such as Windsor Castle, the Queen’s house in Greenwich, the Palace of Holyrood house in Edinburgh and other places in the UK which are connected with the Crown. The UK is famous for its castles such as Edinburgh Castle and Leeds Castle and others, and I’d like to see them with my own eyes. Another place which is worth seeing is Madam Tussaud’s Museum of Waxworks. This museum consists of several halls with wax images of outstanding political characters, poets and writers, world-famous film stars and musicians. Then I’d like to see one of the wonders of the world – the famous Stonehenge. Every year thousands of young people go to Stonehenge to take part in the midsummer Druid festival. I wish I were there.

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