The United Kingdom of Great Britain

Introduction of geographic location, climatic conditions of Great Britain, its political and economic systems. History of the British Kingdom: decision Magna Carta, Industrial Revolution, the first census, the introduction of a democratic regime.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 04.10.2010
Размер файла 36,2 K

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Marked improvements in the standard of living for people in Britain have taken place during the 20th century. According to a United Nations report published in 1994, Britain ranked tenth out of 173 countries on a human development index that combines life expectancy, education levels and basic purchasing power.

Earnings from employment remain the main source of household income for most people, although other sources such as private pensions and annuities have become more important Disposable income - the amount of money people have available to spend after income tax, National Insurance and contributions to pension schemes have been deducted - is now at its highest-ever level. Since the 1970s there has been little change in the distribution of marketable wealth, nearly half of which is owned by the richest 10 per cent of people. A large proportion of personal wealth in Britain - 30 per cent in 1993 - is in residential property. The Government's privatisation programme has contributed to the growth of share ownership, hi 1993 about 10 million people - 22 per cent of the adult population of Great Britain -owned shares, compared with 7 per cent in 1979.

Average weekly household spending in Britain in 1994-95 was about ?284. Food and housing costs constituted 18 and 16 per cent of this. Transport and leisure pursuits accounted for about 15 and 16 per cent.


Largely depending on their means, people 111 Britain live in a diverse range of accommodation ranging from country mansions to single rooms or hostels in the inner cities. The majority, however, live in houses and (to a lesser extent) flats, either as owner-occupiers or as tenants paving rent. About 19 per cent of houses are detached, 31 per cent are semi-detached and 29 per cent are terraced. Purpose-built flats or maisonettes make up 15 per cent of the housing stock and converted flats or rooms account for 5 per cent.

Owner-occupation, which is central to government housing policy in Britain, increased substantially - from 49 per cent to 67 per cent - between 1971 and 1994. The number of owner-occupied homes amounted to 15.8 million at the end of 1993, compared with 4.1 million in 1950. Most people buy their homes with a mortgage loan, with the property as security. Building societies are the largest source of such loans, although banks and other financial institutions also take a significant share of the mortgage market. There arc some 5 million houses and in the public housing sector. Most of the public housing in Great Britain is provided by local housing authorities. Thirty-seven per cent of local authority tenants live in purpose-built flats or maisonettes, 33 per cent in terraced houses and 25 per cent in semi-detached houses. Most have the right to buy the homes they occupy if they wish.

Housing associations, which are non-profit-making, are now the main providers of additional low-cost housing for rent and for sale to those on low incomes and in the greatest housing need. The housing association sector is expanding rapidly; associations now own, manage and maintain over 950,000 homes and about 65,000 hostel and special needs bed-spaces in Great Britain, providing homes for well over a million people.

Almost 10 per cent of households are rented from private landlords.


The most common leisure activities among people in Britain are home-based, or social, such as visiting relatives or friends.

Watching television is by far the most popular leisure pastime. Nearly every household has a television set, and average viewing time is over 25 hours a week. The majority of households also have a video recorder.

Other regular pastimes include listening to the radio and to recorded music. About 70 per cent of the population listen to local and national radio on an average day. Purchases of compact discs have risen very rapidly, and in 1992 for the first time exceeded the sales of audio cassettes. The proportion of households with a compact disc player increased from 15 per cent in 1989 to 39 per cent in 1993.

Many people in their spare time enjoy reading (over 50 per cent belong to a library), gardening, do-it-yourself home improvements, undertaking voluntary work, going out for a meal or drink (see Eating and Drinking Habits on p.27) or to the cinema. More daily newspapers, national and regional, are sold for every person in Britain than in most other developed countries. On an average day 60 percent of people over the age of 15 read a national morning paper; 70 per cent read a Sunday newspaper.

The British are renowned as animal lovers, and about half of all households have a pet, most commonly dogs and cats.


In 1994, 60 per cent of the adult population took at least one holiday of four or more nights away from home. Nearly 58 million such holidays were taken by British residents, 31.5 million of them within Britain. The most popular destinations for summer holidays in Britain are the West Country, Scotland and Wales. August is the most popular month for taking holidays.

Of the major free seaside attractions, the most frequented were Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Lancashire (with an estimated 7.2 million visitors), the Palace Pier in Brighton and the Pleasure Beach at Great Yarmouth. In 1994 the most popular destinations for overseas holidays by British residents were France (12 per cent), mainland Spain (11 per cent) and the United States (8 per cent), hi all, British residents took 26.3 million holidays overseas in 1994, of which 57 per cent involved 'package1 arrangements (covering both transport and accommodation). About 77 per cent of all holidays abroad are taken in Europe.

The proportion of adults taking two or more holidays a year was 26 per cent in 1994.


Although some traditional meals in Britain, like roast beef and Yorkshire pudding or fish and chips, remain popular, there has been a significant shift in eating habits among the population over the last decade or so. This is in part due to a greater emphasis on health and convenience considerations.

Consumption of several items, such as packet sugar, eggs, potatoes and fresh green vegetables, has declined substantially. An increase in the consumption of rice and pasta may be partly responsible for the decline in that of potatoes. Consumption of meat - with the exception of that of poultry which is now at a record level - has also fallen. Skimmed milk now constitutes more than half of the total household consumption of liquid milk. There has been a decline in the total consumption of cooking and spreading fats, with large falls in butter and lard usage being offset by rapid rises in the consumption of vegetable and salad oils and reduced fat spreads. A switch in fish consumption away from fresh white fish towards canned fish and shellfish has been evident. There has been a small increase in the intake of fibre.

Britain has a wide range of restaurants, offering cuisine from virtually every country. Chinese, Indian, Italian and Greek restaurants are among the most popular.

There has been little change in recent years in the amount of alcohol that people drink. Beer, including lager, is the most popular drink among male drinkers, whose overall alcohol consumption is significantly higher than that of women. The largest consumers of alcohol are in the 18 to 24 age range. Table wine has become more popular, although there has been little change in the consumption of stronger wines such as sherry and port.


There is widespread participation in sport among people in Britain. An estimated 29 million people over the age of 16 regularly take part in sports or exercise. The most popular are walking (including rambling and hiking), swimming, snooker /pool, keep fit / yoga and cycling. Women's participation has grown significantly over the last few us, even into traditionally male-dominated activities like football and rugby. Many sports, such as athletics, boxing and football, have also been successful in attracting considerable numbers of participants from the ethnic minorities.

The integration in sport of people with disabilities is increasingly encouraged and organisations throughout Britain promote and develop such opportunities.

All schools (except those solely for infants) are expected to have a playing field or the use of one, and most secondary schools have a gymnasium. Some have other amenities such as swimming pools and sports halls.


English is the main language spoken in Britain, although with many regional variations in terms of accent and phraseology. It is also one of the most widely used in the world; recent estimates suggest that over 310 million people speak it as their first language, with a similar number speaking it as a second language. Modern English derives primarily from one of the dialects of Anglo-Saxon, but has been very greatly influenced by other languages over time.

About 19 per cent of the population of Wales speak the Welsh language, which is of Celtic origin. They are concentrated in the rural north and west, where Welsh remains the first language of most of the population. Both the Government and voluntary groups have taken steps to revive the use of Welsh. Bilingual education in schools is encouraged and there has been an extended use of Welsh for official purposes and in broadcasting. In the context of dealing with public authorities and the administration of justice in Wales, Welsh and English are treated on an equal basis.

Gaelic, also a language of Celtic origin, is still spoken by some 70,000 people in Scotland; the greatest concentration of Gaelic speakers is in the islands of the Hebrides. People in the central lowlands of Scotland have for centuries spoken Scots, a dialect derived from the Northumbrian branch of Old English. This has its own recognised literary tradition and has seen a revival in poetry in the 20th century. Many words and phrases from the Scots tongue are retained in the everyday English which is spoken throughout Scotland.

Many other languages are spoken by the ethnic minority communities living in Britain.

All children in Britain up to the age of 16 must by law receive full-time education. Around 94 per cent of pupils get free education from public funds. The rest attend fee-paying independent schools. Boys and girls are taught together in most schools.

In England and Wales non-selective comprehensive education caters for children of all abilities. Nearly all pupils in Scotland attend non-selective schools. Secondary schools are largely selective in Northern Ireland, where a small number of integrated schools have been established at primary and secondary levels with the aim of providing education for Roman Catholic and Protestant children studying together.

Broadly based national curricula ensure that pupils study a balanced range of subjects. In Wales the Welsh language forms part of the national curriculum. Schools in England and Wales may also teach the main ethnic minority community languages at secondary level. Religious education is available in all schools, although parents have the right to withdraw their children from such classes.

Pupils aged 16 are normally assessed by the General Certificate of Secondary Education examination (or the Scottish Certificate of Education). Students who choose to continue their studies after 16 - about two-thirds - work for academic or vocational qualifications which are the main standard for entry to higher education or professional training.

Higher education is study above Advanced level or equivalent. The proportion of young people entering higher education in universities and colleges has risen from one in eight in 1979 to almost one in three today.

1999-95 there were over 1.5 million students in higher education courses, of whom 49 per cent were women. Overseas students at publicly funded higher education institutions numbered 158,000.

In 1994-95 more than 3.5 million people were enrolled on further and adult education courses, which are largely work-related and vocational. Many attend on a part-time basis or during the evenings.


Everyone in Britain has the right to religious freedom without interference from the community or the State. Religious organisations and groups can own property, run schools and actively promote their beliefs. There is no religious bar to the holding of public office.

There are two established churches in Britain, that is, churches legally recognised as official churches of the State: in England the (Anglican) Church of

England, and in Scotland the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland. Other Anglican churches are the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church of Ireland.

Attendances at Church of England services on a normal Sunday are around 1.1 million. Many people in Britain who rarely, if ever, attend services still regard themselves as belonging to the Church of England. The majority of the Church's clergy - men and women - are involved in parish ministry. The adult communicant membership of the Church of Scotland is about 715,600.

Free churches - a term used to describe some of the Protestant churches which are not established churches - include the Methodists, Baptists, and United Reformed Church. Of these, the Methodists have the largest following. Other Protestant churches in Britain include the Unitarians and Free Christians, as well as the Pentecostalists. About one British citizen in 10 claims to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Many Christian communities of foreign origin - for example, the Lutheran, Orthodox and Reformed Churches of various European countries -have also established their own centres of worship.

Although Britain is predominantly Christian, most of the world's religions an-represented, including Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Sikh communities. The Muslim population is the largest non-Christian grouping in the country.

A number of organisations, such as the Inter-Faith Network for the United Kingdom and the Council of Christians and Jews, exist to develop relations between different religions in Britain.


People in Britain have widespread access to the arts, which cover drama, music, opera, dance, cinema and visual arts. Nearly 17 million people attended events in one or more of the major art forms in 1994.

About 650 professional arts festivals take place in towns and cities across Britain each year. The better known arts festivals, some of which are celebrations of national cultures, include the Edinburgh International Festival, which is the largest of its kind in the world; the Mayfest in Glasgow; the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales; the National Gaelic Mod in Scotland; and the Belfast Festival based at Queen's University in Northern Ireland. London is recognised as one of the world's leading cultural centres, and Britain has an impressive list of renowned professional performers.

Pop and rock music is by far the most popular form of musical expression in Britain. British groups continue to achieve international success and are often at the forefront of new developments in music.

As well as being spectators of the arts, many people are also keen participants. There are thousands of amateur dramatic societies, and performances by amateur musicians lake place in all kinds of venues throughout Britain. An estimated 6 million people take part in dance, making it one of Britain's leading participatory activities. Educational and recreational classes for interests such as drawing, painting and crafts are heavily subscribed.

There are about 1,800 cinema screens in Britain and attendances are currently running at 1.9 million a week. Cinema admissions in 1994 were estimated at 124 million - twice as many as in 1984.

About 80 million people a year attend more than 2,000 museums and galleries open to the public, which include the major national collections, and around 1,100 independent museums.


Britain has a long tradition of conservation, and for many years has had policies and laws to protect both the natural environment and among people in Britain is reflected in the growing membership of these voluntary bodies. 101 example, the National Trust - a charity which owns and protects 230 historic houses open to the public, in addition to over 235,000 hectares of land in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland has its own National Trust) - now has over 2 million members. Another organisation, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, is the largest voluntary wildlife conservation body in Europe.

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