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The British Commonwealth

The Commonwealth or the British Commonwealth is an organization of about 50 independent states which were formerly parts of the British Empire, established to encourage trade and friendly relations among its members: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, Jamaica and other Commonwealth countries.

The Gulf Stream is a current of warm water, which flows north-eastward in the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico towards Europe. It is thought that the Gulf Stream keeps Britain much warmer than it would be otherwise. The climate of Britain is more or less the same as that of the north-western part of the European mainland. There is a saying that Britain doesn’t have a climate, it only has weather. It may not rain very much, altogether, but you can never be sure of a dry day; there can be cool, even cold days in July and some quite warm days in January.

British people are often thought to be reserved and quiet. They are also thought to accept bad luck or unpleasant events without appearing upset. British people are considered to use understatements.

The United Kingdom is one of the few countries where a constitutional monarchy has survived with its ages-old customs and traditions. There is no written constitution. It was formed partly by common law and partly by conventions.

Being a constitutional monarch, the Queen does not make any major political decisions. In Britain, they look to the Queen not only as their head of the state, but also as the symbol of their nation’s unity. The Queen has retained many important, though formal, functions. In particular, she appoints every important office holder, including the Prime Minister.

The British Parliament is the main law-making body consisting of both the elected representatives of the people (the House of Commons) and the House of Lords. When people talk about Parliament they often talk only about the House of Commons.

The House of Commons is the larger and more powerful of the two parts of the British Parliament, the members of which are elected by citizens over 18 years of age. Each member represents people in a particular area and is their MP. The British House of Commons has 650 members. MPs serve for five years. When a new law is introduced, it is passed first in the House of Commons, and then sent to the House of Lords to be discussed and approved. Finally, it must be approved by the Queen and given the royal assent.

The members of the House of Lords are not elected but have positions because of their rank or titles of honour. Members of the House of Lords include Lords, Bishops and life peers.

The flag of the United Kingdom, known as the Union Jack8, is made up of three crosses. The upright red cross is the cross of St. George, the patron saint of England. The white diagonal cross is the cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. The red diagonal cross is the cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.


1. What is the full formal title of the country? 2. Where is the country situated? 3. What parts does Great Britain include? 4. How large is the country? What is its territory? 5. What is its population? 6. What is the climate of the British Isles modified by? What sort of climate is there on the British Isles? 7. What kind of state is a constitutional monarchy? 8. When was the first British parliament summoned? 9. What is peculiar about the British Constitution? 10. Who is the head of state in Great Britain? 11. What is the British Parliament like nowadays?

Задание 2. Выберите правильный вариант.

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