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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Great Britain is situated on the British Isles which are to the north-west of Europe. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and about five thousand small islands.

Britain, formally known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, comprises England, Wales, Scotland and the northern part of Ireland. Their capitals are London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast respectively. The capital of the UK is London.

The British Isles are separated from the European continent by the North Sea and the English Channel. The western coast of Great Britain is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea.

The United Kingdom's area is some 244,000 square km, of which 99% is land and the remainder is inland water. With over 57 million people Great Britain ranks about fourteenth in the world in terms of population. The high density of population sets up a problem of land use and resources. The problems of supporting such a large population on such a small land area are obvious. In fact, this became possible when Great Britain emerged as the world first industrial nation during the 18th and early 19th century. It was during that period that Britain acquired vast overseas colonial territories extensively explored. This enabled Great Britain to become the wealthiest nation in the world.

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 west of England are mountainous, but all the rest — east, centre and south-east — 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 UK is a highly developed industrial country. It 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.


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