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SCOTLAND






Status: Part of United Kingdom

First Minister: Jack McConnell (2001)

Land area: 30, 414 sq mi (78, 772 sq km)

Population (1996 est.): 5, 128, 000; density per sq mi: 168.6

Capital (2003 est.): Edinburgh, 663, 700 (metro. area), 460, 000 (city proper)

Largest city: Glasgow, 1, 361, 000 (metro. area), 1, 099, 400 (city proper)

Monetary unit: British pound sterling (£ )

Languages: English, Scots Gaelic

Religions: Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, Scottish Episcopal Church, Baptist.

Scotland is the most northern of the countries that constitute the UK. It occupies an area of 78.8 thousand sq. km. It means that Scotland takes up one third of the territory of the British Isles, its population is not very big. It is the most northern part of the island of GB and is not far away from the Arctic Circle. That’s why it is not densely populated: its population is a little over 5 million people. The Cheviot Hills mark the boundary between England and Scotland. Apart from this land link with England, Scotland is surrounded by sea.

Scotland includes the Hebrides off the west coast, and the Orkney and Shetland Islands off the north coast. It is bounded by the North Sea in the east.

Scotland is divided into three regions: the Highlands, which is the most northern and the most under populated area with a harsh climate, the Lowlands, which is the most industrial region, with about three quarters of the population, and the Southern Uplands, with hills, which border on England. The Highlands of Scotland are among the oldest mountains in the world. They reach their highest point in Ben Nevis (1343m). Many valleys between the hills are filled with lakes, called lochs. The best-known is Loch Ness where some people think a large monster lives. The most important city here is Aberdeen which is the oil centre of Scotland. Ships and helicopters travel from Aberdeen to the North Sea oil rigs. Work on an oil rig is difficult and dangerous.

Most of the population of Scotland is concentrated in the Lowlands. The Lowlands are the cradle of the Scottish nation. Here, on the Clyde, is Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city. Shipbuilding is one of its most important industries; other industries are iron and steel, heavy and light engineering and coal-mining.

Scotland had been an independent state and was joined into the UK in 1707, after a long struggle for its independence. One of the things that people associate with Scotland is the kilt. The kilt is a relic of the time when the clan system existed in the Highlands. Everybody in the clan had the same family name, like MacDonald or MacGregor (Mac means ‘son of’). The clan had its own territory and was ruled by a chieftain. Each clan had its own tartan.

Edinburgh has been the capital since the 15th century, when its fortified castle was the centre of Scotland’s resistance to its enemies. Edinburgh is the cultural centre of Scotland. It is associated with the names of George Gordon Byron and Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns and Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. It is also associated with the world-famous Edinburgh Festival of Music and Drama. The festival was first held in 1947 and has been held annually ever since. Its emblem is a thistle.

 

WALES

Status: Part of United Kingdom

First Secretary: Rhodri Morgan (2000)

Land area: 8, 019 sq mi (20, 768 sq km)

Population (1993 est.): 2, 906, 500

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Cardiff, 676, 400 (metro. area), 280, 800 (city proper)

Monetary unit: British pound sterling (£ )

Languages: English, Welsh

Religions: Calvinistic Methodist, Church of Wales, Roman Catholic

Wales is a peninsula washed by the sea on three sides: the Bristol Channel in the south, the St. George’s Channel in the west, and the Irish Sea in the north. Its territory is 20, 8 thousand sq. km. Geographically Wales may be considered part of highland Britain, the Cumbrian Mountains occupying most of the land. It is an area of high mountains, deep valleys, waterfalls and lakes.

Atlantic Ocean. The valleys are sheltered by the high mountains from cold east winds. The climate is rather mild. Wales has never been densely populated. The Welsh have kept their own language, but English is spoken in town as well.

The chief economic activities of Wales include agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism and other service industries. The economy is largely integrated into that of the United Kingdom. About 80 percent of the land Wales is used for agricultural purposes. In general the raising of livestock, mainly beef and dairy cattle and sheep, is more important than crop cultivation. Crops include barley, oats, potatoes, and hay. Forests cover about 12 percent of the land, and government reforestation programs are gradually increasing the area. The fishing industry is concentrated along the Bristol Channel.

Wales is home to a diverse manufacturing sector. The refining of metal ore, much of which is imported, has long been a major industry. Almost all tin plate and much of the aluminum of the sheet steel produced in Britain are made in Welsh plants. Since the 1940s many new industries have been established. These include oil automotive parts. And other high-technology manufactures has expanded. Milford Haven, in southwestern Wales, is a major petroleum-importing port and refining center.

Mining, once a mainstay of the economy, is no longer a major source of revenue or employment in Wales. The rich coal fields and iron or deposits of southern Wales helped fuel Britain’s Industrial Revolution. By the 1980s falling domestic demand and declining competitiveness in international markers forced most coal pits still operating in Wales to close. Welsh mines also produce limestone and slate.



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