The Great Lakes (Великие озера)
The Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario) form the largest system of fresh water on earth, containing 18% of the world’s supply. Lake Superior is the largest and the deepest. It has the largest surface area of any freshwater lake in the world (81,000 square km) and holds enough water to cover the entire continents of North and South America with a third of a metre of water.
Glacier Bay (Alaska) (Ледниковая бухта)
Glacier Bay is a wilderness of mountains, glaciers, estuaries, beaches and lakes which was covered by ice only 200 years ago. The glaciers of Glacier Bay are still retreating, revealing new landscapes every few years. Glacier Bay is now a nature reserve and is used extensively for scientific research.
Part 3. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northen Ireland
The country and a county
The British Isles is the name for a collection of about 4000 islands, including Great Britain and Ireland. Great Britain or GB is the name for the largest of the islands in the British Isles. It includes England, Scotland and Wales. It does not include Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. You see the abbreviation GB on driving licenses of people who live in England, Scotland and Wales.
The United Kingdom or UK is a political term which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The abbreviation UK is used on official documents produced by Parliament.
Everybody from the UK is British, but be careful: only people from England are English. People from Wales think of themselves as Welsh, from Scotland as Scottish, from Northern Ireland as British or Irish.
Britain is split up into counties. The word county describes an area with its own local government. County councils rule such things as education and housing. They look after roads, libraries and swimming pools.
Many counties like Yorkshire or Lancashire contain the word “shire”, which is the old word for county. In writing they usually abbreviate the names of counties with the word shire, so Lancashire becomes Lancs, Yorkshire becomes Yorks, but Essex stays Essex and Kent stays Kent.
North, South, East and West
Britain is only a small country, but every part of it is different. Scotland is a land of mountains, lakes and romantic castles. The winters are cold here, but the summers are often warm and sunny. Most farmers keep sheep here. Deer live in the hills, and the rivers are full of salmon. Glasgow and Edinburgh are large, modern cities.
In the warm, wet climate of Northern Ireland, the grass grows brilliant green, and much of the land is farming country. Belfast is a large industrial city and a big important port.
Wales is a country of high mountains and pretty valleys. But Wales has plenty of industry, too, with many factories and coal mines. The people of Wales are very musical. Every year they have a festival of Welsh music and poetry.
The centre of England (the Midlands) is also an important industrial area. But everywhere, even in the heart of a modern city there are buildings from older Britain – cathedrals, castles and houses built hundreds of years ago.
The west of England is rich farming country. It produces milk, cream, butter, cheese. In the villages people grow fruit, vegetables and flowers.
The southeast of England, too, has many towns and cities, including London. But near London, there are quiet villages and peaceful farms.
Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom. Its area is about 79,000 square kilometers, the population is over five million people. People who live in Scotland are Scots, or the Scottish or Scotsmen. A lot of Scottish family names begin with “Mac” or “Mc” like MacDonald or MacMillan or McHale. About one third of the population live in the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Scottish people speak English and Scottish Gaelic.
Scotland is a very mountainous country: three fourths of the area is occupied by mountains, where few people live. Scotland is famous for the beautiful lakes with mountains around them. Scottish lakes, called lochs, are long and narrow. The most famous of the lochs is Loch Ness, because of the mystery of its monster. “Nessie” became a great tourist attraction, bringing a lot of money to the region.
The Scotsman’s traditional clothes are a kilt and tartan. Nowadays most Scottish people wear the same clothes as the English. They put on their traditional clothes only holidays and wear them with pleasure.
Scotland is the birthplace of many famous men of literature: Robert Burns, Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson; famous men of science: James Clerk Maxwell and Alexander Fleming.
Of the four parts which make up Great Britain, England is the largest, the most industrial and most densely populated part of the United Kingdom. Over 51 million people live in England.
The greatest concentrations of population are in London, Birmingham and north-west industrial cities.
It is interesting to note that the sea has always been important in the history of England. It was a good protection against the attacks of outside peoples. Fishing has always been an important industry, especially in the east. The sea also has a great effect on England’s climate.
England is a lowland country. Numerous rivers are of great importance for communication and especially for carrying goods.
Lake District in Northern England with its lakes, mountains and valleys is a favourite holiday resort.
The wool industry is centred in Leeds and Bradford, the cotton industry in Manchester, the iron ore goes to the steel, machinery and shipbuilding industries of Newcastle. The industries of Midlands produce metal goods, from motor cars and railway engines to pins and buttons.
The south of England is often called ‘the Garden of England’. In this part some of the oldest British settlements and traces of ancient monuments such as Stonehenge are found.
The Welsh call their country Camry. The population of Wales is almost 3 mln people; about 75% of the people live in towns and urban districts. The living standards of people in Wales are lower than in England, the unemployment rate is higher.
Wales is a highland country. North Wales is a country of mountains and deep valleys, South Wales is a land of high hills and wide valleys. The pride of Wales is Snowdonia, the region of high mountains.
Mineral resources include coal, some gold, silver, and copper. South Wales is more developed. Nowadays, coal-mining, steel production, electronics, electrical engineering and chemicals can be found here.
The capital of Wales is Cardiff, the largest city, situated near the mouth of the Taff River. It’s an important industrial city and port, and administrative and educational centre.
The love of song and poetry of the Welsh people is known all over the world.
Northern Ireland is the smallest component of the United Kingdom. It occupies northeast of the island of Ireland, only one sixth of its territory. Its capital is Belfast. If you ask an Irishman far from home what he misses most about Ireland, he will probably say “the greenness”. Irish poets call their country “the Emerald Islands”. Is the grass really greener in Ireland? The fact is that the winds usually flow from the Atlantic Ocean and make the air and soil warm and damp. Grass grows well in such climate and it makes the island so beautiful.
The population of Northern Ireland is about 1.5mln people; 53% of them live in urban areas. The whole economy of Northern Ireland is closely integrated with the economy of Great Britain. It has three basic industries: agriculture, textiles and shipbuilding. The largest industry agriculture is conducted for the most part on small family farms.
Part 4. British Way of Life
British people have two names: a first name and a surname or family name. Family members or friends always use first names. It’s usually a good idea to use surnames until people ask you to use their first names. When people want to be formal, or when they do not know each other very well, they use surnames with Mr. (pronounced “mister”), Mrs. (pronounced “missis”) for married women, and Miss for unmarried women. Some women don’t like to say if they are married or not. When they write their name, they use Ms (pronounced “miz” or “mez”), not Mrs. or Miss. Many people have second or middle names: Jacqueline Lee Onassis, Winston Spencer Churchill. When a woman marries, she usually takes her husband’s surname. The children have their father’s surname too. Thus, John Smith marries Susan Brown. She becomes Susan Smith and their children are Elizabeth Smith and Tom Smith.
“Sir” is a British title for men who have done many good things for their country. “Sir” is used with the first name, not with the surname alone: Sir Winston, or Sir Winston Churchill (not Sir Churchill).
Sportsmen, musicians and actors often have nicknames. A nickname is not your real name, but a name that people call you. Ringo Starr was the drummer with the Beatles. His real name is Richard, but Ringo is his nickname.
Oxford and Cambridge
What is so special about Oxford and Cambridge, the two oldest English Universities? Why do so many students want to study there? Oxford and Cambridge have the highest academic reputation and many famous people are their graduates.
Both of these university towns are very beautiful. They have houses with the finest architecture in Britain. Some of their colleges, chapels and libraries are three, four or five hundred years old. Both towns have lovely gardens where the students can read and relax in summer months. Oxford is the older university of the two. The first of its colleges was founded in 1249. There were no women students at Oxford until 1878. Now women study together with men.
It is not easy to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge to study for a degree. But outside these universities there are many smaller private universities which offer less difficult courses and where it is easy to enroll. Students in these private universities take business, secretarial or English language courses.
British people are naturally polite and are never tired of saying “Thank you” and “I’m sorry”. British people are generally disciplined and reserved, you never hear loud talk in the street. British people don’t show much emotion. They remain good-tempered and cheerful even under difficulties. British people like jokes. English sense of humour is famous and humour is highly prized in Britain.
When English people meet someone for the first time, they shake hands. They do not usually shake hands with people they know well. Women sometimes kiss their women friends. When a man meets a man friend, he just smiles and says “Hello”. Men do not kiss each other or hold hands.
A typical family had a father, a mother and two or three children. This was the image of the traditional British family in the 1950s or 1960s. Nowadays only 7 per cent of British families consist of five or more people. The average British couple today has 1.8 children. Grandparents come to visit, but do not usually live with their children. Most people get married, but many marriages end in divorce, one in every two marriages ends in divorce. This means that there is a large number of “single parent families”: a father or a mother looks after their children alone. Nine per cent of families are lone parents.
A typical British family has or rents a house or a flat, has a car and a cat or a dog. They start the day at about 7 o’clock, have breakfast at 8, and start work at 9 o’clock. More and more women now go out to work like men. The children have lunch at school at about 12.30, and come home at 4 in the afternoon. Their parents are usually at home by 6 o’clock, and the family eats together between 6.00 and 7.00 o’clock. In the evenings, father may go to the pub for a drink, or stay at home and watch TV with the others. Children go to bed early, two or three hours before their parents.
Pubs are typical of Britain and are an important part of British life. People go to the pub to relax and to meet friends. But pubs are not open to everyone and they are not open all the time. People under the age of 16 cannot go into pubs. And pubs are open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. or later.
In a pub you can buy beer, wine, fruit juice and soft drinks. Beer is the most popular drink in a pub and there are many different kinds of beer.
Many pubs also sell hot food, which is often good and cheap. But you must go to the bar and get your food and drink because there are no waiters in pubs. Most pubs now serve good value hot and cold meals. They often have family areas where a whole family can eat together.
The London Underground
The first underground railway system in the world was in London. It opened in 1863 and ran 6.5 kilometres from the west of London to the City in the east. The first lines were built close to the surface and used steam trains. They then built deeper tunnels and the electric underground railway opened in 1890. This system was called the Tube, still the most popular name for the London Underground. Some of the Tube stations are so deep that they were used as air-raid shelters during the Second World War when hundreds of families spent nights in the stations.
One million people commute into central London every day. Sixty per cent of these people use the Tube, mainly because the London Underground system extends far into the suburbs: the Northern Line, running from north to south, covers 28 kilometres, the Piccadilly Line, running from east to west is 76 kilometres long.
Food in Britain
Britain has some excellent traditional food: lamb from Wales, shellfish and fresh salmon from Northern Ireland, fresh or smoked fish from Scotland, cheeses from England and Wales. Unfortunately, good English food is difficult to find. Only 2 per cent of restaurants in London serve British food and they are very expensive. You can eat a good and cheap “British” meal in a pub. Most pubs now serve good value hot and cold meals.
A traditional English breakfast is a very big meal – sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and bread. But nowadays most people have for breakfast cereal with milk and tea or coffee with a toast with marmalade or jam. Marmalade is made from oranges and jam is made from other food.
British people if they go out for a meal or buy a takeaway, go to an Indian, Chinese, Italian, Thai, Turkish, Greek or other restaurant. There are 8000 restaurants in Great Britain, which cook everything from spicy national dishes to vegetarian food.
Fast food became very popular, too. Traditional British fish and chips and American hamburger are examples of it.
Now people spend less time cooking. They bring home already cooked food in packets and pots and heat them up in the microwave.
About 80 per cent of British people live in houses. Detached houses are usually in expensive suburbs, far from the town centre, near the countryside. Semi-detached houses are in suburbs too, but nearer the town centre. Blocks of flats are mostly found in town centres. They can be small with one or two bedrooms or large with five bedrooms.
About 67 per cent of the people in Britain own their houses or flats. The rest live in rented accommodation and are called council accommodation. Council flats and houses are built by the local council, they can be as high as 20 storeys. Near the houses there are play areas for children. By 1993, 1.5 million council houses were sold, but only 5000 council houses were built to replace them. This means that it is now very difficult to find cheap housing for rent – a real problem for the poor and unemployed.
English people like gardening and you can see gardens everywhere you go: in towns, villages and in the country. Some are very small, just a tree and a few flowers, others are big with fruit trees and vegetables and certainly many flowers.
The saying “An Englishman’s home is his castle” is well-known. It illustrates the desire for privacy and the importance attached to ownership.
The British and Sport
For a very large number of people sport is their main form of entertainment. Millions take part in some kind of sport and even more millions are regular spectators or sport fans.
The English not only love sport, they invented some kinds of sport. Golf was first played in Scotland in the 15th century and the most famous golf club, Saint Andrews in Scotland, is still the most respected authority on golf in the world.
Cricket was first played in England in the 16th century. It’s a very long game and international matches go on for five days. But in the real English way, the players always stop for tea. Cricket may seem slow, but it is very exciting for those who understand it.
Rugby is a type of football. It is played with an oval ball and players can kick or run with it. Rugby takes its name from Rugby School in Midlands (England). In 1823, a boy playing football at the school picked up the ball and ran with it.
Lawn tennis is another popular game in Britain. Every summer, in June, the biggest international tournament takes place at Wimbledon, a suburb of London. Everybody hopes that the rain will stay away.
Among other popular sports are aerobics with women, snooker with men, swimming, cycling, sailing and walking.
A National Passion
The British love football, in fact, they invented it. Football is their national sport. During the football seasons (August to May) most professional footballers play two matches every week.
Most British towns and cities have a football team. Every year each team plays in the Football Association competition. The two best teams play in the Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in London. It is one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Eighty thousand fans fill the stadium and there is usually a very good atmosphere.
The most exciting games are often between teams from the same city: Manchester United and Manchester City; Arsenal and Chelsea from London; Celtic and Rangers from Glasgow. About 20 million people go to football matches every year, making it the most popular spectator sport.
Animals and the British
The British are a nation of animal lovers. They have a sentimental attitude to animals. They treat animals as they treat people.
There are six and a half million dogs and six to eight million cats in Britain. This means that approximately one of ten people owns a dog or a cat. Every year the British spend over 1.5 billion pounds on pet food such as tinned dog food. Many people are prepared to pay quite large sums of money to give their pets, from a budgie to a lion, a decent burial. They also support over 380 charities and societies which protect animals. These include donkey and pony sanctuaries, horses’ rest homes and dog and cat sanctuaries. They provide practical help to animals in homes, hospitals and clinics and campaign against cruelty to animals. There are over 250 inspectors who make sure nobody breaks the laws which protect animals.
Windsor Safari Park
Zoos in Europe are changing. Cities close the big zoos with large animals in small cages and open Safari Parks. In these special parks animals live in the open. There are fences not cages.
Windsor Safari Park is near London in the south of England. It was opened in 1970 and covers 345 hectares. It is open from ten a.m. to seven p.m. In the park you can see animals from camels to dolphins, from parrots to lions. The park is divided into animal areas.
The Reserves are the areas where animals live free. The lions, tigers, zebras, camels and monkeys live on the Reserves. Visitors travel in the Park or on special Park buses. There are three important rules for visitors to the Park – they must drive slowly, never open the car window and never get out of the car in the Reserves.
There is also a Seaworld section, with dolphins, sea-lions, whales and fish. There are two other special sections for birds and tropical animals. In the Birdworld section there are hundreds of species of birds from beautiful eagles to parrots.
1. www. bbc.co.uk
2. www. britaninexpress.com/history/English-culture.htm
1. Michael Vaughan-Rees, Peter Bystrom, Steve Bateman. In Britain. Chancerel International Publishers Ltd, London, 2010.- 120 p.
2. Marta Bordman. In the USA, Chancerel International Publishers Ltd, London, 2009.- 106 p.