Great Britain and British are the same
Great Britain is a country in northwestern Europe. More precisely, the state is called "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". The state consists of parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England, Scotland and Wales are located on the actual island of "Great Britain", which is the largest of the British Isles. Northern Ireland is a small part of the opposite island of Ireland. The country has about a quarter fewer inhabitants than Germany and is also about a third smaller.
Great Britain still has a few islands nearby. Britain also has several colonies around the world. These islands are now called "overseas areas". These areas date back to when there was a British Empire.
Around 1900 the British Empire was the largest and most powerful country in the world. By 1960 most of the colonies had been lost. But many people in the world are still learning the English language. In other respects, too, many people have adopted something of the culture from Great Britain.
What does the country look like?
Great Britain gets its weather from the Atlantic Ocean. That's why the wind blows very strongly there, there is a lot of rain and fog. But it doesn't get particularly cold in Great Britain. Temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius are rare, but it is usually humid and foggy in the winter months. In March it can be pleasantly warm like in spring.
Scotland in the north has mountains, just like Wales. England, on the other hand, only knows ranges of hills. The highest mountain in the United Kingdom is in Scotland: Ben Navis is 1,345 meters high.
Great Britain is a heavily urbanized country, especially in the England part of the country. This means that there are many large cities there and only little unspoiled nature. Only about a tenth of the country's area is forest. One of the reasons for this is that Great Britain was industrialized early on.
Because Britain is made up of several islands, it has a long coastline. In the east of the country is the North Sea, in the west the Atlantic and the Irish Sea. A famous seaside holiday region is Cornwall in the south. To the west off the coast of Scotland are the Hebrides, a group of islands. To the north of Scotland are the Shetland Islands and Orkney. Both areas used to belong to Denmark for a long time.
What happened there earlier?
The British Isles got their name from an ancient Celtic people, the British. They colonized Britain before it was conquered by the Romans in 43 BC. At the end of antiquity, the Anglo-Saxons came to the islands from what is now northern Germany and took over power. England with its capital London became the most important kingdom on the island of Great Britain. It also conquered the rest of the British Isles, what is now Ireland and Northern Ireland.
But old England was also partially conquered by other empires. An important witness of this is the Bayeux Tapestry, in other words Bah-Jöh. It dates from the Middle Ages and shows how the Norman Duke Wilhelm conquered England in 1066. That was the last time enemies occupied the land.
Elizabeth the First, the last English queen of the ruling Tudor family, died in 1603. Because she had no children, Jacob Stuart, the son of Elizabeth's cousin Maria Stuart, became King of England. He was already King of Scotland, so England and Scotland became a personal union. This is what it is called when two states are ruled by the same ruler. This personal union finally became the United Kingdom in 1707.
The kingdom later conquered many colonies around the world. This included India, Australia, Canada and many more countries. Around 1920, a quarter of the world was ruled from London. That was about 100 years ago. At that time, however, the colonies were already beginning to become independent. Around 1960 the British had lost their world empire. Since then, they have become more interested in the rest of Europe.
What do you have to know about the people in the country?
In Great Britain there are four parts of the country: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. More than four fifths of all British people live in England. English is spoken in all parts of the country. However, the other parts of the country still have ancient, Celtic languages that are spoken by some people.
There are also many immigrants or the descendants of immigrants living in the UK. Mostly they come from the earlier colonies in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Most of the immigrants are from India, Poland or Pakistan and live in England.
Britain became Christian in the early Middle Ages. At the end of the Middle Ages there was the Reformation: new churches were founded in England and Scotland. The largest became the Anglican Church. It was a lot like the Catholic Church, except that it doesn't have a Pope. Today almost half of the British are Anglicans. Many other British people are Catholic. In addition, about every twentieth inhabitant is Muslim.
For many people, the queen is very important, the queen. Queen Victoria, for example, was outstanding. She was born in 1840 and died in 1901, when the British Empire was almost at its greatest. Victoria had ancestors from Germany and was also Empress of India. Today it is Elizabeth the Second, who has been queen for over sixty years.
Who is in charge in the UK?
The Queen of England is certainly the most famous queen in the world. The English name is Queen, pronounced Kwien. However, the kings of the country have not been able to determine much for a long time. Since 1689 the king has ruled “together” with parliament.
In reality, that means that Parliament matters most. Parliament makes the laws. It consists of two chambers, i.e. two parts: the lower house and the upper house. A seat in the upper house was previously reserved for nobles and bishops only. But the House of Commons is more important.
The government is called the cabinet here. If you want to become head of government, you have to be the head of one of the two big parties. Usually one of the two parties wins the elections so clearly that it gets many members in the lower house. The Queen then appoints the head of that party as head of government. He is called the Prime Minister. The prime minister then chooses his ministers. Each of them heads one of the twenty departments called the Ministry. The entire government is called the Cabinet.
Great Britain had been a member of the European Communities since 1973, which later became the European Union. But in 2016 there was a referendum: the government let the people of Great Britain decide whether the country should remain in the Union. A little more than half of the people were in favor of Brexit. This word is made up of the words "Britain" and "Exit", which means "exit". Since then there has been talk in Great Britain and the rest of Europe about what to do next.
What is the UK known for?
The English language spread during the time of the British Empire. English is one of the most important, if not the most important, languages in the world today. This is how you often get to know the culture of Great Britain.
Whether it's afternoon tea, the Loch Ness Monster, the Bulldog, Stonehenge or roast ham for breakfast: Great Britain is known for many things, big and small. William Shakespeare is the most famous writer in England and perhaps the world, and the Beatles are the most successful musicians in the country.
Great Britain brought the railroad to its colonies. That is why there are now extensive railroad networks in countries like India. Most railways in the world now run on the left because that was the case in England. This also applies to the rails in mainland Europe, but not to the roads.
Some sports also have their origins in Great Britain. Football became known in many countries around the world. The national team from England has been world champions once so far. Other sports are played at most in countries that were part of the British Empire. Examples are rugby and cricket.
How do people earn their money?
Great Britain was the first country to industrialize. Today, however, hardly any coal is mined and fewer and fewer goods are being produced in the country. This is why many people are unemployed or earn little, especially in the north of England.
Services are particularly important today, especially the so-called financial sector. This refers to banks and other companies that trade in money. London is home to the major London Stock Exchange, where stocks are traded. There are also quite a few tourists in the country, nearly 30 million every year.
Great Britain deals primarily with the USA and China, but also a lot with the countries of the European Union such as Germany and France. Experts have calculated that after Great Britain left the Union with Brexit, it can sell many goods much worse. Many jobs will likely be lost and the country will be poorer.
There is also an article on "Great Britain" for beginners on MiniKlexikon.de and other search results from Blinde Kuh and Ask Finn.
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