is the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain?
2. What is the
population of Britain and its major cities?
3. What are
National Parks and where are they?
4. Which are
Britain’s largest ethnic minority groups?
religions are represented in Britain?
6. What are
Britain’s main imports and exports?
7. What does
the Union Flag stand for and how should it be flown?
8. What are
‘GMT’ and ‘British Summertime’?
1 What is the difference between
the United Kingdom and Great Britain?
The United Kingdom is
made up of the countries of England, Scotland,
Wales and Northern
Ireland. Its full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland. Great Britain, on the other hand, comprises only England,
Scotland and Wales. It is the largest island of the British Isles.
Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic form the second largest
The Isle of Man and the Channel
Islands are not part of the United Kingdom. They are largely
self-governing with their own legislative assemblies and systems of law.
The British Government is, however, responsible for their defence and
In this site the term ‘Britain’ is used
informally to mean the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
2 What is the
population of Britain and its major cities?
Britain ranks 18th
in the world in terms of population size.
In mid-1996, the population
of Britain was 58.8 million, an increase of just over half since the
beginning of the century.
The total population of England is estimated
at 49.1 million, Wales is estimated at 2.9 million, Scotland at 5.1
million and Northern Ireland at 1.7 million people. England has the
highest population density and Scotland has the lowest.
The population of Britain’s major
cities in mid-1996 was as follows: London 7,740,300; Birmingham 1,020,600;
Manchester 430,800; Glasgow 616,430; Edinburgh 448,850; Belfast 297,300;
are National Parks and where are they?
National Parks aim both to protect
the outstanding countryside within their boundaries and to provide
opportunities for outside recreation for their many thousands of visitors
There are seven
National Parks in England - Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, North York
Moors, Northumberland, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales.
are three National Parks in Wales -Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and the
Pembrokeshire Coast that together account for about 20 per cent of the
total land area.
In Scotland there are four Regional Parks -
Lomond, Fife, Clyde Muirshiel,
Pentland Hills - and 40 National Scenic
plus 77 national nature reserves.
4 Which are
Britain’s largest ethnic minorities groups?
The largest ethnic
minorities in Britain are those of Caribbean or African descent (875,000
people). The next largest ethnic groups are Indians (840,255 people), and
Pakistani and Bangladeshis (639,390 people). Overall, ethnic minority
groups represent just under six per cent of the population of Great
Britain. The ethnic population has evolved from the substantial
immigration of people from former British colonies in the Caribbean and
South Asian sub-continent during the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, in the
1970s Britain admitted some 28,000 Asians expelled from Uganda and some
22,000 refugees from South East Asia. Considerable numbers of Chinese,
Italians, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Poles, Australians,
Zealanders and people from the United States and Canada are also resident
5 Which religions
are represented in Britain?
Britain has the right to religious freedom. Britain is predominantly
Christian - one British citizen in 10 is a member of the Roman Catholic
Church and there are 1.7 million members of the Anglican church - the
‘established church’, that is the church legally recognised as the
official church of the State.
In Scotland, there are 1.1 million
members of the Presbyterian Church - the established church in Scotland.
In Northern Ireland, about half the people regard themselves as
Protestants and nearly 40 per cent as Roman Catholics.
In Wales, the
Anglican church was disestablished in 1920. This means that there is no
one officially established church, but Methodism and Baptism are the two
most widespread religions.
Britain has one
of the largest Muslim communities in Western Europe, estimated to be
between 1 and 1.5 million people, with over 600 mosques and prayer
centres. One of the most important Muslim institutions in the Western
world is the Central mosque in London and its associated Islamic Cultural
The Sikh community in Britain comprises between 400,000 and
500,000 people, with the largest groups of Sikhs concentrated in Greater
London, Manchester and Birmingham. The oldest Sikh temple was established
in London in 1908.
The Hindu community in Britain accounts for a
further 320,000 people.
The first Hindu temple was opened in London in
1962, and there are now over 150 throughout Britain. Other religious
groups include about 285,000 members of the Jewish
6 What are Britain’s
main imports and exports?
Despite having only one per cent of
the world’s population, Britain
is the fifth largest trading nation in
the world. The chemical industry is Britain’s largest export earner, and
the third largest in Western Europe. Since the 1970s, oil has contributed
significantly to Britain’s overseas trade, both in exports and a reduced
need to import oil. British Petroleum (BP) is Britain’s biggest and
Europe’s second biggest industrial company.
UK pharmaceutical companies
make three of the world’s best selling medicines: ‘Zantac’ (made by Glaxo
Wellcome) for ulcer treatment; ‘Tenormin’ (ICI), a beta-blocker for high
blood pressure; and ‘AZT’ (Glaxo Wellcome), a drug used in the treatment
Britain is also a major supplier of machinery, vehicles,
aerospace products, electrical and electronic equipment. Britain is
responsible for 10 per cent of the world’s export of services, including
banking, insurance, stockbroking, consultancy and computer
Britain imports six times as many manufactures as basic
EU countries account for seven of the 10 leading suppliers
of goods to Britain and Germany is Britain’s biggest supplier of imports.
Food, beverages and tobacco account for half of non-manufactured imports,
whilst machinery and road vehicles account for two-thirds of finished
imported manufactures. Other major imports include chemicals, fuels,
clothing and footwear.
7 What does the
Union Flag stand for and how should it be flown?
The flag of
Britain, commonly known as the Union Jack (which derives from the use of
the Union Flag on the jack-staff of naval vessels), embodies the emblems
of three countries under one Sovereign. The emblems that appear on the
Union Flag are the crosses of three patron saints:
|• the red cross
of St. George, for England, on a white ground;
|• the white
diagonal cross, or saltire, of St. Andrew, for Scotland, on a blue
|• the red
diagonal cross of St. Patrick, for Ireland, on a white
The current version of the Union
Flag appeared in 1801, following the union of Great Britain with Ireland,
with the inclusion of the cross of St Patrick. The cross remains in the
flag although now only Northern Ireland is part of the United
Wales is not represented in the Union
Flag because, when the first version of the flag appeared, Wales was
already united with England. The national flag of Wales, a red dragon on a
field of white and green, dates from the 15th century and is widely used
throughout the Principality.
The Union Flag should be flown with
the broader diagonal band of white uppermost in the hoist (near the pole)
and the narrower diagonal band of white uppermost in the fly (furthest
from the pole).
8 What are ‘GMT’ and
GMT or ‘Greenwich Mean Time’ is the local
time of the 0 degree meridian that passes through Greenwich in London,
from which the standard times of different areas of the globe are
calculated. Thus it is the standard time for Britain, and a basis for
other time zones in the world.
Summer time or BST (British Summer Time)
runs from the end of March to the end of October (the last Sunday in each
month), when clocks are advanced one hour ahead of GMT to gain maximum use
of daylight hours.