Great Britain

Situation of United Kingdom on the group of islands lying just off the mainland of north-western Europe. Information about the area of England, the largest country, is also broken down by region. Characteristics of climate and geology of Great Britain.

Рубрика География и экономическая география
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 27.02.2014
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The official name of the country we usually call England and occasionally Great Britain is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The U. K. is situated on the group of islands lying just off the mainland of north-western Europe. The British Isles include Great Britain proper, Ireland and a number of smaller islands. Great Britain consists of England, Scotland and Wales. The southern part of Ireland is the Republic of Eire. Great Britain is separated from the continent by the English Channel, the narrower part of which is called the Strait of Dover. The British Isles are surrounded by the shallow waters of the Irish Sea and the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the North Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. Britain is comparatively small, but there is hardly a country, in the world where such a variety of scenery can be found. There are wild desolate mountains in the northern Highlands of Scotland - the home of the deer and the eagle. The Pennine Range in northern England and the Cambrian Mountains in Wales are much lower. In the extreme south of England are the famous chalk hills, some of which form the Dover Cliffs. The southern and south-eastern parts of the island lie in varied lowlands. The rivers of the region are short and of no great importance as waterways. The longest of them is the "Father of London", the Thames, which is a little over 200 miles. Britain's principal ports are London, Liverpool, Manchester, Hull, Glasgow. They have splendid harbors, for the coast line is very indented. Owing to the shape of the country, any point in Great Britain is no more than 70 miles from the sea. Naturally, it's made the English race a sea - loving one. The warm currents in the Atlantic Ocean influence the climate of Great Britain. The winters are not severely cold, while summers are rarely hot. The British Isles are well - watered throughout the year. The cloudiness is rather dense, well over half the days of the year are overcast - fogs along the coast frequently hide the sun. The fogs of London, often made severe by mixture with city smoke have a world - wide reputation, but the one not to be envied. Rivers in Great Britain are seldom frozen and generally ice-free. The grass remains green all the year round. Thanks to climatic conditions, Britain in truth looks like one great well-ordered park with its old trees, green meadows and hedges.

The territory of Great Britain is divided into Lowland Britain and Highland Britain. Low- land Britain comprises Southern and Eastern England. Highland Britain includes Scotland.. Wales, the Pennines and the Lake District.

As well the territory of Great Britain is divided into four parts: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England is in the southern and central part of Great Britain. Scotland is in the north of the island. Wales is in the west. Northern Ireland is situated in the north-eastern part of Ireland.

England is the richest, the most fertile and most populated part in the country. The main territory is a vast plain. In the north-western part of it there are many beautiful lakes. This part is called Lake District, which is an isolated compact mountain group to the west of the Pennines.

Scotland is a land of mountains. The Highlands of Scotland are among the oldest mountains in the world. The chain of mountains in Scotland is called the Grampians. Its highest peak is Ben Nevis. In England there is the Pennine Chain. In Wales there are the Cambrian Mountains.

The British Isles have many rivers but they are not very long. The longest of them is the Severn.It flows into the Irish Sea. The most important river in Scotland is the Clyde. Glasgow stands on it. The Thames is the widest river in Great Britain. It is over 200 miles long. It flows through the rich agricultural and industrial areas of the country. London, the capital of Great Britain, is situated on it.

The population of Great Britain is over 56 million. Of every ten people in the United Kingdom, almost eight live in towns, four of them in one of the eight major urban groups.

The Greater London -- the largest centre of industry, the most important centre of office employment and the capital city -- is the largest of all cities in Great Britain. Other largest cities of the country are: Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The flora of the British Isles is much varied and the fauna is similar to that of the north-west of Europe.

England, once 'the workshop of the world', was the first to become a highly developed industrial country. The following branches are developed in Britain's economy: shipbuilding, textile industry, engineering and metal, woollen and cotton manufacturing, coal-mining and light industry.

The country is not very rich in natural resources. With the exception of iron ore, all metallic ores have to be imported.

The small proportion of the total population is engaged in agriculture. The main contributions to British agriculture are from crops (24%), livestock (38%) and horticultural products (11%).

The geographical position of Great Britain is rather good as the country lies on the cross- ways of the sea routes from Europe to other parts of the world.

Area

The total area of the United Kingdom is approximately 245,000 square kilometers (94,600 sq mi), comprising the island of Great Britain, the northeastern one-sixth of the island of Ireland (Northern Ireland) and many smaller islands. England is the largest country of the United Kingdom, at 130,410 square kilometers (50,350 sq mi) accounting for just over half the total area of the UK. Scotland at 78,772 square kilometers (30,410 sq mi), is second largest, accounting for about a third of the area of the UK. Wales and Northern Ireland are much smaller, covering 20,758 square kilometers (8,010 sq mi) and 14,160 square kilometers (5,470 sq mi) respectively.

The area of the countries of the United Kingdom is set out in the table below. Information about the area of England, the largest country, is also broken down by region.

Rank

Name

Area

1

England

130,427 kmІ

- South West
- East of England
- South East
- East Midlands
- Yorkshire and the Humber
- North West
- West Midlands
- North East
- London

23,837 kmІ
19,120 kmІ
19,096 kmІ
15,627 kmІ
15,420 kmІ
14,165 kmІ
12,998 kmІ
8,592 kmІ
1,572 kmІ

2

Scotland

78,772 kmІ

3

Wales

20,778 kmІ

4

Northern Ireland

13,843 kmІ

United Kingdom

243,820 kmІ

Overseas territories

1,727,570 kmІ

The British Antarctic Territory, which covers an area of 1,709,400 km2 is geographically the largest of the British Overseas Territories followed by the Falkland Islands which covers an area of 12,173 km2. The remaining twelve overseas territories cover an area 5,997 km2.

Physical geography

The physical geography of the UK varies greatly. England consists of mostly lowland terrain, with upland or mountainous terrain only found north-west of the Tees-Exe line. The upland areas include the Lake District, the Pennines, Exmoor and Dartmoor. The lowland areas are typically traversed by ranges of low hills, frequently composed of chalk. The physical geography of Scotland is distinguished by the Highland Boundary Fault which traverses the Scottish mainland from Helensburgh to Stonehaven. The faultline separates the two distinctively different regions of the Highlands to the north and west, and the lowlands to the south and east. Wales is mostly mountainous, though south Wales is less mountainous than north and mid Wales. The geography of Ireland includes the Mourne Mountains as well as Lough Neagh, at 388 square kilometers (150 sq mi), the largest body of water in the UK.

The overall geomorphology of the UK was shaped by the combined forces of tectonics and climate change, in particular glaciation.

The exact centre of the island of Great Britain is disputed. Depending upon how it is calculated it can be either Haltwhistle in Northumberland, or Dunsop Bridge in Lancashire.

great britain island country

The Climate of Great Britain

The climate in Great Britain is generally mild and temperate due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. The south-western winds carry the warmth and moisture into Britain. The climate in Britain is usually described as cool, temperate and humid.

British people say: "Other countries have a climate, in England we have weather."

The weather in Britain changes very quickly. One day may be fine and the next day may be wet. The morning may be warm and the evening may be cool. Therefore it is natural for the people to use the comparison "as changeable as the weather" of a person who often changes his mood or opinion about something. The weather is the favorite topic of conversation in Britain. When two Englishmen are introduced to each other, if they can't think of any thing else to talk about, they talk about weather. When two people meet in the street they will often say something about weather as they pass, just to show their friendliness.

Every daily paper publishes a weather forecast. Both the radio and television give the weather forecast several times each day.

The English also say that they have three variants of weather: when it rains in the morning, when it rains in the afternoon or when in rains all day long. Sometimes it rains so heavily that they say "It's raining cats and dogs".

Rainfall is more or less even throughout the year. In the mountains there is heavier rainfall then in the plains of the south and east. The driest period is from March to June and the wettest months are from October to January. The average range of temperature (from winter to summer) is from 15 to 23 degrees above zero. During a normal summer the temperature sometimes rises above 30 degrees in the south. Winter temperatures below 10 degrees are rare. It seldom snows heavily in winter, the frost is rare. January and February are usually the coldest months, July and August the warmest. Still the wind may bring winter cold in spring or summer days. Sometimes it brings the whirlwinds or hurricanes. Droughts are rare.

So, we may say that the British climate has three main features: it is mild, humid and changeable. That means that it is never too hot or too cold. Winters are extremely mild. Snow may come but it melts quickly. In winter the cold is humid cold, not the dry one.

Geology

The geology of the UK is complex and diverse, a result of it being subject to a variety of plate tectonic processes over a very extended period of time. Changing latitude and sea levels have been important factors in the nature of sedimentary sequences, whilst successive continental collisions have affected its geological structure with major faulting and folding being a legacy of each orogeny (mountain-building period), often associated with volcanic activity and the metamorphism of existing rock sequences. As a result of this eventful geological history, the UK shows a rich variety of landscapes.

The oldest rocks in the British Isles are the Lewisian gneisses, metamorphic rocks found in the far north west of Scotland and in the Hebrides (with a few small outcrops elsewhere), which date from at least 2,700 Ma (Ma = million years ago). South of the gneisses are a complex mixture of rocks forming the North West Highlands and Grampian Highlands in Scotland. These are essentially the remains of folded sedimentary rocks that were deposited between 1,000 Ma and 670 Ma over the gneiss on what was then the floor of the Iapetus Ocean.

At 520 Ma, what is now Great Britain was split between two continents; the north of Scotland was located on the continent of Laurentia at about 20° south of the equator, while the rest of the country was on the continent of Gondwana near the Antarctic Circle. In Gondwana, England and Wales were largely submerged under a shallow sea studded with volcanic islands. The remains of these islands underlie much of central England with small outcrops visible in many places.

About 500 Ma southern Britain, the east coast of North America and south-east Newfoundland broke away from Gondwana to form the continent of Avalonia, which by 440 Ma had drifted to about 30° south. During this period north Wales was subject to volcanic activity. The remains of these volcanoes are still visible, one example of which is Rhobell Fawr dating from 510 Ma. Large quantities of volcanic lava and ash known as the Borrowdale Volcanics covered the Lake District and this can still be seen in the form of mountains such as Helvellyn and Scafell Pike.

Between 425 and 400 Ma Avalonia had joined with the continent of Baltica, and the combined landmass collided with Laurentia at about 20° south, joining the southern and northern halves of Great Britain together. The resulting Caledonian Orogeny produced an Alpine-style mountain range in much of north and west Britain.

The collision between continents continued during the Devonian period, producing uplift and subsequent erosion, resulting in the deposition of numerous sedimentary rock layers in lowlands and seas. The Old Red Sandstone and the contemporary volcanics and marine sediments found in Devon originated from these processes.

Around 360 Ma Great Britain was lying at the equator, covered by the warm shallow waters of the Rheic Ocean, during which time the Carboniferous Limestone was deposited, as found in the Mendip Hills and the Peak District of Derbyshire. Later, river deltas formed and the sediments deposited were colonised by swamps and rain forest. It was in this environment that the Coal Measures were formed, the source of the majority of Britain's extensive coal reserves.

Around 280 Ma the Variscan orogeny mountain-building period occurred, again due to collision of continental plates, causing major deformation in south west England. The general region of Variscan folding was south of an east-west line roughly from south Pembrokeshire to Kent. Towards the end of this period granite was formed beneath the overlying rocks of Devon and Cornwall, now exposed at Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.

By the end of the Carboniferous period the various continents of the Earth had fused to form the super-continent of Pangaea. Britain was located in the interior of Pangea where it was subject to a hot arid desert climate with frequent flash floods leaving deposits that formed beds of red sedimentary rock.

As Pangaea drifted during the Triassic, Great Britain moved away from the equator until it was between 20° and 30° north. The remnants of the Variscan uplands in France to the south were eroded down, resulting in layers of the New Red Sandstone being deposited across central England.

Pangaea began to break up at the start of the Jurassic period. Sea levels rose and Britain drifted on the Eurasian Plate to between 30° and 40° north. Much Britain was under water again, and sedimentary rocks were deposited and can now be found underlying much of England from the Cleveland Hills of Yorkshire to the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. These include sandstones, greensands, oolitic limestone of the Cotswold Hills, corallian limestone of the Vale of White Horse and the Isle of Portland. The burial of algae and bacteria below the mud of the sea floor during this time resulted in the formation of North Sea oil and natural gas.

The modern continents having formed, the Cretaceous saw the formation of the Atlantic Ocean, gradually separating northern Scotland from North America. The land underwent a series of uplifts to form a fertile plain. After 20 million years or so, the seas started to flood the land again until much of Britain was again below the sea, though sea levels frequently changed. Chalk and flints were deposited over much of Great Britain, now notably exposed at the White Cliffs of Dover and the Seven Sisters, and also forming Salisbury Plain.

Between 63 and 52 Ma, the last volcanic rocks in Great Britain were formed. The major eruptions at this time produced the Antrim Plateau, the basaltic columns of the Giant's Causeway and Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel.

The Alpine Orogeny that took place in Europe about 50 Ma, was responsible for the folding of strata in southern England, producing the London Basin syncline, the Weald-Artois Anticline to the south, the North Downs, South Downs and Chiltern Hills.

During the period the North Sea formed, Britain was uplifted. Some of this uplift was along old lines of weakness left from the Caledonian and Variscan Orogenies long before. The uplifted areas were then eroded, and further sediments, such as the London Clay, were deposited over southern England.

The major changes during the last 2 million years were brought about by several recent ice ages. The most severe was the Anglian Glaciation, with ice up to 1,000 m (3300 ft) thick that reached as far south as London and Bristol. This took place between about 478,000 to 424,000 years ago, and was responsible for the diversion of the River Thames onto its present course. During the most recent Devensian glaciation, which ended a mere 10,000 years ago, the icesheet reached south to Wolverhampton and Cardiff. Among the features left behind by the ice are the fjords of the west coast of Scotland, the U-shaped valleys of the Lake District and erratics (blocks of rock) that have been transported from the Oslo region of Norway and deposited on the coast of Yorkshire.

Amongst the most significant geological features created during the last twelve thousand years are the peat deposits of Scotland, and of coastal and upland areas of England and Wales.

At the present time Scotland is continuing to rise as a result of the weight of Devensian ice being lifted. Southern and eastern England is sinking, generally estimated at 1 mm (1/25 inch) per year, with the London area sinking at double the speed partly due to the continuing compaction of the recent clay deposits.

Speaking about geographical position, The British Isles consist of two large islands - Great Britain and Ireland - separated by the Irish Sea, and a lot of small islands, the main of which are the Isle of Wight in the English Channel, Anglesea and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, the Hebrides - a group of islands off the north-western coast of Scotland, and two groups of islands lying to the north of Scotland: the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands.

The surface of Great Britain varies greatly. The northern and western part of the country is mountains and is called the Highlands. All the rest (south, east and centre) is a vast plain which is called the Lowlands. The mountains are not very high. The coastline of Great Britain is greatly indented, especially in the west and north-west where the mountains come close to the coast. The rivers are not long. The rivers of Great Britain are not very long but usually deep and never freeze in winter. The longest and deepest rivers are the Severn and Mersey, the Thames on which stands the capital of Great Britain - London.

Lying in the middle latitudes and surrounded by waters Britain has a mild and temperate climate. The climate of the British Isles is generally classified as cool, temperate, though in the Highlands of Scotland it is severe. The best season for the English people is spring when everything is in full bloom, there is much sunshine and it is rather warm. Autumn and winter are famous for their fogs and rains. In big industrial cities fog turns into "smog" (smoke + fog). It is a very unpleasant time. The usual temperature in winter very seldom falls below 3-5 degrees Centigrade. The fauna or animal life of Britain is much like that of north-western Europe, to which it was once joined.

Great Britain is not very rich in mineral resources. Nevertheless it has not bad deposits of coal, and iron ore and vast deposits of oil and gas that were discovered in the North Sea. Britain is a major world producer of oil, natural gas and coal. It's self-sufficient in energy and in other resources.

In conclusion, I want to say that Great Britain is a highly developed industrial country with picturesque nature. I haven't been to England yet and I'd like to visit this magnificent country very much.

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