The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Geography and the climate of the Great Britain. The history of the formation and development of the state. The figures of the country's policy. Level of economic development and industries. Demographic characteristics. The education and culture of the UK.
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THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND
Lecture 1. Geography of the UK
Many foreigners say "England" and "English" when they mean Britain, or the UK, and the British. This is very annoying for the 5mil people who live in Scotland, the 2,8mil in Wales, and l,5 mil in N. Ireland who are certainly not English. However, the people from Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland and England are all British.
1. Territory and its structure
The UK of GB and NI is the political name of the country which is made of England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland (Ulster). Several islands off the Br.coast are also part of the UK (the Isle of Wight, the Orkneys, Hebrides and Shetlands, and the Isle of Scilly). GB is the name of the island which is made up of England, Scotland and Wales and it doesn't include N. Ireland. The southern part of the isle of Ireland is the Republic of Eire.
Britain is one of the world's smaller countries with an area of some 244 100 square km, with some 58 mil people. It stretches for 1000 km from the south to the extreme north, and for 500 km in the widest part.
About half the people live in a large belt stretching north-westwards from London across England. Other large concentrations of population are in the central lowlands of Scotland, south-east Wales and the Bristol area, parts of north-east England and along much of the English Channel coast.
Wales is located on a peninsula in central-west Britain. Its area, the size of Wales, is about 20,779 kmІ (8,023 square miles - about the same size as Massachusetts, Slovenia or El Salvador). It is about 274 km (170 miles) north-south and 97 km (60 miles) east-west. Wales is bordered by England to the east and by sea in the other three directions: the Mфr Hafren (Bristol Channel) to the south, St. George's Channel to the west, and the Irish Sea to the north. Altogether, Wales has over 1,200km (750 miles) of coastline. There are several islands off the Welsh mainland, the largest being Ynys Mфn (Anglesey) in the northwest.
Much of Wales' diverse landscape is mountainous, particularly in the north and central regions. The mountains were shaped during the last ice age, the Devensian glaciation. The highest mountains in Wales are in Snowdonia (Eryri), and include Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), which, at 1085 m (3,560 ft) is the highest peak in Wales. The 14 (or possibly 15) Welsh mountains over 3,000 feet (914 m) high are known collectively as the Welsh 3000s. The Brecon Beacons (Bannau Brycheiniog) are in the south (Highest point Pen-y-Fan 886m (2,907ft)). and are joined by the Cambrian Mountains in mid-Wales, the latter name being given to the earliest geological period of the Paleozoic era, the Cambrian.
Wales has three National Parks: Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast. It also has four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These areas include Anglesey, the Clwydian Range, the Gower Peninsula and the Wye Valley. The Gower Peninsula was the first area in the whole of the United Kingdom to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in 1956.
Along with its Celtic cousins in Cornwall, the coastline of South and West Wales has more miles of Heritage Coast than anywhere else. The coastline of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, the Gower Peninsula, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, and Ceredigion is particularly wild and impressive. Gower, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Cardigan Bay all have clean blue water, white sand beaches and impressive marine life. Despite this scenic splendour the coast of Wales has a dark side; the south and west coasts of Wales, along with the Irish and Cornish coasts, are frequently blasted by huge Atlantic westerlies/south westerlies that, over the years, have sunk and wrecked many vessels. On the night of October 25, 1859, 114 ships were destroyed off the coast of Wales when a hurricane blew in from the Atlantic; Cornwall and Ireland also had a huge number of fatalities on its coastline from shipwrecks that night. Wales has the somewhat unenviable reputation, along with Cornwall, Ireland and Brittany, of having per square mile, some of the highest shipwreck rates in Europe. The shipwreck situation was particularly bad during the industrial era when ships bound for Cardiff got caught up in Atlantic gales and were decimated by "the cruel sea".
Like Cornwall, Brittany and Ireland, the clean, clear waters of South-west Wales of Gower, Pembrokeshire and Cardigan Bay attract visitors including basking sharks, Atlantic grey seals, leatherback turtles, dolphins, porpoises, jellyfish, crabs and lobsters. Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion in particular are recognised as an area of international importance for bottle nosed dolphins, and New Quay in the middle of Cardigan Bay has the only summer residence of bottle nosed dolphins in the whole of the U.K.
The modern border between Wales and England is highly arbitrary; it was largely defined in the 16th century, based on medieval feudal boundaries. It has apparently never been confirmed by referendum or reviewed by any Boundary Commission. The boundary line (which very roughly follows Offa's Dyke up to 40 miles (64 km) of the northern coast) separates Knighton from its railway station, virtually cuts off Church Stoke from the rest of Wales, and slices straight through the village of Llanymynech (where a pub actually straddles the line).
2. Seas and coastline
The UK is washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the north-west, north and south-west, and is separated from the European continent by the North Sea, the Straight of Dover and the English Channel.
Britain is comparatively small, but there is hardly a country in the world where such a variety of scenery can be found in so small a compass. There are small and desolate mountains in the northern Highlands of Scotland -the home of the deer and the eagle - that are as lonely as any in Norway. There are flat tulip fields round the Fens (low marshy land with lots of waterways) that would make you think you were in Holland. Within a few miles of Manchester and Sheffield you can be in glorious heather-covered moors. Once the British Isles were part of the mainland of Europe - the nearest point is across the Strait of Dover, where the chalk cliffs of Britain are only 22 miles from those of France.
The seas round the British Isles are shallow. The North Sea is nowhere more than 600 feet deep, so that if St. Paul's cathedral where put down in any part of it some of the cathedral would still be above water. This shallowness is in some ways an advantage. Shallow water is warmer than deep water and helps to keep shores from extreme cold. It is, too, the home of millions of fish.
The coastline is very indented. This indentation gives a good supply of splendid harbours for ships. On the north-west the coasts are broken by high rocky cliffs. This is especially noticeable in north-west Scotland where you have long winding inlets and a great many slands.
In Scotland you have 3 distinct regions. There is the Highlands, then the central plain of Lowlands, finally there are the southern uplands with their gently rounded hills where the ship wander.
In England and Wales all the high land is in the west and north-west. The south-eastern plain reaches the west coast only at one or two places - at the Bristol Channel and by the mouths of the rivers Dee and Mersey.
In the north you find the Cheviots (a wool producing country in Britain), separating England from Scotland, the Pennines going down England like a backbone and the Cumbrian mountains of the Lake District, one of the loveliest and wettest parts of England. In the West are Cambrian mountains which occupy the greater part of Wales. The south-eastern part of England is a low-lying land with gentle hills and coast which is regular in outline, sandy or muddy, with occasional chalk cliffs, and inland a lovely pattern of green and gold - for most of England's wheat is grown here - and brown plough land with pleasant farms and cottages in their midst. Its rich brown soil is deeply cultivated - much of it is under wheat; fruit-growing is extensively carried on. A quarter of the sugar used in the country comes from sugar beet grown there, but the most important crop is potatoes.
The position of the mountains naturally determined the direction and length of the rivers, except the Severn and Clyde, flow into the North Sea. The rivers of Britain are of no great value as waterways - the longest, the Thames, is a little over 200 miles - and few of them are navigable except near the mouth for anything but the smaller vessels. In the estuaries of the Thames, Mersey, Tyne, Clyde, Tay, Forth, and Bristol Avon are some of the greatest ports.
The climate of the United Kingdom is classified as a mid-latitude oceanic climate, with warm summers, cool winters and plentiful precipitation throughout the year. The principal factors that influence the country's climate include its northerly latitude, the close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, and the warming of the surrounding waters by the Gulf Stream. The weather can be notoriously changeable from one day to the next but temperature variations throughout the year are relatively small.
The average total annual sunshine in the United Kingdom is 1339.7 hours, which is just under 30% of the maximum possible. The south coast of England often has the clearest skies because cumulus cloud formation generally takes place over land, and prevailing winds from the south-west keep this cloud from forming overhead. The counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex and Kent have annual average totals of around 1,750 hours of sunshine a year. Northern, western and mountainous areas are generally the cloudiest areas of the UK, with some mountainous areas receiving less than 1,000 hours of sunshine a year.
Average hours of sunshine in winter range from 38-108 hours in some mountainous areas and western Scotland, up to 217 hours in the south and east of England; while average hours of sunshine in summer range from 294-420 hours in northern Scotland and Northern Ireland, to 592-726 hours in southern English coastal counties. The most sunshine recorded in one month was 383.9 hours at Eastbourne (East Sussex) in July 1911.
Rainfall amounts can vary greatly across the United Kingdom and generally the further west and the higher the elevation, the greater the rainfall. The Lake District is one of the wettest places in the country with an average annual rainfall total that exceeds 2000 mm. The mountains of Wales, Scotland, the Pennines and the moors of the south-west of England are the wettest parts of the country, and in some of these places up to and exceeding 5000 mm of rain falls annually, making these locations some of the wettest in Europe.
Parts of England are surprisingly dry, which is contrary to the stereotypical view--London receives less rain annually than Rome, Sydney or New York. In East Anglia it typically rains on about 113 days per year. Most of the south, south-east and East Anglia receive less than 700 mm of rain per year. The English counties of Essex and Cambridgeshire are amongst the driest in the UK, with an average annual rainfall of around 600 mm. In some years rainfall totals in Essex can be below 450 mm--less than the average annual rainfall in Jerusalem and Beirut.
Parts of the United Kingdom have had severe drought problems in recent years, particularly in the south-east of England, which experienced the driest period on record in 2006. Fires broke out in many areas, even across the normally damp higher ground of north-west England and Wales. The landscape in much of England and east Wales became very parched, even near the coast; water restrictions were in place in some areas.
July 2006 was the hottest month on record for the United Kingdom and much of Europe, however England has had warmer spells of 31 days which did not coincide with a calendar month--in 1976 and 1995. As well as low rainfall, drought problems were made worse by the fact that the driest parts of the England also have the highest population density, and therefore highest water consumption. The drought problems ended in the period from October 2006 to January 2007, which had well above average rainfall.
Generally the United Kingdom has cool to mild winters and warm summers with moderate variation in temperature throughout the year. In England the average annual temperature varies from 8.5 °C in the north to 11 °C in the south, but over the higher ground this can be several degrees lower. This small variation in temperature is to a large extent due to the moderating effect the Atlantic ocean has--water has a much greater specific heat capacity than air tends to heat and cool slowly throughout the year. This has a warming influence on coastal areas in winter and a cooling influence in summer.
The floors of inland valleys away from warming influence of the sea can be particularly cold as cold, dense air drains into them. A temperature of ?26.1 °C was recorded under such conditions at Edgmond in Shropshire on 10 January 1982, the coldest temperature recorded in England and Wales. The following day the coldest maximum temperature in England, at ?11.3 °C, was recorded at the same site.
On average the warmest winter temperatures occur on the south and west coasts, Temperatures in these areas can rise to 15 °C in winter on rare occasions This is a particularly unusual event in northern Scotland, mainly Aberdeenshire, where these high temperatures can occur in midwinter with just a couple of hours of sunlight.
July is on average the warmest month, and the highest temperatures tend to occur away from the Atlantic in southern, eastern and central England, where summer temperatures can rise above 30 °C. It soared to 38.5 °C in Kent in the summer of 2003, the highest temperature ever recorded in the United Kingdom.
2006 saw unprecedented warmth, with many more records being broken. While the year started off around average, and even fell well below average in early-March, the period from mid-April onwards saw a lack of any cooler than average weather. Early-May and June saw temperatures 10-12 °C above average at times. July was the hottest month on record, with records stretching back hundreds of years; the highest maximum temperature for July was also broken in 2006. September was the warmest September on record and October was one of the warmest on record. November was also extremely mild, making it the warmest Autumn on record by some margin. May to October was also the warmest consecutive six months on record.
While the United Kingdom is not particularly noted for extreme weather, it does occur, and conditions have been known to reach extreme levels on occasions.
There have been occurrences of severe flash floods caused by intense rainfall, the most severe was the Lynmouth disaster of 1952 in which 34 people died and 38 houses and buildings were completely destroyed. In the summer of 2004, a severe flash flood devastated the town of Boscastle in Cornwall.
britain economic education culture
Lecture 2. Historical outline of the UK
1. The earliest period. The first inhabitants on the territory of the British Isles. The Celts
In prehistoric times Britain was joined to the rest of the continent. The first human inhabitants and many of the animal inhabitants came there over the dry land. Towards the end of the ice age the mighty prehistoric river which joined the present-day Thames with the Rhine overwhelmed the land joining Britain to the continent and formed the present-day English Channel. Immediately after its formation the Channel was too stormy and full of strong currents. That's why the hunters of the new-stone age crossed the sea to Britain to the west off the Channel and settles along the western shores in their search for food.
About 3 thousand years B.C. many parts of Europe in including the British Isle were inhabited by a people, who came to be known as the Iberians. Some of their descendants are still found in the north of Spain. They used stone weapons and tools. Soon after 2000 B.C. a new race of Alpine stock came from the east of Europe. This time they entered the country from the south-east and east. According to their essential features of their pottery they are known as Beakeafolk.
During the period from the 6th to the 3d century B.C., a people called the Celts spread across Europe from the east to the west. More than one Celtic tribe invaded Britain. From time to time one Celtic tribe was attacked and overcome by other tribes. Celtic tribes called the Picts came to the mountains on the North, some picts as well as tribes of Scots crossed over to Ireland and settled there.
Later on some Scots returned to the larger island and came in such large numbers that the whole territory was named Scotland after them. The most powerful and civilized tribe was the tribe of Britons, and as a result the southern half of the island which was inhabited by them was named Britain after them. The Celts were very unusual people. They were tall, with long fair hair, blue eyes, they wore moustaches. They could use make things from copper, tin and iron. They kept large herds of cattle and sheep which formed their chief wealth. The Briton's clothing was made of wool, woven in many colours while the other Celts wore skins.
The Celts were very good warriors. Not only a man but a woman could become a good warrior. The Celts could frighten an enemy not only by their war art, but by their severe look as well. They used to paint their hair, arms and legs red and blue in the time of war. As we've already mentioned the Celts lived in tribes. A chief was at the head of the tribe. In some places chiefs were called kings; usually the best and the most respectable warrior became a chief. The Celts were pagans. They believed in many gods. They thought rivers, lakes trees to be rules by beings like themselves, only much more powerful. They sacrificed not only animals but also human beings. The Celts believed in another life after death. They were taught by priests called druids that their souls passed after death from one body to another.
The druids were very important and powerful people. The Celts believed in their magic power and also believed that the druids were able to foretell the future. They were often called upon to settle disputes or solve family problems, even to begin or to stop warfare. There are some mysterious places on the territory of Britain connected with that period. The most famous one is Stonehenge, upright stones standing in groups of twos, 8,5 meters high, with flat stones on the top.
There are many versions to explain the origin of this place. According to one version Stonehenge used to be an ancient observatory, but another version tells that this place was connected with the religion of druids.
2. The Roman conquest
While the Celts were still living in tribes, the Romans were the most powerful people in the world. The Roman Empire was one of the strongest in the history and its society included slaves and slave-owners. The Romans were more civilized than the Celts and they were city-dwellers.
The Romans conquered all the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Julius Caesar who was the head of the Roman Army was sent to conquer Gaul (France). In the course of his campaigns Caesar reached the Channel and that was the first time when the Romans saw the white cliffs of the Br. Isles.
In 55 B.C. a Roman Army of 10000 men crossed the Channel to invade Britain. As the Celts saw the ships approaching they rushed to attack the army in the sea. They also fought them on foot and in chariots with loud shouts, red hair and moustaches, the arms legs painted blue. The well-armed Romans, being frightened had to return to Gaul. In the next year, 54 B.C. Julius Caesar came to Britain again. This time the army was much larger: 25000 men. The Romans were well-armed and trained. In spite of the fact that the Celts were very brave they were not strong enough to drive the Romans off. So, the Celts were defeated in several battles. Some of the chiefs submitted and promised to pay tribute to Rome.
Although Julius Caesar came to Britain twice in the course of two years, he was not able to conquer it. The real conquest of the country began many years after Caesar's visits to the island.
In 43 A.D. a Roman Army invaded Britain and conquered the South-East. Other parts of the country were taken from time to time during the next 40 years. The Celts fought fiercely against the Romans and the Romans never managed to become masters of the whole territory. They didn't manage to invade the Scottish Highlands. From time to time the Picts managed to raid the Roman part of the island, burn their villages and drive off their cattle and sheep.
As a result of the conquest there was a great influence of Roman civilization over the British Isles. The Romans were city-dwellers, and having conquered Britain they started building towns, villas, public baths. They built strong fortified walls to protect themselves from the attacks of the natives. Straight roads were built so that the legions might march quickly, whenever and wherever they were needed. In the course of time the Roman way of life was adopted by the chiefs and their surroundings. The Latin language penetrated into the speech of the natives. The words the Romans left in English are for the most part the names of the things which they taught the Celts. e.g.
street > strata
port > portus
wall > vallum
The names of many modern E. towns are of Latin origin too. The fortified Roman towns were called "castra" = "camps". This word can be found in such names as: Chester, Winchester, Manchester, Lancaster, Gloucester.
York, Gloucester, Lincoln and London became the chief Roman towns which grew up as markets and centres of administration. London became a centre of trade both by land and river.
The Romans were great builders and we may find ruins of their work all over Britain. Unfortunately a great part of their work perished because of the Anglo-Saxons who came after the Romans. The Anglo-Saxons were country-dwellers and they disliked towns. So, many magnificent Roman structures were ruined, but still some traces of Roman constructions are still alive.
The Romans remained in Britain for about 4 centuries. In the 3-4th centuries the power of the Roman Empire weakened. In the 5th century the Romans had to return to their own country to defend the Roman Empire from the attacks of the barbarian tribes. They didn't return to Britain, and the Celts were left alone.
3. The Anglo-Saxon conquest
After the Romans' leaving the Celts remained independent but not for long. Germanic tribes, such as the Jutes, the Saxons and the Angles began to migrate to Britain. At first they only came to plunder, but they returned again and again and the invasion began. In the 449 the Jutes landed in Kent and this was the beginning of the conquest. The British natives fought fiercely and it took the invaders more than a hundred and fifty years to conquer the country. The final refuge of the Celts was Cornwall and Wales, the northern part of the island (Scotland), where the Celts were still living in tribes, and, later on, some independent states were formed. The Celts, of Ireland remained independent too.
During the conquest many Celts were killed or taken prisoners and made slaves, or had to pay tribute to the conquerors.
The life under new masters was very hard and differed in many ways from the life under the Romans. The new comers were country-dwellers. They disliked towns preferring to live in small villages. So, many roman towns, villas, were destroyed in the course of the conquest. The majority of the population lived in villages, where most of the necessities were produced (food, clothing, tools). There was almost no communication between the villages. There were only muddy tracks between one village and another one. A person might live in his own village all his life but without moving anywhere and very often without an idea what was going on in the world.
By the end of the 6th century and the beginning of the 7th century the Saxons formed a number of kingdoms: Sussex (the land of the south Saxons), Wessex (the land of the West Saxons), and Essex (the land of the East Saxons). In the north the Angles founded Northumbria. These kingdoms were very hostile to one another. Looking at the map we may find names of E. towns ending in 'ton' (a Saxon word, means 'hedge' or a place surrounded by the hedge).
E.g. Southampton, Brighton, Preston.
'Burgh' or 'bury' was the Saxon for to 'hide'. There are many village- and town-names derived from the words: Canterbury, Edinburgh, Salisbury.
The Anglo-Saxon 'ham', a form of the word 'home' can also be found in such name as: Nottingham, Birmingham, Cheltenham.
The Angles, the Jutes and the Saxons were closely akin to each other in speech, manners, and way of life and as a result in a course of time they merged into one people. The name of Jutes died out and the whole period is usually known as the period of Anglo-Saxon invasion.
The Anglo-Saxons made up the majority of the population. Their customs, religion and language became predominant. They called the Celts 'welsh' which means 'foreigners' as they could not understand the Celtic language. But gradually the Celts which were in the minority adopted their customs and learned to speak their languages. Only the Celts who remained independent in the West, Scotland and Ireland spoke their native language.
In the course of time all the people of Britain were referred to as the English after the Angles and the new name of England was given to the whole country. Their language was called the English language.
The Anglo-Saxons lived in communities. The life wasn't easy but the strong of the Anglo-Saxons was the arable-farming, a system of 2 or 3 fields. While one field was used, another one was waiting for its turn. The field was divided into stripes. Each family got stripes of both good and not very good land. Besides the community possessed forests, rivers, meadows, lakes, and the thing and the animals which were picked up or caught there might be used by any member of the community. Tools were usually common; the chiefs decided when and how to use them, what to grow. The results of the common labour were equally shared among the members of the community, but the equality didn't last for long. The signs of inequality could be seen even before the Anglo-Saxon invasion. Some archeological researches show how rich the tribal chiefs became in the course of the conquest.
By the end of the 6th century the inequality became quite noticeable. In the 7th-9th centuries the arable land held by families became their private property. Now it could be inherited, sold, presented or given in turn for debts to another owner.
Many peasants were losing their land and freedom because of the frequent raids and wars in the course of which they lost almost everything and had nothing to do but to go to the landowner to ask for protection. The land then would be given back to them but they were no owners of their land, they held it only and in return they had to cultivate the lord's field and give him a part of their harvest and promise to follow him in a battle. Besides, the Anglo-Saxon nobles began to seize the land of the free communities to make the free peasants work for them.
Thus, in the 7th-8th centuries feudal relations were beginning to develop, that is a class of rich landowners and the free peasants, gradually losing their land and freedom. The Christian church also influenced the growth of the new-feudal relations. The conversion of Anglo-Saxons to Christianity began at the end of the 6th century (597) and was over in the 2nd half of the 7th century. Before this the Angles, Saxons and Jutes were pagans. They worshipped the sun and the moon, the sea, springs and trees. Their believes were reflected in many things that surrounded them.
E.g. the Anglo-Saxons named the days of the week after their gods:
Sunday - the Sun's day
Monday = the Moon's day
Tuesday = the day of the god of darkness Tuesco
Wednesday = the day of the god of war Woden
Thursday = the day of the god of thunder Thor
Friday = the day of the goddess of peace and plenty Freya
Saturday = the day of a Roman god Saturn
Paganism has developed in a primitive Anglo-Saxon society. With the beginning of feudal relations kings and lords needed a new religion, teaching the peasants obedience and showing that this order of society in which the peasants had to work for their master had been established by god.
The religion that was to serve the interests of the rich Anglo-Saxons was Christianity. Besides teaching people some moral qualities, it promised them a happy life after death. Many churches and monasteries were built. There were held services, books were brought and the Latin language was heard again. People became more educated. The Christian religion had a tremendous influence over men's minds and actions. It controlled the most important events of their life: baptism, marriage and burial. The churchmen who became rich landowners themselves did their utmost to preach up the king, to justify the exploitation of the peasants and the power of the great landlords over them.
4 centuries later the Danes began to disturb the country. First they came in spring and summer only to plunder but they returned home for the winter. Every year they went to different places. Thus all the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms faced the same dangerous enemy, but nobody could catch them, as there were no sea guards and other kinds of protection. The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were too busy struggling against each other. But before the danger of the new invasion the problem of the unification came urgent. The first raids on Britain began in 793. In a course of time the Danes managed to take York and then the whole Yorkshire and East Anglia. At last all England north of the Thames was in their hands. It was not easy to stop such an enemy but Wessex was not ready to gield. Under the reign of King Alfred (871-899) the small Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were united.
Alfred managed to raise an army and to stop the offensive of the Danes. He made new rules for the army, in which every free man had to serve and to come provided with the proper weapons. During the reign of Alfred the Great the first British Navy was built and a war fleet of ships larger and faster than those of the Danes protected the island. Besides, many places that could be attacked by the enemy were fortified. As a result the Anglo-Saxons won several victories over the Danes. At the end of the 9th century new Danish attacks were made but there were beaten off.
In time of peace Alfred took measures to improve the laws in the interests of the landlords and to raise the standard of culture among them. He invited people from the continent to teach the Anglo-Saxons different crafts and arts. The churches and the monasteries ruined by the Danes were rebuilt. Alfred wanted all the priests and the officials to know Latin (the books and services were in Latin).
A school was organized in the palace itself where the sons of the nobles learned to read and write. Alfred himself taught there. Almost all the books were in Latin at that time and people couldn't read them. That's why some translations into Anglo-Saxon were made.
Alfred offered to begin writing a history of England - known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which was continued for 250 years after Alfred's death. Also under the supervision of Alfred a Code of English Law was drawn up.
4. Great Britain after WWII
Winston Churchill again became Prime Minister. His third government -- after the wartime national government and the short caretaker government of 1945 --lasted until his resignation in 1955. During this period he renewed what he called the "special relationship" between Britain and the United States, and engaged himself in the formation of the post-war order.
However, he paid more attention to international policy, than to domestic affairs. A series of foreign policy crises happened because of the continued decline of British military and imperial prestige and power.
1. Anglo-Iranian Oil Dispute was one of the problems the UK faced. (In March 1951, the Iranian parliament wanted to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Churchill wanted to undermine the Iranian government created political and economic blockade of Iran, which led to the coup plots in the country.)
2. The Mau Mau Rebellion of 1951 in Kenya (the Kenya Africa Union demanded greater representation and land reform. When these demands were rejected, more radical elements came in power, Mau Mau rebellion began. On 17 August 1952, a state of emergency was declared, and British troops were flown to Kenya to deal with the rebellion. As both sides increased their attacks, the country moved to full-scale civil war.)
3. Malaya Emergency. In Malaysia, a rebellion against British rule had been in progress since 1948. Churchill chose to use direct military action against those in rebellion and tried to build an alliance with those who were not. He approved the creation of fortified villages, a tactic that became a part of Western military strategy in South-East Asia. (Vietnam War).
5. The Suez Canal conflict
In April 1955, Churchill finally retired, and Sir Anthony Eden became Prime Minister. Eden was a very popular figure, as a result of his long wartime service and also his famous good looks and charm. He immediately called a general election, at which the Conservative party returned in power. But Sir Anthony had little experience in economic matters and concentrated largely on foreign policy, forming a close alliance with U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower.
This alliance was not a success which was proved during the Suez Canal conflict. In 1956 Sir Anthony, together with France, tried to prevent the nationalising of the Suez Canal, which had been owned since the 19th century by Britain and France.
In October 1956, after months of negotiation Britain, France and Israel, invaded Egypt and occupied the Suez Canal Zone. But Eisenhower strongly opposed the invasion. The U.S. President was for decolonisation, because it would liberate colonies, strengthen U.S. interests, and make other Arab and African leaders more sympathetic to the United States. Also, the Soviet Union threatened to drop nuclear bombs on Paris or London unless Britain and France withdrew. Eisenhower feared another global war. When the UK asked for financial help, Eisenhower stated that Britain would have to pull-out before the US would provide any more financial aid to Britain. Eden was forced to withdraw. The Suez Crisis is widely taken as marking the end of Britain (along with France) as a World power.
6. Britain in 1957 - 1979
Eden's Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan became Prime Minister in January 1957. The economy was his prime concern. Macmillan also took close control of foreign policy. He worked to create better relationship with the USA after Suez conflict, and his wartime friendship with Dwight D. Eisenhower was useful. The better relationship remained after the John F. Kennedy became President. During Macmillan office many colonies became free. His "wind of change" speech (February 1960) indicated his policy. Ghana and Malaya were granted independence in 1957, Nigeria in 1960 and Kenya in 1963. However in the Middle East Macmillan wanted Britain to remain a force -- he invaded Iraq in 1958 and 1960, and becoming involved in Oman.
Harold Wilson and Edward Heath
In 1964, Labour party came into power with Harold Wilson as Prime Minister. During his first period of office, Wilson's government set up the Open University which is regarded as his greatest achievement. Overseas, Wilson was troubled by crises in several of Britain's former colonies, especially Rhodesia and South Africa. Wilson gave diplomatic support but resisted pressure for military support to the United States in the Vietnam War.
The premiership of his successor Sir Edward Heath was the bloodiest in the history of the Northern Ireland Troubles. He was prime minister at the time of Bloody Sunday in 1972 when 14 unarmed men were killed by British soldiers during an illegal march in Londonderry City.
Heath's major achievement as prime minister was to take Britain into the European Economic Community in 1973. However great inflation led him into confrontation with some of the most powerful trade unions, and because of the energy shortages the country's industry worked a three-day week to conserve power.
Neither he, nor his successors labour PM's were able to fight the economic crisis in the country. The Conservatives ran a campaign on the slogan "Labour isn't working." As expected, Margaret Thatcher won the election.
7. Margaret Thatcher
Thatcher formed a government on May 4, 1979, promising to reverse the UK's economic decline and to reduce the role of the state in the economy.
In economic policy, Thatcher started increased interest rates to drive down the money supply. Value added tax (VAT) rose sharply to 15% and the inflation also rose. These moves hit businesses, especially in the manufacturing sector, and unemployment quickly passed two million. Unemployment continued to rise, peaking at a figure of more than 3.2 million.
British defense budget was cut, the Falkland Islands defense was disregarded, and immigration reform was passed (the citizens of the few remaining British colonies did not have the same rights as the citizens of the UK) - all this was the most difficult foreign policy decision of Thatcher's era.
In Argentina, an unstable military junta was in power and on April 2, 1982, it invaded the Falkland Islands, the only invasion of a British territory since World War II. Thatcher sent a naval task force to recapture the Islands. The ensuing military campaign was successful, resulting in a wave of patriotic enthusiasm for her personally. Additionally, Thatcher's 'Right to Buy' policy, when people were permitted to buy their homes at a discount did much to increase her government's popularity in working-class areas.
Thatcher aimed at reducing the power of the trade unions. Several unions went on strikes that were aimed at damaging her politically. The most significant of these was carried out by the National Union of Mineworkers. However, Thatcher had made preparations long in advance for an NUM strike by building up coal stocks, and there were no cuts in electric power, unlike 1972.
(Police tactics during the strike concerned civil libertarians: stopping suspected strike sympathisers travelling towards coalfields when they were still long distances from them, phone tapping, and a violent battle with mass pickets at Orgreave. But images of massed militant miners using violence to prevent other miners from working, along with the fact that (illegally under a recent Act) the NUM had not held a ballot to approve strike action, swung public opinion against the strike).
The Miners' Strike lasted a full year, 1984-85, before of half the miners went back to work and the NUM leadership gave in without a deal. This failed political strike marked a turning point in UK politics: no longer could militant unions remove a democratically elected government.
Under Thatcher, the Hong Kong (the only remaining British territory in Asia) was transferred to China in 1997.
On the early morning of October 12, 1984, Thatcher escaped death (on the day before her 59th birthday) from the bomb placed by the Irish Republican Army in Brighton's Grand Hotel during the Conservative Party conference. Five people died in the attack. Thatcher insisted that the conference open on time the next day and made her speech as planned.
On November 15, 1985, Thatcher signed the Hillsborough Anglo-Irish Agreement, the first acknowledgement by a British government that the Republic of Ireland had an important role to play in Northern Ireland. But it did little to reduce IRA violence.
Thatcher's political and economic philosophy emphasised free markets and entrepreneurialism. After the 1983 election, the Government became sold off most of the large utilities which had been in public ownership since the late 1940s. The policy of privatisation has become synonymous with Thatcherism.
In the Cold War, Mrs Thatcher supported Ronald Reagan's policies against the Soviets. US forces were permitted by Mrs. Thatcher to station nuclear cruise missiles at British bases, arousing mass protests by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. However, she later was the first Western leader to respond warmly to the rise of reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, declaring she liked him and "We can do business together" after a meeting three months before he came to power in 1985.
She supported the US bombing raid on Libya from bases in the UK in 1986 when other NATO allies did not.
By winning the 1987 general election, on the economic boom and against an anti-nuclear Labour opposition, she became the longest serving Prime Minister of the UK since Lord Liverpool (1812-1827), and first to win three successive elections since Lord Palmerston in 1865.
Most UK newspapers supported her -- with the exception of The Daily Mirror and The Guardian -- and were rewarded with regular press briefings by her press secretary. She was known as "Maggie" in the tabloids, which inspired the well-known "Maggie Out!" protest song, sung throughout that period by some of her opponents. Her unpopularity on the left is evident from the lyrics of several contemporary popular songs: "Stand Down Margaret", "Tramp the Dirt Down", and "Mother Knows Best".
In the late 1980s, Thatcher, a former chemist, became concerned with environmental issues. In 1988, she made a major speech accepting the problems of global warming, ozone depletion and acid rain. In 1990, she opened the Hadley Centre for climate prediction and research.
Although she had supported British membership, Thatcher believed that the role of the EC should be limited to free trade and effective competition, and feared that new EC regulations would reverse the changes she was making in the UK.. She was specifically against Economic and Monetary Union, through which a single currency would replace national currencies, and for which the EC was making preparations.
Thatcher's popularity once again declined in 1989 due to the introduction of the Poll Tax. (a tax paid as the same sum of money by every individual resident, with only limited discounts for low earners.) A large London demonstration against the poll tax on March 31, 1990 -- the day before it was introduced in England and Wales -- turned into a riot. Millions of people resisted paying the tax. Mrs Thatcher refused to compromise, or change the tax, and its unpopularity was a major factor in Thatcher's downfall.
8. Tony Blair
Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997 after the victory over the Conservative Party. He served as the Prime Minister of the UK from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007, the Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. With victories in 1997, 2001, and 2005, Blair was the Labour Party's longest-serving prime minister, the only person to lead the party to three consecutive general election victories. Under the title of New Labour, he promised economic and social reform. Early policies of the Blair government included the minimum wage and university tuition fees. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown also gave the Bank of England the power to set the base rate of interest autonomously.
In domestic government policy, Blair significantly increased public spending on health and education while also introducing controversial market-based reforms in these areas. Blair has raised taxes; introduced some new employment rights; introduced significant constitutional reforms (which remain incomplete and controversial); promoted new rights for gay people in the Civil Partnership Act 2004; and signed treaties integrating Britain more closely with the EU, and introduced tough anti-terrorism and identity card legislation.
His contribution towards assisting the Northern Ireland Peace Process by helping to negotiate the Good Friday Agreement after 30 years of conflict was widely recognised.
Tony Blair has been criticised for his alliance with U.S. President George W. Bush and his policies in the Middle East, including the Iraq War, the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Blair is also criticised for an alleged tendency to spin important information in a way that can be misleading. Blair is the first ever Prime Minister of the UK to have been formally questioned by police officers whilst in office, although he was not under caution when interviewed.
Critics also regard Tony Blair as having eroded civil liberties and increased social authoritarianism, by increasing police powers, in the form of more arrestable offences, DNA recording. His style was sometimes criticised as not that of a prime minister and head of government, which he was, but of a president and head of state, which he was not.
While evaluations of Blair's skills as a parliamentarian differ, he is acknowledged to be a highly skillful media performer in other contexts, appearing modern, charismatic, informal and articulate. Perhaps his best known television appearance was his tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales on the morning of her death in August 1997, in which he famously described her as "the People's Princess".
On 10 May 2007, Blair announced during a speech his intention to resign as both Labour Party leader and Prime Minister the following June. On June 24 he formally handed over the leadership of the Labour Party to Gordon Brown at a special party conference in Manchester. Blair handed in his resignation as Prime Minister of the UK to the Queen on 27 June 2007, his successor Gordon Brown assumed office the same afternoon. He also resigned his seat in the House of Commons.
9. Brown as Prime Minister
Brown became the Prime Minister of the UK on 27 June 2007. Like all Prime Ministers. Brown has proposed to give some traditional powers of a Prime Minister to Parliament, such as the power to declare war ,he wants parliament to have the right to ratify treaties and have more oversight into the intelligence services. He has also proposed moving some powers from Parliament to citizens, including the right to form "citizen's juries" and to petition Parliament for new laws.
During his Labour leadership campaign, Brown proposed some policy initiatives:
· End to corruption. Following the cash for honours scandal, Brown emphasised cracking down on corruption.
· Constitutional reform Brown has not stated if he proposes a U.S.-style written constitution - something the UK has never had. He said in a speech that he wants a “better constitution” that is “clear about the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen in Britain today.' Brown has said he will give Parliament the final say on whether British troops are sent into action in future.
· Housing. House planning restrictions are likely to be relaxed. Brown said he wants to release more land and ease access to ownership with shared equity schemes. He backed a proposal to build five new eco-towns, each housing between 10,000 and 20,000 homeowners -- up to 100,000 new homes in total.
· Health. Brown intends to have doctors' surgeries open at the weekends, and GPs on call in the evenings. Brown stated that the NHS was his "top priority", yet he had just cut the capital budget of the English NHS from Ј6.2bn to Ј4.2bn.
Foreign policy. Brown remains committed to the Iraq War, but said in a speech in May 2007 that he would "learn the lessons" from the mistakes made in Iraq.
"We will not allow people to separate us from the United States of America in dealing with the common challenges that we face around the world. I think people have got to remember that the relationship between Britain and America and between a British prime minister and an American president is built on the things that we share, the same enduring values about the importance of liberty, opportunity, the dignity of the individual. I will continue to work, as Tony Blair did, very closely with the American administration."
Lecture 3. Population
1. Natural growth
The people who now inhabit the British Isles are descended mainly from the people who inhabited them nearly 9 cent ago. The English nation was formed as a result of the amalgamation of the native population of the Br. Isles with the invaders.
Located as they are on a group of islands close to Continental Europe, the lands now constituting the United Kingdom have been subject to many invasions and migrations, especially from Scandinavia and the continent, including Roman occupation for several centuries. Present day Britons are descended mainly from the varied ethnic stocks that settled there before the eleventh century. The pre-Celtic, Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Norse influences were blended on Great Britain under the Normans, Scandinavian Vikings who had lived in Northern France. Between the various constituent countries, there has been sufficient internal migration to mix the population.
Today in England, Wales. Scotland and N. Ireland, English is the language predominately spoken. In Wales, however. Welsh, a form of British Celtic, is spoken by some 20 per cent of the population. In Scotland over 80000 people speak the Scottish form of Gaelic A few families in N. Ireland still speak the Irish form of Gaelic
For centuries the British governments promoted the spread of English at the expense of other languages. Moreover, at times it was strictly forbidden to study any of the languages of the minorities living on the British Isles. Today some of the country's ethnic minorities formed as a result of recent immigration have their own languages, normally as well as English.
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