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The United Kingdom. Geography and Climate

To the west of the continent of Europe lie two large islands called the British Isles. The larger of these, consisting of England, Scotland and Wales, is known as Great Britain. The smaller island is Ireland, with Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. To the British Isles belong also some 5,500 smaller islands. The area of the British Isles is 121,600 square miles. The population of Great Britain is about 56 million.

The west coast is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea, its east coast – by the North Sea, and the south coast – by the English Channel, the narrower part of which is called the Strait of Dover.

England is the southern and central part of Great Britain. Scotland is in the north of the island, and Wales in the west. Northern Ireland is situated in the north-eastern part of Ireland. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with a total area of 94,212 square miles.

Mountains are an important part of the geography of a country. The British Isles have no high mountains. Scotland is a mountainous country, especially in the north. Here the main chain of mountains is called the Grampians and its highest peak is Ben Nevis, which is 4,400 feet high and is the highest peak in Britain. In the north we can see the Cheviot Hills, separating England from Scotland . In England the Pennine Chain runs down from the north through the centre. In Wales there are the Cumbrian Mountains, the highest peak of which is Snowdown, in North Wales. It is 3,000 feet high. The Cumbrian Mountains are famous for the number and beauty of their lakes. There are sixteen lakes here, the largest being Windermere. This part of the country, called the Lake District, is the most beautiful and the wettest part of Great Britain. The largest lakes in Scotland are Loch Lomond and Loch Ness.

The British Isles have many rivers, but they are not very long. The longest of the English rivers is the Severn, which flows south-west into the Irish Sea. The Thames flows through rich agricultural and industrial districts. Scotland’s most important river is the Clyde, on which stands Glasgow. Many of the English and Scottish rivers are joined by canals, so that it is possible to travel by water from one end of Great Britain to the other.

There are no great forests in the British Isles today. Historically, the most famous forest is Sherwood Forest, in the east of England, north of London. It was the home of Robin Hood.

The climate of the British Isles is generally mild, not very cold in winter and never hot in summer. The rivers do not freeze in winter, and snow never lies on the ground for long, except in the north, especially in the highlands of Scotland. Sheep and cattle can find food in the meadows all the year round. All parts of the British Isles have a lot of rain in all seasons. In winter, thick fogs cover many parts of Britain. The British Isles are warmed by the Gulf Stream.

The mild and damp climate in the British Isles is very good for agriculture, especially for vegetable-farming, sheep and cattle-farming. Great Britain is more an industrial than an agricultural country. Britain is rich in coal and iron. Next to coal and iron the main minerals found in Great Britain are marble, granite, slate, lead, tin, copper, zinc, salt and china-clay. Gas is found in the North Sea. London, Liverpool and Glasgow are the biggest English ports, Manchester, Birmingham, Edingburgh are main industrial centres. Oxford and Cambridge are main university towns.



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