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GREAT BRITAIN. GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION AND NATURAL RESOURCES.
1. Geographical position.
3. Mineral resources.
1) The British Isles, which include Great Britain, Ireland and a lot of smaller islands, are situated off the north western coast of Europe. With total area of 244, 1 sq. km. Population of the country is over 57 million people. Great Britain is made up of England (London), Wales (Cardiff), Scotland (Edinburgh) and Northern Ireland (Belfast). The official name of the country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Northern Ireland. The capital of the state is London.
The North West and West of Great Britain are surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. The Eastern part of the country is washed by the North Sea. The Southern eastern tip of G.B. is separated from France by the English Channel. Northern Ireland is separated from G.B. by the Northern Channel and is washed by the Atlantic Ocean.
There are over 5000 islands in the system of the British Isles, the most famous of them are: Isle of Man, Hebrides, Orkney Islands, Channel Islands.
The most important sea routes pass through the English Channel and the North Sea linking Europe with Americas and other continents. The advantageous geographical position of G.B. created favorable conditions for the development of shipping trade and the economy.
From south to north G.B. stretches for over 900 km and from east to west only for about 500km. In fact everything in the UK is rather small. The longest rivers are the Severn (354km), flowing along the border between England and Wales, tributaries of which include the Avon, famed by Shakespeare, and the river Thames (346km) which flows eastward to the port of London. The swiftest flowing river in the British Isles is the Spey. There are many lakes in Great Britain. On the north-west side of the Pennine system lies the Lake District, containing the beautiful lakes which give it its name. This district is widely known for its association with the history of English literature and especially with the name of William Wordsworth (1770-1850), the founder of the Lake School of poets.
The most important range of mountains is the Pennine Chain. Rainfall in the Pennines is abundant. Across the north end of the Pennines there are the grassy Cheviot Hills near the Scottish border. In north – west England lie the Cambrian Mountains.
Wales is the country of hills and mountains deeply cut by river valleys. The Cambrian Mountains cover all the territory of Wales. 2/3 of the population lives in South Wales. In the upland areas sheep are the basis of the rural economy, in the lowlands farming predominates.
Geographically Scotland may be divided into 3 major physical regions: the Highlands, the Southern Uplands, and the Central Lowlands. The Highlands lie to the west of the line. To the South there are the Grampian Mountains. The economy of the region is dominated by agriculture. The Central Lowland is the leading industrial area of Scotland.
In the Northern Ireland the chief mountains are: the Antrim Mountains in the north –east and the Sporran Mountains in the north-west.
2) Britain is as far north as Siberia. For example Edinburgh is 56 degrees north of the equator; the same latitude as Moscow, yet its climate is generally mild and temperature because of the Gulf Stream, which brings warm water and air across the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico. The climate in the UK is usually described as cool, temperate and humid. The weather is so changeable that the English often say that they have no climate but only weather. Therefore it is natural for them to use the comparison “as changeable as weather” of a person who often changes his mood or opinion about something. The weather is the favorite topic of conversation in the UK. As the weather changes with the wind, and Britain is visited by winds from different parts of the world, the most characteristic feature of Britain’s weather is its variability. 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 it 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. The wind brings rain from the Atlantic to the hills of the west. This means that the western parts of Britain are wetter than the east, which is fairly sheltered. London is drier than continental cities. Its weather may be unpredictable, but it is not practically wet. The northern mountains have much more rain and snow. More generally, the southern part of England and Wales are little warmer, sunnier and less misty than the rest. The driest period is from March to June and the wettest months are from October to January. During a normal summer the temperature sometimes rises above 25 degrees in the south. Winter temperatures below 5 degrees are rare. It seldom snows heavily in winter, snow doesn’t remain for long, except in the Scottish mountains, where skiing is possible; 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. Sometimes it brings whirlwinds or hurricanes. Draughts 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 cold, too wet or dry. This humid and mild climate is good for plants. The trees and flowers begin to blossom early in spring. In the British homes has been no central heating up till recently. The fireplaces are often used, but the coal is not used as it is very expensive. Britain has no good coal now and imports it. Many schools and universities have no central heating either, and the floors there are made of stone. The British bedrooms are especially cold; sometimes electric blankets or hot-water bottles are used.
3) The rise of the Britain as an industrial nation in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was due to the presence of mineral resources. It possessed abundant supplies of coal and iron ore, it had enough copper, lead, tin. But in the course of the last hundred years or so the situation has changed. Many of Britain’s most valuable deposits have been worked out.
Coal has been worked in Britain for 700 years. Traditionally Britain is a coal-exporting country. The most important coal deposits are found in the Midlands, Central Scotland.
The largest fields producing oil are Brent, Forties and others.
Iron ore is one of the most abundant metals in the earth’s crust. But all the iron ore for the metallurgical industry of the country is now imported from Sweden, Spain, Canada, etc.
G.B. hasn’t large sources of non-ferrous metals. Nearly all of the-fin, zinc is imported too. A great variety of non-metallic minerals is produced in G.B.