The UK Political system and GeographyThe United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has always played an important role in world politics.
- What is the name of the Queen of Great Britain?
- The name of the British Queen is Elizabeth II. She ascended the British throne in 1953.
- What parties are there in Great Britain?
- In Great Britain there are two major political parties - the Conservative party and the Labour party. The Labour party is in power now in Great Britain. Anthony Charles Lynton Blair who is usually called simply Tony Blair is the Prime Minister. He became Prime Minister as a result of the May 1, 1997 elections.
- Can you name the capitals of the parts of Great Britain?
- London is the capital of England. The centre of government of Scotland is Edinburgh. It is large and busy. The principal city of Wales is Cardiff. It has plenty of industry. Belfast is the seat of government of Northern Ireland. It is a large industrial city with many fine buildings and a big port.
- What do you know about Big Ben?
- Big Ben is a tower clock. It is famous for its accuracy and for its 13-ton bell, designed by Edmund Beckett, Baron Grimthorpe. Big Ben is housed in the tower at the eastern end of the Houses of Parliament. The clock was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, commissioner of works at the time of its installation in 1859. Originally applied only to the bell, eventually it came to indicate the clock itself.
- What is the Tower of London notable for?
- Many important events in the history of Great Britain are connected with the Tower of London. It has served as citadel, palace, prison, mint, and menagerie. Now it is a museum. In 1078 William the Conqueror built the White Tower to defend the city. The Tower is famous for its illustrious prisoners. Many great people lost their heads on the executioner's block. The Yeoman Warders known as 'Beefeaters' guard the Tower. They wear traditional Tudor costumes.
- What are the principal rivers in England?
- The Thames and Severn are the principal rivers in England. The Severn is the longest river. The Thames is the most important one. It should be said that a hundred years ago, the Thames was crowded with ships, leaving for Java, New Zealand and New York, but now people travel by air, and Heathrow, London's main airport, is one of the busiest in the world.
- What are the main rivers in other parts of the UK?
- The Clyde, Spey, and Tweed are the main rivers in Scotland. The major rivers in Northern Ireland are the Barm, Erne, and Foyle. The Dee, Tywi, and Teifi are the main rivers in Wales.
- What is the highest mountain in the United Kingdom?
- Ben Nevis is the highest point in the United Kingdom. It is located in the Northern Highlands in Scotland.
- Is the United Kingdom rich in mineral resources?
- The United Kingdom has very few mineral resources. The ancient tin mines of Cornwall and the iron-ore deposits of north-central England, which helped to build the Industrial Revolution, were exhausted or uneconomical to work by the late 20th century. Since the early 1950s the output of coal steadily declined. Recently deposits of oil and natural-gas have been found in the British sector of the North Sea.
- What ethnic groups constitute the population of Great Britain?
- The English, Scots, Irish, and Welsh constitute the population of Great Britain. Since the early 1950s Commonwealth immigrants, particularly from India, the West Indies, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have increased the population of the country.
- What do you know about the educational system in Britain?
- In Great Britain education is compulsory and free, in state-supported schools, between the ages of 5 and 16. General education may lead to technical or commercial study or to higher education. Internationally prominent universities include those of Oxford, which was founded in the 12-th century, and Cambridge, which was founded in the 13-th century. Today the educational system is primarily administered by elected local education officials.