The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the full name of one of the biggest states in Europe. Almost every page of world history is marked with the word “Britain”. In the previous century, it created the greatest Empire, controlled the sea trade routes and ruled over the quarter of the planet’s territory.
During all times, Great Britain was on the proscenium of the world science and culture. The heritage of this country is remarkable: a steam-engine, the telephone, antibiotics, a prime meridian, Newton's laws of motion, the theory of evolution, HTML and HTTP, football, cricket and dozens of other inventions in various spheres.
This is the cradle of the world literature classic that gave us such renowned writers as Charles Dickens and Daniel Defoe, Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas More and George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Charlotte Bronte, John Tolkien and Joanne Rowling, Lewis Carroll and Alan Milne, Rudyard Kipling and many others. A real phenomenon of world literature — William Shakespeare — was born here and worked on his best creations. According to UNESCO, Edinburgh was proclaimed to be the “City of Literature”.
Starting from the second half of the XX century, the British performers could be heard from all the loudspeakers on the planet. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Queen, The Prodigy, Elton John, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse wrote their names in history forever.
The Royal Family holds a special place in the culture of Great Britain. Millions of tourists head to the palace to see the greeting from the Queen. The whole world watches with unconcealed interest the weddings, birthday and engagement parties, and even funeral events. The Royal Family sets the trends, participates in diplomatic missions, contributes to charity, and earns huge profit to Britain annually. Both local citizens and inhabitants of former British colonies have warm feelings to the Royal Family. The fact that the picture of Elizabeth II is printed on banknotes of various face-value in more than 10 countries proves their love.
Nowadays, the United Kingdom walks proudly in the vanguard of diverse international communities. Sometimes it seems that it casts an arrogant glance from the height of its island on the continent. However, you’ll be amazed by their cordiality and openness as soon as you get to know them better.
Great Britain is an island state which includes four countries: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Moreover, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are also parts of Great Britain. 14 overseas territories in different parts of the world are considered to be dependent on the British Crown. These are Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, etc. The country is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and also the Northern, Irish, Celtic Seas and the Sea of the Hebrides. It has only one land frontier with the Republic of Ireland. It also borders upon France through the English Channel.
Great Britain has a complicated administrative and territorial division which had been developing throughout many centuries. The countries it includes have their status and are divided into regions, counties, and districts. Each of them has authority.
Flag of the United Kingdom
Great Britain is one of four countries in the world whose flag has a name. The Union Jack was initially used as a flag of the English Navy. It was created in 1801 when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was formed. When you look at the flag, you’ll see that this is a combination of the English, Scottish, and Irish flags. Wales is not represented on the Jack Flag and local citizens consider it to be a discrimination. Therefore, they frequently bring up the matter of placing a red dragon — a symbol of this part of the country — on the flag.
The British flag is one of the most replicated national symbols. It is used for printing on various souvenirs and household items. The Union Jack was used during the performance and record of such music bands as Freddie Mercury, Morrissey, The Who, Oasis, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, and Spice Girls. Reebok company used the flag while creating a new clothes’ collection, and Rudyard Kipling devoted his poems to it.
Map United Kingdom
Where to go and what to see
England is a symbol of the oldest monarchy. It’s a country of the fierce football fans, the best universities in the world, royal traditions, cultural assimilation, and freedom of self-expression. London is the renowned capital of both England and Great Britain. Here, the windows of the magnificent Westminster Abbey face the broad Thames and the famous Tower of London. Big Ben diligently continues to count the minutes, and black English cabs rush back and forward Trafalgar Square like tiny bugs. Elizabeth II walks her beloved corgis behind the hammered gates of the Buckingham Palace. And her guards in traditional red uniform faithfully serve her.
Scotland is located in the northern part of the British archipelago. This is a country of mountains and lakes. It will blind your mind with its strong whiskey and paint your cheeks pink with dances to the bagpipes in the old local pub. Scotland keeps the secret of the Loch Ness Monster and flashes with the magical beauty of the Shetland Islands. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. This city is a model of medieval architecture. The majority of buildings are included in the list of the World Heritage Sites. Cold stone walls of the ancient houses provide a stunning contrast to the green hills that embrace the city.
Wales is a country with a record number of castles per square meter. Cardiff is the capital of Wales. Within the last couple of years, the city has been working hard on pressing London and Edinburgh in the rating of the most popular tourist cities in Albion. Here, the banks of the Bristol Channel and the ancient bricked streets host numerous festivals and loud parties. And if you still have strengths after dancing till dawn, Cardiff will offer the best shopping conditions in the world.
Northern Ireland is divided from the rest of Britain with a bay. It will greet you with cozy villages and mind-blowing landscapes. At first, they will transfer you to Narnia and then to the Stormlands from the “Game of Thrones”. Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. People here love having a real Irish drink in the pub at the Golden Mile and having an English talks about culture. Belfast is a land of the freedom-loving Irish and the motherland of the notorious Titanic. It won’t leave a single tourist indifferent.
National peculiarities of citizens in Great Britain
Each country in Great Britain solemnly honors ancient traditions. They can be seen not only in politics but also in the daily routine: from English breakfast and “5 o’clock tea” to gathering the whole family by the fireplace or meeting friends in a pub over a pint of beer. Many people believe that the citizens of Albion are not only reserved but even stiff. However, despite this trait of character, they don’t mind having fun. Numerous holidays, festivals, and parades only emphasize this fact. Here are the most impressive peculiarities of citizens in this multisided state:
- They will never miss a chance to admire various festive events and ceremonies. Locals especially adore all the events connected with the Royal Family. Love to the royals runs in people’s blood.
- People from every country in Great Britain worry a lot about their health. Therefore, going in for sports is a lifestyle in many families. Adults train their kids from the very childhood and spare no expense. They contribute a great sum from their family budgets on attending gyms and diverse competitions, purchasing equipment, and outfits.
- Pubs are another significant tradition the English are extremely proud of. There were days when women and boys under 14 years old were not allowed to enter. Nowadays pubs are family establishments where you can rarely see drunk guests. These are places to meet friends and discuss something over a pint of beer. You may also dance here or play one of the most popular games, darts. However, it is strictly forbidden to gamble or bet during such games and meetings.
- Numerous festivals and holidays became another tradition. The Englishmen especially love the Chelsea Flower Show, Royal Regatta, horse racing, a parade of druids, and various ceremonies.
- You can still see old-fashioned cabs and horse buses on the streets of London. And if you happen to see clerks rushing in London City with piles of folders with papers early in the morning, don’t even think they can’t afford to buy a briefcase. That’s a part of the national peculiarity. They despise briefcases just like their ancestors used to.
- The British still stick to their system of measures and weights (in a pub, you’ll get a pint, and not a half-liter of beer). They use the left driving and food traditions (the English breakfast is known for being the most substantial meal of the day: bacon with fried eggs, toasts with a cup of coffee or tea). Local people love green fences and red letterboxes. The judges administer justice wearing cloaks and wigs from the XVIII century. The royal guardsmen don’t take off their fur hats even in the hottest weather.
- Excellent upbringing and unimpeachable manners are considered to be a good tradition in Great Britain. A real Brit always behaves politely and smiles even if he is telling you something unpleasant or refuses. Be prepared to be greeted only with a polite handshake. Kisses and hugs are not acceptable here and are used only for close and dear people.
- Weather is a perfect topic for a discussion. The British love talking about it with everyone. And if you face any difficulties in communication, watch the renowned series of “Downton Abbey”. It reflects all the details of the relationship which had not changed with time. Self-control is still considered to be the main virtue.
- Locals don’t like unpunctual people and honor the motto “Punctuality is a kingly virtue”. Don’t even think of being late for a business meeting or dinner! People’s attitude towards you will change in a fraction of a second. Mind, that the British don’t like discussing finance, private life and some political topics, Northern Ireland, for instance.
Cities in United Kingdom
You will get unforgettable impressions if you plan to visit Great Britain. All its countries are rich in marvelous attractions: Tower Bridge, the Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the famous London Eye, a wide range of ancient castles in Wales, mind-blowing landscapes in Scotland and the most beautiful Lake District, castles of Edinburgh, excellent museums in Glasgow, and the most mysterious place on the planet Stonehenge.