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Of the four parts which make up Great Britain England is the largest, the industrial and most densely populated part of the UK. It occupies an area of 131, 8 thousand sq. km. Over 46 million people of the population of the UK live in England.
The greatest concentrations of population are in London, Birmingham and northwest industrial cities. The coasts of England are washed by the North Sea, the Irish Sea, the English Channel and the Strait of Dover. No part of England is more than 120 kilometers from the sea.
It is interesting to note that the sea has 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.
There are many rivers in England. The longest and the most important is the Thames. The rivers are of great importance for communication and especially for carrying goods.
England is mostly a lowland country. There are upland regions in the north and the southwest, but the rest of England is almost flat.
Northern England, Midlands and Southern England – each part of England is different. The Lake District in Northern England with its lakes, mountains and valleys is a favourite holiday area. On either side of the Pennines the plains of Yorkshire and Lancashire stretch to the sea.
The wool industry is centered in Leeds and Bradford, the cotton industry in Manchester, iron ore goes to the steel, heavy machinery and shipbuilding industries of Newcastle and other cities. The industries of the Midlands, with Birmingham as its chief city, produce metal goods, from motor cars and railway engines to pins and buttons. The Midland plain makes good farm land.
In Southern England are found some of the oldest British settlements and traces of ancient monuments such as Stonehenge, which was built approximately 4000 years ago, and was used by ancient druids as a calendar to define the seasons and time.
Modern London is not one city that has steadily become larger through the centuries; it is a number of cities, towns, and villages that have, during the past centuries, grown together to make one vast urban area. London is situated upon both banks of the River Thames; it is the largest city in Britain and one of the largest in the world. Its population is about 7 million people.
London dominates the life of Britain. It is a big port and most important commercial, manufacturing and cultural centre. There is little heavy industry in London, but there is a wide range of light industry in Greater London. The City extends over an area of about 2.6 sq km. in the heart of London. About half a million people work in the City but only less than 6000 live here. It is the financial centre of the UK with many banks, offices and the Stock Exchange. But the City is also a market for goods of almost every kind, from all parts of the world.
The West End can be called the centre of London. Here are the historical palaces as well as the famous parks. Hyde Park with its Speaker’s Corner is also here. Among other parks are Kensington Gardens, St. James’s Park. In the West End is Buckingham Palace which is the Queen’s residence, and the Palace of Westminster which is the seat of Parliament.
The best known streets here are Whitehall with important Government offices, Downing Street, the London residence of the Prime Minister and the place where the Cabinet meets, Fleet Street where most newspapers have their offices, Harley Street where the highest-paid doctors live, and some others.
The name ‘West End’ came to be associated with wealth, luxury, and goods of high quality. It is the area of the largest department store, cinemas and hotels. There are about 40 theatres, several concert halls, many museums including the British Museum, and the best art galleries.
The port of London is to the east of the City. Here were kilometers of docks, and the great industrial areas that depended upon shipping. This is the East End of London, formerly unattractive in appearance, but now changing because of the introduction of new industries and very expensive housing.