Friday, 18 May 2012

UNITED KINGDOM

LONDON AND THE RIVER 
THAMES IN EVENING GLOW
The great British Empire is no more as such but Britain turned the whole incredible change over into British Commonwealth and it was the only colonial power which dealt with it without hardly any bloodshed. No doubt the era of colonies and empires had to come to an end.

Today it is called the United Kingdom which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, there are still further 4,000 islands under the British flag. It represents still quite a significant power in Europe today. These islands are the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and other islands around the world such as the Falklands, Gibraltar and Bermuda are just a few. Islands close to the mainland are the Shetland Islands, the Orkney Islands, the Outer Hebrides and the Scilly Isles.

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The UK has the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the North Seas on the east and the English Channel separates the UK from Europe.

Between the UK and Ireland are the Irish Sea and the Celtic Sea.

The country scenery in the UK is largely rolling hills which in crease to wards Scotland and end in quite mountainous. The mountain range The Grampians has the highest mountain Ben Nevis, at 1344m. Most of the UK has ancient hilly sceneries like the Lake District in the North-West and the Cambrian Mountains in Wales. The highest mountain there is the Mount Snowdon at 1085m. Other beautiful sceneries with magnificent hills are the Pennines, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns. Further south the Sperrin Mountains and the Mourne Mountains of Northern Ireland.

Climate
The Climate is influenced by the Gulf Stream which makes it warmer but changeable and wetter.  The summers can be quite cool and the winter rarely has snowfall for long in the south but longer in the midlands and North but more in Scotland.

The country is covered with 9 per cent with trees, thickest, scattered cops and conifer plantation. Some of the woodlands are quite ancient. One-third of the land has heath and moor land. The moor lands are mostly in wet, upland areas. The wildlife has changed greatly since their habitat is claimed more and more. It mostly is of foxes, badgers, rabbits and weasels. The biggest is the red deer which are mainly in Scotland. There are also a few wildcats. At Exmoor, Shetland Islands and the New Forest are semi wild ponies. It has been recorded that 200 species of birds either live here or passing through.

Economy
Although only a small country but the UK was one of the leading commercial and industrialized countries. Only in recent years, due to political mismanagement it lost almost most of its top industries for which was famous for and the envy of the world.  It had great mining industry and could have provided coal till the 2400 but due to the ex-premier minister Margaret Thatcher stating it was not profitable any more, most of the mines were closed down. The big industries were privatised and went from bad to worse because shareholders just want to have their dividends and next to nothing put back into the industry.

Today the main manufactured products are food, drinks, chemicals, light engineering goods, textiles, electrical and electronic goods. Scotland is the main producer of computers.  The main cereal crops are wheat, barley and oats. The livestock industry produces cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. Fishing industry includes deep sea fishing and fish farming. The major ports are Hull, Grimsby, Plymouth, Aberdeen and Portavogic. Fishes are mainly cod, haddock, plaice, mackerel and herring. Since the UK is an island the shipping industry was most important. The export is mainly oil and gas but ferries for tourism. This industry employs 7 per cent of the workforce.

The UK enjoys a great tourism and is on the six places in tourist’s destination. It has 19 million overseas visitors annually.

History of the United Kingdom
The Unification of the United Kingdom started in 1301 when Edward I conquered the independent country of Wales. However, Wales was not officially included till 1536. The two kingdoms of Scotland and England were united when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England in 1603. However, politically they state separate till 1717 with the Act of Union the British Islands became officially know as Great Britain. In 1801 Ireland joined the Union and the title changed to United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. From there on the Irish demand for independent became more lauder and in 1922 the Irish Free State was declared. The six counties in Northern Ireland demanded to stay with the UK and the title became than United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927.

The UK is a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II. She is the head of state but has not political power. The country is poorly run but her Government and the minister.

Party Politics
The UK is a democracy with number parties and whichever party won the election will be the government. General elections are held every five years. People over 18 years of age are entitled to vote. The head of the government is the Prime Minister. He selects a number of ministers to form a Cabinet and they will be his chief advisers. The people who are elected all over the country on a local election will sit in the House of Commons and their title is Minister of Parliament or for short MPs. They vote on the country’s law and then pass it on to the House of Lords to be approved.  The House of Lords are peers, law lords, archbishops and senior bishops of the Church of England. They are not elected and receive no salary. The three main parties are the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal-Democrats

The country joined the European Community in 1973. Britain has a troublesome time ever since the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993. From there on it was named European Union or EU.  It is working towards a political and monetary union of every member. The British politicians feel it unmade democracy and cost more and more money,

The Troubles
Since 1922 when Northern Ireland was established it never ceased to have confrontations between Catholics and Protestants. The Irish Republic wants a united Ireland. The Protestants who are the majority wants to stay with the UK. In 1969 the troubles really flared up and British troops were deployed.
Northern Ireland has its own parliament in Belfast and deals with all problems and laws. In 1972 when the troubles went out of control the parliament was suspended it came under direct rule from London.
The main party fighting for independence is Sinn Fein. The military site is Irish Republican Army or IRA. They caused a lot of trouble such as bombing and murder in Northern Ireland and on the mainland of Britain. The main part in Northern Ireland is the Democratic Unionists and in spite of the name cause also bloodshed.

In August 1994, the IRA and opposing ‘loyalist’ declared a ceasefire. The ceasefire collapse in 1995 when the IRA refused to hand over weapons.  Sinn Fein’s leader Gerry Adams declared the ceasefire over. When Tony Blair came into power he took up the negotiation again and eventually achieved for the Sinn Fain to hand over weapons and peace was declared in Northern Ireland.

Politics in Scotland and Wales
Scotland is self-governed but has no parliament. Scottish MPs are in the House of Commons. They have five government departments in Edinburgh. They are called Scottish Office and deal with domestic affairs. The five departments are Agriculture and Fisheries, the Development, the Industry Department, the Education Dept., and Health and Home. Scotland has their own legal and education system.
Wales has no parliament. The Welsh Secretary of state is part of the Cabinet and so is the Scottish secretary.

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