Реферат: The United Kingdom of Great Britain

TheUnited Kingdom of Great Britain



The UnitedKingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland since 1922 includes England,Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a lot of smaller islands. British Islesare a group of islands lying off the north-west of Europe. England, Wales andScotland are in Great Britain. Northern Ireland is situated in thenorth-eastern part of Ireland. The larger part of Ireland is the IrishRepublic. «Britania» is the ancient name of Britain.

The UnitedKingdom is washed by the North Sea in the east, the English Channel and theStrait of Dover in the south, the Atlantic Ocean in the north. In the west theUnited Kingdom is separated from the Irish Republic by the Irish Sea and theNorth Channel. The total area of the country is 94,249 square miles, and itspopulation is 57 million people. The UK is an island state: it is composed of5,500 islands, large and small. The two main islands are Great Britain (inwhich are England, Wales and Scotland )to the east and Ireland (in which areNorthern Ireland and the independent Irish Republic) to the west. English isthe official language of the United Kingdom. The inhabitants of the country arethe English, the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish; these four nationalities havetheir own language and culture.

The capital ofthe whole country is London (7 mln); the capital of Wales is Cardiff (284 th);the capital of Scotland is Edinburgh (470 th); the capital of Northern Irelandis Belfast (440 th). There are 46 universities in Britain. The oldest and bestknown are located in Oxford, Cambridge, London, Edinburgh.

The climate ofthe United Kingdom is classified as temperate, cool. All parts of the BritishIsles get a lot of rains in all seasons. It is not very cold in winter andnever very hot in summer. The average temperature in winter is +5C° and insummer is +20°C.

The chiefrivers of the country are: the Severn (the longest), the Thames, the Trent, theClyde and the Mersey. The seas around the country provide good fishing grounds.There are 6 beautiful lakes in England, this part is called «LakeDistrict». Windermere is the largest among them. Scotland also has a lotof lakes which are called «lochs» there. The largest lake in thewhole country is situated in Northern Island, it is Loch Neagh. One of the mostattractive lake in Wales is Vyrnwy. These admirable places attract touristsfrom different countries.

The surface ofEngland and Northern Ireland is flat, but Scotland and Wales are mountainous.The Pemurie Range in northern England and the Cambrian Mountains in Wales arerather low. Lowland Britain is a rich plain with chalk and limestone hills. Thehighest mountain top in the country is Ben Nevis in Highlands of Scotland, itis 1343 metres. The second highest mountain is in Wales, it is Snowdon, it is 1085 meters high. Many parts of the country have beautiful green meadows and hills.

The fauna ofthe British Isles is similar to that of Europe. The number of such largeanimals as bear, reindeer is very small. Here one finds foxes, hares, red deer,badgers, wild cats in most rural areas. Otters and seals may be seen on variousparts of the coast. There are about 430 kinds of birds on the territory of theBritish Isles. Characteristic of the birds are sea gull, duck, goose, redgrouse, dove, black cock, mountain eagle and others. The most numerous areblackbird, sparrow and starling. Robin redbreast is the national bird of thecountry.

There arethree kinds of snakes of which only one is venomous. Sea and river fishare-trout, salmon, pike, grayling and so on. Fish farming production iscentered mainly on salmon and trout.

As for theflora of the British Isles it is relatively poor comparing with that of manyother countries. The most common trees are oak, beech, pine, birch, alder;maple, elm. Heather and moss dominate in the damp soils.

The UnitedKingdom has few mineral resources, of which the most important y are coal andoil. The largest coal fields are in England and Wales. The Welsh coal isconsidered to be the best in the world.

The oil fieldsare situated in the North Sea, along the coast of Scotland and England. Otherminerals are natural gas, iron ore, lead, zinc, slate, lime stone, chalk,copper.

Metallurgy,chiefly iron and steel, is vital to other key industries such as shipbuilding,ship-repairing, automobile and aircraft industries, mechanical engineering,electrical engineering. Electronics, printing, pharmaceutics are the largest ofall manufacturing sectors.

Production oftextiles is spread throughout the country and British wool is well-known in theworld. At the same time the textile machinery industry is an important sectorof British industry. The United Kingdom now is one of the largest exporter ofmanufactured goods. Though the United Kingdom is a highly developed industrialcountry, agriculture remains the major sector of economy. The chiefagricultural products of Britain are wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, sugar-beet,milk, beef, mutton and lamb. Britain has a long tradition of sheep production.Sheep can be seen in many parts of England and Scotland. Now the country canboast of more than 40 breeds. British poultry industry is growing quickly, andpig production is to be found in most parts of Britain.

Thehorticultural industry produces a lot of fruit, vegetables and flowers.Scotland is known for its large raspberry plantations in the world. Strawberryis widely grown… in England. Black currants is grown in all parts of thecountry. The raising of flowers is very popular now. In England you can seefields of tulips stretched for miles. Mushrooms are also grown in speciallyconstructed sheds in many parts of the country.

The UnitedKingdom is a parliamentary monarchy. The country has no Constitution, but a setof laws.

The head ofthe country is the Queen. The official residence of Queen Elizabeth the II isBuckingham Palace. The Royal Standard flying over the Buckingham Palace is thesign that the Queen is in the residence; the absence of the Royal Standardmeans that the Queen is absent. Every year 6 million pounds is spent forkeeping on monarchy. Everything in the country officially is done in the nameof the Queen. The Queen's image appears on stamps, notes and coins.

BritishParliament sits in the Palace of Westminster in the center of London. There aretwo towers in the Palace of Westminster: the Victoria Tower and The Clock Tower(called Big Ben). The British Flag (called the Union Jack) flying from theVictoria Tower shows that Parliament is in session. The light in the ClockTower also indicates that Parliament is in session.

The Queen'spower is limited by Parliament, which consists of the House of Commons and theHouse of Lords. The Queen enters the Palace of Westminster only on the day ofthe opening of Parliament at the beginning of a session. She makes her speechfrom the Throne in the House of Lords.

The members ofthe House of Commons, are elected by the population for a period of five years.There are 651 members of the House of Commons, most of them are professionalpoliticians, lawyer*;. The members of the House of Commons belong to differentpolitical parties. The Speaker is the chairman of all the debates in the Houseof Commons. His duty is to keep order. He sits on a beautiful chair, a gift fromAustralia and Canada to Mother Country. The Speaker is elected by the Members ofthe House of Commons. He never votes with other members. The government of thecountry is formed by the party which has the majority of members elected toParliament. The Queen appoints its leader the Prime Minister. As the head ofthe Government the Prime Minister appoints about 100 ministers, of whom about20 are in the Cabinet. The British Government is in the Whitehall.

The PrimeMinister of the country is responsible for the policy conducted by Parliament. Asfor the House of Lords many people consider this system undemocratic becausethe number of Lords is 1000-1200 but they are not elected by the population.The House of Lords consists of princes, marquises, viscounts, barons, peers,Bishops of the Church. The chairman of the House of Lords is the LordChancellor, he sits on the wool sack, a large bag of wool, covered with a redcloth. This shows that wool made England rich. The House of Lords has no realpower but acts rather as advisory council for the House of Commons.

The session inParliament begins at the end of October and lasts for about 160 days.There arethree main political parties in the United Kingdom: the Labour, theConservative and the Liberal parties.

One of theoldest flags in the world is the British one. Its crosses stand for the patronsaints of England (St. George's flag which has a red cross with extendedhorizontals on a white field), Scotland (St. Andrew's flag which has a whitecross on a blue field), and Ireland (St. Patrick's flag which has a red crosson a white field).The arms of the crosses do not meet at the center. Somehistorians say that the British flag got the name of Union Jack from James 1under whom Scotland and England were united in the 17th century.

The nationalanthem of the country is " God Save the Queen".


1 .What is theofficial name of Great Britain?

2. Where is itsituated?

3. What partsdoes it consist of?

4. Whatterritory does the United Kingdom occupy?

5. Why is theclimate of the British Isles milder than that one of the Continent?,

6. The UnitedKingdom is a highly developed industrial country isn't it? Prove bit.

7.Are thereany famous educational establishments in Great Britain?

8.What can yousay about the political system of the country

9.What city isthe capital of Great Britain?

10. Who is thePrime Minister of Great Britain?


Are they onepeople? How did they evolve? How many are there? What are their rights? Whatjobs do they do? How do they live? What-do they believe? What do they enjoy?

The answers tothese questions provide a broad profile of ordinary citizens living in Britaintoday — their traditions, aspirations, talents, differences and habits. Thefollowing text traces the historical assimilation of the people of Britain, andidentifies the political, economic, social and cultural influences and pursuitsthat determine and typify the British way of life.


Britain liesoff the north-west coast of mainland Europe. Its full name is the UnitedKingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Great Britain comprisingEngland, Scotland and Wales. Although Britain is a unitary state, theconstituent countries have separate national identities, variations in cultureand tradition, and different physical characteristics.

With an areaof some 242,000 sq km (93,000 sq miles), Britain is just under 1,000 km (about 600 miles) from the south coast to the extreme north of Scotland and just under 500 km (300 miles) across in the widest part.

England ispredominantly a lowland country, with upland regions in the north (such as thePennine Chain, the Cumbrian mountains and the Yorkshire moorlands) and thedowns in central southern England, which are low chalk hill ranges. Whales is acountry of hills and mountains, the highest being Snowdon at 1,085 m (3,560 ft). Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis (1,343 m, 4,406 ft), is in the central highlands of Scotland, which contains large areas of wild,unspoilt landscape. Northern Ireland is at its nearest point only 21 km (13 miles) from Scotland. It has a 488-km (303-mile) border in the south and west with theIrish Republic. At its centre lies Lough Neagh, Britain's largest freshwaterlake (396 sq km, 153 sq miles).

Britain hasfrequent weather changes through the seasonal cycle of winter, spring, summerand autumn, although temperatures rarely exceed 32°C or fall below -10°C. Rainfall is fairly well distributed throughout the year.

People in thefour lands of Britain derive from a host of ancestral sources, notably: theprehistoric cultures which produced such impressive monuments as the stonecircles of Avebury and Stonehenge; the ancient Celtic peoples who inhabitedwestern and central Europe; the Romans who occupied Britain for over 300 yearsfrom the invasion in AD 43; the Angles, Saxons and Jutes — Germanic peoples whobegan raiding and settling in Britain from the third century; Scots fromIreland, who began to settle in what became known as Scotland in the sixthcentury (merging with the indigenous Picts to form one kingdom under KennethMacalpin in the ninth century); the Vikings from Scandinavia, who pillaged andsettled areas of Britain and Ireland from the end of the eighth century; and theNormans from France, who invaded England in 1066.

The lastthousand years have witnessed the assimilation of all these strands -and manynew ones besides, following on from global exploration, the expansion of tradeand international rivalry, and the growth of the Empire.

At the sametime political, social, economic and religious trends, pressures and criseshave all evolved to create the beliefs, lifestyle and expectations that areprevalent among the people today.


Roman rule wasvery influential in Britain's evolution, not least in the founding of towns andcities so many of which are familiar to the people today. For example, Londonand Lincoln largely preserve their Roman names — Londinium and Lindum Coloniarespectively — while others, such as Chester, Gloucester and Colchester, betraytheir origins by the '-Chester' or '-cester1 ending. This name, derived fromthe Latin castra, was given to the Roman sites by the Anglo-Saxons.


Christianity — which had been introduced to Britain under the Romans — was reintroduced topagan England in the sixth and seventh centuries. The Catholic Church sent StAugustine to preach and establish bishoprics in 597. Since that time,Christianity has remained the predominant faith among people in Britain.


From the fifthcentury onwards a number of small kingdoms emerged in England. These graduallyevolved into fewer, larger groupings — particularly Northumbria in the north,Mercia in the midlands and Wessex in the south. During the ninth centuryVikings from Scandinavia overran all these kingdoms except Wessrx, where Alfredthe Great, who reigned from M71 to 899, successfully resisted the invaders, hithe tenth century the Wessex dynasty came to rule the whole of England. Thepresent Royal Family is partly descended from the royal line of Wessex.


The lastsuccessful foreign invasion of England took place in 1066, when Duke William ofNormandy defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings. The

NormanConquest led to closer links with the mainland of Europe. Normans and othersfrom France came to settle, and French became the language of the nobility andthe law courts for the next three centuries,


hi 1215 KingJohn signed Magna Carta (Great Charier) in the face of demands by barons. Itsecured feudal rights and established areas over which the King had nojurisdiction, and has been interpreted throughout English history asguaranteeing certain political and civil liberties. The rest of the 13thcentury saw the development of Parliament as a gathering of feudal barons andrepresentatives of counties and towns summoned by the King. By the end of thecentury, it had adopted its basic makeup of Lords and Commons, and it hadestablished the right to approve taxation. It also soon acquired the right toapprove new laws.


Between 1534and 1540 King Henry VIII of the Tudor dynasty broke with the Papacy in Rome,heralding the English Reformation and the establishment of the Church ofEngland. Despite the suppression of the monasteries, the Church remainedlargely unaffected until the reign of his son Edward VI (1547-53), whenProtestantism became the official religion of England.

Popularhostility to the Papacy remained widespread for centuries, hi Ireland,differences between the religious traditions remain very marked to this day.


Thesubjugation of Wales by the English had been completed in the late 13th centuryby Edward I, who gave his infant son, later Edward II, the title of Prince ofWales — still carried today by the monarch's eldest son. Between 1536 and 1542Acts of Union integrated England and Wales administratively and legally andgave Wales representation in Parliament.


Hostilitybetween Parliament and the Crown led to the outbreak of civil war in 1642. Theeventual victory of the Parliamentary army heralded the execution of Charles Iin 1649, the temporary abolition of the monarchy (until 1660), and the rule ofOliver Cromwell as Lord Protector.


In 1685 JamesII, a Roman Catholic, became king (succeeding his brother, Charles II).However, as he lost popularity for his autocratic rule and pro-Catholicpolicies, his Protestant Dutch son-in-law, William of Orange, was invited byleading politicians to intervene. The result was the bloodless or 'GloriousRevolution* in which James found himself practically without support and wasoverthrown. The crown was offered jointly to William and his wife Mary. The followingyear the Bill of Rights was passed, establishing the political supremacy ofParliament.


Scotlandremained a separate kingdom throughout the Middle Ages, often at war withEngland. Realising the benefits of closer political and economic union, Englandand Scotland agreed in 1707 on a single Parliament for Great Britain. Scotlandretained its own system of law and church settlement. The Union became strainedin the first half of the 18th century, when two Jacobite uprisings attempted torestore the Catholic Stuart dynasty to the throne.


The 17th and18th centuries saw considerable overseas expansion by Britain. The foundationof the colonies in North America was followed by other major acquisitions, incompetition with the French and other European powers. Despite the NorthAmerican colonies winning the War of Independence between 1775 and 1783,Britain continued to extend its rule through the 19th century over a large partof the world — a process from which the modern Commonwealth eventually emerged.


The IndustrialRevolution, which was a key development in shaping the face of modern Britain,took place between about 1760 and 1830. Britain was the first country in theworld to industrialise, pioneering many technologies and large-scale productionprocesses. In pursuit of work in the new mills and factories, peopleconcentrated in the industrial centres which developed in particular areas ofthe country. The cities which rose to prominence as manufacturing andcommercial centres, such as Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield, remain amongthe principal centres of population today. Transport was revolutionised in thisperiod, with the construction of a wide network of canals in the late 18thcentury, many of which are still in use today. These were followed in the early19th century by the advent of the railways, the world's first passenger railwayopening between Stockton and Darlington in 1825. Although slums developed inmany of the emerging industrial towns, some of the more philanthropic mill andfactory owners sought to provide better facilities for their employees. One ofthese model settlements for industrial workers was Saltaire near Bradford,built by Titus Salt in the late 19th century. As well as the mill and theworkers' houses, Salt also built civic facilities such as the church and aschool.


In 1801 thefirst census of population in England and Wales was held. There has been acensus in Britain every ten years since that date, except in 1941 when warintervened. Census information is used by central and local government to helpmake financial allocations and plan services.


Freedom ofconscience in religious matters was achieved gradually from the 17th centuryonwards. Laws discriminating against minority religious groups wereadministered less harshly and then finally repealed. Catholic emancipation in1829 relieved Catholics in Britain of the legal and civil restrictionsaccumulated since the time of the English Reformation. Religious freedom forall people in Britain has since become an accepted right.


Today peoplein Britain take for granted the right to vote in national and local elections(see p. 15). However, at one time the vote was confined to a very narrow groupof men. The widening of the franchise started with the Reform Acts of 1832 and1867, continued in 1884, 1918 and 1928, and was completed in 1969 when theminimum voting age was reduced to 18. The Ballot Act of 1872 gave voters themeans to keep their vote secret — an arrangement that has stood the test oftime so well that even the official specification for the design of the ballotbox is virtually identical to that of the late 19th century.


The formalconnection between Great Britain and Ireland dates from the Norman invasion ofIreland in the 12th century. In the late 1550s and early 1600s English and ScottishProtestants migrated to the northern province of Ulster, their religion settingthem apart from the other, indigenous Roman Catholic inhabitants of Ireland. In1801 Ireland was unified with Great Britain, but Irish Nationalists continuedto campaign in the 19th and early 20th centuries for some measure ofindependence. At the same time, the Protestant Unionist majority in the northresisted any moves towards Irish home rale. In 1921 the Anglo-Irish Treatyestablished the Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion, but NorthernIreland exercised its right to opt out and remain part of the United Kingdom.

Between 1922and 1972 Northern Ireland was governed by a Parliament responsible for a rangeof local affairs but, following the upsurge in intercommunal violence in thelate 1960s and early 1970s, it has been ruled directly by Westminster since1972. Successive British Governments have tried to find the basis for returninggreater power to Northern Ireland's locally elected representatives, but agreementhas proved elusive.

In December1993 the British and Irish Governments made a declaration stating that anysettlement would be based on the principles of democracy and consent, and couldonly be reached by agreement between parties with a commitment to exclusivelypeaceful methods. This was 'followed by both the nationalist and loyalistparamilitaries announcing ceasefires in August and October 1994. The BritishGovernment has since continued to work to create the right conditions forall-party talks, with the aim of achieving an overall settlement. This hasincluded the publication of the Frameworks for the Future document in February1995.


The 1940s saweducational and social welfare developments, the broad principles of which aremaintained today, hi 1944 a new Education Act for England and Wales allowed fora great expansion of education provided by the State (see p. 31). A newMinistry of Education was empowered to develop a national education policy. Also,the school system was divided into two levels, primary and secondary, makingsecondary education to the age of 15 compulsory.

Hi 1942 thegovernment-sponsored TrJeveridge report' proposed a comprehensive scheme ofsocial insurance covering the whole community, forming the basis of much of thepresent social security system. Legislation in 1946 provided for theestablishment of Britain's National Health Service (NHS), the mostcomprehensive medical care scheme of its time. The NHS has since provided a fullrange of mainly free medical services, available to all British residentsregardless of their income.


At the deathof Queen Victoria in 1901 the British Empire had expanded to almost one-fifthof the world land mass and one-quarter of the world population. However, fromthat time it decentralised. Self-governing dominions, such as Canada andAustralia, were described in 1926 as autonomous members of the oBritishCommonwealth of Nations'. Most other colonies, beginning with India and Pakistan,were granted independence by Britain after 1945, and most of them joined theCommonwealth.

Immigrationfrom former territories in the Caribbean and the South Asian sub-continent wassubstantial in the 1950s and 1960s, forming the basis of the ethnic minoritypopulation in Britain today.


At the end ofthe Second World War in 1945 the economies of most European countries were inruins. In addition, the then Soviet Union's Communist influence was expanding.In the face of these challenges, the countries of

Western Europesought to co-operate in their reconstruction and to organise themselves in sucha way that wars between them would not recur.

Out of theconsequent negotiations emerged what is now termed the European Union — an associationof sovereign nations, initially comprising six member states in the 1950s butexpanding progressively over the years to the current membership of 15. Britainjoined in 1973 and its links with its European Union partners have since becomeever more closely integrated, influencing the lives of all its citizens.


Britain has apopulation of about 58 million people, the 17th largest in the world. The greatmajority, 48.7 million, live in England; Scotland has just over 5 million people,Wales 2.9 million and Northern Ireland about 1.6 million. The populationdensity is well above the

European Unionaverage. England is the most densely populated, with 373 people per sq km, andScotland the least, with 67 people per sq km. The great majority of people areconcentrated in towns and cities, although there has been a trend, especiallyin the capital London for people to move away from congested urban centres intothe suburbs.

In 1994 therewere 751,000 live births in Britain, compared with 626,000 deaths. The birthrate is relatively low at 12.9 live births per 1,000 population. This is inpart due to a trend towards later marriage and towards postponing births.

The averageage of women having children has risen to over 28 years in England and Wales.There is also a greater preference for smaller families than in the past, whichhas led to a significant decline in the proportion of families with four ormore children. In addition, more widespread and effective contraception hasmade it easier to plan families.

Lifeexpectancy for men in Britain is about 73 years and for women 78 years(compared with 49 years for men and 52 years for women at the start of thecentury). The general death rate in 1994 was 10.7 per 1,000 of the population.There has been a decline in mortality at most ages, particularly amongchildren, reflecting better nutrition, rising living standards, medicaladvances and improved health measures, wider education and the smaller size offamilies.

Deaths causedby circulatory diseases (including heart attacks and strokes) now account fornearly half of all deaths, and mortality from heart disease in England andWales remains high compared with that of other developed countries. The nextlargest cause of death is cancer, which is responsible for nearly one-quarterof deaths. The Government has developed a national health strategy foraddressing the major causes of premature death and preventable illness amongpeople in Britain.

Britain hasone of the highest marriage and divorce rates in the European Union, hi 1993there were 341,600 marriages in Britain, of which 38.4 per cent wereremarriages of one or both parties. Of the population aged 16 or over inEngland and Wales in 1992, 57 per cent were married, 27 per cent were single, 9per cent were widowed and 7 per cent were divorced. The average age for firstmarriages in England and Wales is now about 28.2 for men and 26.2 for women.

Hi 1993 in England and Wales there were about 14 divorces for every 1,000 married couples. The averageage of spouses at the time of divorce is now about 39.3 for men and just over37.6 for women. Divorce rates are lower in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Hi common withmany other Western European countries, there has been an increase incohabitation (unmarried couples living together) in Britain. About 18 per centof non-married men and women aged 16-59 in Great Britain were cohabiting in 1992. There is some evidence of a growing number of stablenon-married relationships. Roughly half of all births outside marriage (whichaccounted for 32 per cent of live births in Britain in 1994) are registered byboth parents giving a single address as their place of residence.


One of themost significant changes in the a structure of Britain's population over thelast 30 years has been the increasing proportion of people over retirement age(65 for men and 60 for women) — some 11 million today, and their numberscontinue to grow. This has important implications for social services provisioninto the next century.

Most elderlypeople in Britain live healthy and independent lives. Nearly all want to bepart of the community, living in their own homes. Many view their later yearsas an opportunity to do the things they never previously had the time for, orto take on new interests or challenges. For instance, adult educational andrecreational courses run by local authorities throughout Britain are wellattended by older people, and some sports, such as bowls, attract many elderlyparticipants.

Yet a lot ofolder people — perhaps living alone, in poor health or disabled in some way — have important needs, hi addition to the large amount of willing help fromrelatives, neighbours and friends, practical support for Britain's elderlypeople is provided by the social services authorities, voluntary organisationsand, to a lesser extent, the private sector.

Services forelderly people are designed help them live at home whenever possible. I fact,only about 5 per cent of people aged over 65 in Britain live in institutional accommodation. These services may include advice and help fromvisiting social workers, assistance with domestic chores and the provision ofmeals in the home. Day centres and lunch clubs are very popular among olderpeople as they provide, in addition to a hot meal and facilities such as alaundry, an important focal point for social contact They may also offerleisure and educational activities, many of which are run by older peoplethemselves.

Localauthorities and voluntary organisations operate special transport services toenable less mobile elderly people to get to day centres or to visit the shoos,the doctor, family or friends. There are concessionary fares for residentpensioners on most bus services, and special discounts are available on coachand rail travel.

Specialhousing needs for the elderly are met by local authorities, housingassociations, voluntary bodies and the private sector. Sheltered housingschemes may consist of groups of flats or small houses where older people canlive independently but still have the support of a resident warden. For thosepeople who are too infirm to continue to live independently there areresidential homes providing full board, or nursing homes offering 24-hourpersonal care.


The home isthe central focus of most young people's lives in Britain, particularly forthose who are still attending school (see p.31). The majority rely upon theirhome environment as a place of security and upon their parents as the mainproviders of food, money and other necessary amenities for life — as well asgeneral advice. Young people spend a large proportion of their leisure time inthe home with other members of their family or with friends.

After thehome, school is the main social environment where children not only receivetheir formal education but also develop their identities within peer groups.All schoolchildren in Britain are encouraged to take up activities whichcomplement their academic and vocational education and help to identify theirindividual talents, such as sports, drama, music and creative pursuits. Many ofthese form part of school curricula.

The personaldevelopment and informal social education of young people aged 11-25 is alsopromoted by the Youth Service in Britain. The Service is a partnership betweenstatutory authorities and a large number of voluntary organisations. A recentsurvey estimated that nearly 6 million young people in this age group areeither current or past participants in the Service.

Youth clubsand centres are the most common types of Youth Service provision, encouragingtheir members to participate in sport, cultural and creative activities, andcommunity service. Some also provide information and counselling. Youth clubsmay be branches of national or international bodies or they may be entirelylocal institutions.

There are manyreligious groups and churches with specialist youth organisations, as well asuniformed organisations such as the Guides and Scouts Associations and Boys'and Girls' Brigades.

Finance isprovided by many foundations and trusts for activities which develop the latenttalents of Britain's young people. The Prince's Trust and the Royal JubileeTrust, for example, help individuals and organisations active in youth-orientedprojects related to urban deprivation, unemployment, homelessness and youngoffending. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme challenges young people toachieve certain standards in community service, expeditions, social andpractical skills and physical recreation.


There is aratio of about 104 females to every 100 males in Britain. There are about 3 percent more male than female births every year. Because of the higher mortalityof men at all ages, there is a turning point, at about 50 years of age, beyondwhich the number of women exceeds the number of men. This imbalance increaseswith age so that there are many more women among the elderly.

The economicand domestic lives of women have been transformed in during the 20th century.These changes are partly due to the removal of discrimination in political andlegal rights which has promoted sex equality. Another major feature has beenthe increase in the number of women, especially married women, at work. Thegrowth of part-time and flexible working patterns, and training and retrainingschemes, has allowed more women to take advantage of employment opportunities.Childcare provision, such as day nurseries and childminders, has also increasedsignificantly, extending choice and opportunity for women beyond the scope ofhome and family.

Women now makeup over two-fifths of the workforce in Britain, and about 800,000 run their ownbusinesses. They are increasingly represented in the professions. Theproportion of public appointments held by women has risen to 30 per cent, andthe number of women Members of Parliament has increased to over 60.

Women take uparound all further and higher education places, and the provision of 'access'courses has helped those returning to education.


For centuriespeople from overseas have settled in Britain, either to escape political orreligious persecution or in search of better economic opportunities. The Irishhave long formed a large section of the population. Jewish refugees who came toBritain towards the end of the 19th century and in the 1930s were followed byother European refugees after 1945. Substantial immigration from the formercolonies in the Caribbean and the South Asian sub-continent dates principallyfrom the 1950s and 1960s. There are also sizeable groups from the United Statesand

Canada, aswell as Australians, Chinese, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Italians andSpaniards.

Since 1962Britain has necessarily imposed controls limiting the number of immigrants tolevels the country can absorb, both economically and socially. ImmigrationRules set out the requirements to be met by people (excluding British citizens)who seek entry to or leave to remain in Britain. Nationals of European Unionmember states are not subject to substantive immigration control, and may workin Britain without restriction.

In the 1991census just over 3 million people (5.5 per cent) described themselves asbelonging to an ethnic group other than the 'white' group. Nearly half of theethnic minority population were born in Britain. A higher proportion is under16 than for the white group, but a much lower proportion is over pensionableage.

Many membersof the black and Asian communities are concentrated in the inner cities, withrelated problems of deprivation, However, much progress has been made over thelast 20 years in tackling racial disadvantage in Britain through equalopportunities policies backed up by anti-discrimination legislation, andthrough the social, economic and educational initiatives of central and localgovernment.

Many individualsfrom the ethnic minority communities have achieved distinction in their careersand in public life, and the proportion occupying professional and managerialpositions is increasing. There are at present six ethnic minority Members ofParliament, and the number of ethnic minority councillors in local governmentis growing. There has also been an expansion of commercial enterprise, andnumerous self-help projects in ethnic minority communities have beenestablished. Black competitors have represented Britain in a range of sportingactivities (such as athletics and football), and ethnic minority talents in thearts and in entertainment have increasingly been recognised.

The Britishpeople enjoy a long-established democratic way of life, sustained by freeelections, freedom of speech and open and equal treatment before the law. Theserights are balanced by responsibilities, since a democratic society can onlyfunction when the people participate actively in its institutions.


The basicprinciple of British democracy is that the people elect Members of Parliament(MPs) to the House of Commons to which the Government is accountable. Thesystem provides effective channels for British citizens to influence theirgovernment as well as checks and balances to prevent any government fromexceeding its powers. MPs have a duty to deal with problems and queries raisedby their constituents, local organisations and pressure groups.

The mostdirect opportunity for the individual to influence the national political sceneis during general elections (and by-elections) to the House of Commons, thecentre of parliamentary power. Citizens aged IS and over, with a fewexceptions, have the right to vote by secret ballot, 'although voting is notcompulsory. Britain is divided into 651 constituencies, each represented by oneMP. The average number of voters in a constituency ranges between 55,000 and70,000.

Any Britishcitizen, with few exceptions, can stand for election if aged 21 or over.Elections to the House of Commons have to be held at least once every fiveyears. If an MP resigns or dies during the life of a Parliament a by-electionis held.

In the 1992general election 76.6 per cent of a total electorate of 43.3 million peopleexercised their right to vote. Support for the Conservatives is strongest inthe southern half of England and East Anglia, while the Labour Party is moresuccessful in Wales, Scotland and in urban industrialised areas. Support forthe third largest party, the Liberal Democrats, is particularly strong in thesouth west of England. Unionist (Protestant) panics hold the majority of theparliamentary seats in Northern Ireland, and a handful of seats are held by twonationalist parties in Scotland and Wales. Support among British people forextremist political views is relatively small. British voters also elect 87representatives to the European Parliament, which monitors the operation of theEuropean Union. Direct elections take place in all Union member states everyfive years.


As well astaking part in parliamentary elections, people in Britain elect theirrepresentatives to local councils which provide services such as education,public housing, personal social services, police and fire brigades. Many candidatesat local government elections stand as representatives of the main politicalparties, although there are some independent candidates, and some representlocal interests. Candidates must live or work in the area of the localauthority to which they seek election. Councillors serve part-time and areunpaid, except for certain expenses.


In addition toparticipation in parliamentary and local elections, people in Britain haveother ways of expressing their views and trying to influence the way theirlives are governed. Millions of people support pressure groups, which areinformal organisations representing a vast array of interests and causes, andwhich are free to express their opinions and conduct campaigns withoutgovernment interference. Pressure groups aim to influence those who are inauthority in the way decisions are made-and carried out.

There is ahuge range of pressure groups, covering areas such as politics, business,employment, consumer affairs, ethnic minorities, aid to developing countries,foreign relations, education, culture, defence, religion, sport, transport,health, social welfare, animal welfare and the environment. Some have over amillion members; others only a few dozen. Some exert pressure on a number ofdifferent issues; others are only concerned with a single issue. Some have cometo play a role in the way Britain is governed; others seek influence throughradical protest.


In Britainthere is a long tradition of voluntary service to the community. There arehundreds of thousands of voluntary organisations, ranging from national bodiesto small local groups. Their activities range from helping to relieve povertythroughout the world to running a local village hall. Self-help groups have beenthe fastest expanding area of the voluntary sector over the last 20 years.

Voluntaryorganisations may be staffed by professional workers, but many rely on theefforts of volunteers at some level. It has been estimated that up to half ofall British adults take part in some form of organised voluntary activityduring the course of a year. Many volunteers are involved in work whichimproves the quality of life in their local communities or, more widely, givetheir time to help organise events and groups in areas as diverse as socialwelfare, education, sport and the arts. A very large number are also involvedin activities to protect or improve the environment (see p. 34).

Some peoplenot only give up their leisure time for others but also put their own lives atrisk. Around 10,000 volunteers are members of either the Royal NationalLifeboat Institution, the Mountain Rescue Committee of Great Britain or theBritish Cave Rescue Council.


Every citizenin Britain has the right to open and equal treatment before the law (althoughEngland and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have their own legalsystems). Law in Britain is formulated and enforced on behalf of the people andthere is a long tradition of the general public participating in that process.Alongside the police and professional judiciary, ordinary citizens maycontribute to the fair and efficient administration of justice as magistrates,jurors and witnesses.

Members of thepublic who are not formally trained in law may become lay magistrates orJustices of the Peace.

Magistrates'torn Is (district courts in Scotland) air local courts, silling without a jury,which deal with summary offences — less serious offences and the vast majorityof criminal cases. Unpaid lay magistrates are usually recommended for the jobby committees of local people.

The moreserious criminal cases are tried in the higher courts before a judge and a juryof 12 people (15 in Scotland). It is the jury's role in a trial to determinethe guilt or innocence of a defendant. People between the ages of 18 and 70 (65 in Scotland) whose names appear on the electoral register, with certain exceptions, are liable forjury service and their names are chosen at random. Jury service typically lastsbetween five and ten working days and citizens are only excused for validreasons. Some people may also be required to attend a court hearing as awitness either for the prosecution or the defence.


The police areresponsible for enforcing the law in Britain. The 52 forces are responsible tothe local communities they serve. Forces are accountable to committees ofelected local councillors, lay justices and nominees, who in turn have a dutyto listen to the views of people in their area about policing objectives andplans.

There areabout 150,000 full-time police officers in Britain, of whom around 12 per centare women. They are backed up by special constables — volunteer officers whoare attached to each force and perform auxiliary police duties, without pay, intheir spare time.


The men andwomen who comprise Britain's regular armed forces are paid professionals whoenlist voluntarily. There is no conscription, hi April 1995 their strength wasover 233,000. The forces are under the command of the elected government andhave no independent political role. As is the case with the police, members ofthe armed forces are subject to the law in the same way as any civilian.

Hi addition totheir military role, the armed services help the civil authorities whenrequired, for example in search and rescue missions at sea or duringemergencies brought about by bad weather.

The regularforces are supplemented by trained reserve and auxiliary forces. Some of thesebecome reservists following a period of regular service; others are volunteerswho train in their spare time.

Britain has ahigher proportion of the adult population in work — 70 per cent -than any otherlarge European country. The labour market has changed considerably in recentyears, with a growing proportion of people working in service industries (suchas financial services, education, medical services, retailing, catering,transport and communication). Nearly three-quarters of employees now work inthe service sector, compared with around one-fifth in manufacturing. Other majorchanges have been the rising proportion of women in the workforce and theincrease in part-time employment.


In mid-1995the workforce in employment in Britain totalled 25.7 million. Of these, 21.9million (11 million men and over 10.8 million women) were classed as employeesin employment, and about 3.3 million were self-employed. The remainder wereeither in the armed forces or on work-related government training programmes. Recenttrends show a continuing fall in full-time employment, but part-time employmenthas increased over the last decade by 1.3 million to 6.1 million — about 2 percent of those in employment. About 44 per cent of women in employment workpart-time, compared with 8 per cent of men.

The number ofemployees engaged in service industries in Great Britain in mid-1995 was 15.4million, about 2 million more than in 1985. There has been a gradual move awayfrom manual to non-manual occupations, which now account for nearlythree-fifths of jobs.


The variedskills of working people throughout Britain are reflected in a vast range ofprofessional, vocational, technical and other pursuits.


There has beena considerable increase in passenger travel in recent years -29 per centbetween 1984 and 1994. Travel by car and van rose by 38 per cent, and airtravel was up by about two-thirds. In all, car and van travel accounts for 87per cent of passenger mileage within Great Britain. Car ownership has alsorisen substantially, hi all, 68 per cent of households in Great Britain had theregular use of one or more cars in 1994; 23 per cent had the use of two or morecars.

Trafficmanagement schemes are used in many urban areas to reduce congestion, create abetter environment and improve road safety. Although Great Britain has one ofthe highest densities of road traffic in the world, it has a good record onsafety, with the lowest road accident death rate in the European Union.

The railpassenger network in Britain comprises a fast inter-city network linking themain centres of Great Britain; local stopping services; and commuter servicesin and around the large conurbations, especially London and south-east England.Rail services have been further improved by the new Channel Tunnel, linkingBritain's 16,500-km (10,252-mile) rail network to that of the Europeanmainland.

LondonUnderground operates services on 392 km (245 miles) of railway, of which about 170 km (106 miles) are underground. The system has 245 stations, and a further extension is under construction. About 764 millionpassenger journeys were made on London

Undergroundtrains in 1994-95. The Docklands Light Railway, a 22-km (14-mile) route with 27stations, connects the City of London with areas in east London. Urban lightrail lines also operate in Glasgow, Tyne and Wear, Greater Manchester andSheffield; similar mass transit schemes are planned in other big cities.

In 1994 therewere 37 million international passenger trips by sea between Britain and therest of the world. Almost all the passengers who arrived at or departed fromBritish ports travelled to or from the continent of Europe or the IrishRepublic. In the same year about 236,000 people embarked on pleasure cruisesfrom British ports.

Air travel hasrisen substantially in recent years. In 1994 some 96 million passengerstravelled by air (international terminal passengers) to or from Britain, a 10per cent increase on 1993. British airlines carried 43,9 million passengers onscheduled services and 27.1 million on charter flights.


Markedimprovements in the standard of living for people in Britain have taken placeduring the 20th century. According to a United Nations report published in1994, Britain ranked tenth out of 173 countries on a human development indexthat combines life expectancy, education levels and basic purchasing power.

Earnings fromemployment remain the main source of household income for most people, althoughother sources such as private pensions and annuities have become more importantDisposable income — the amount of money people have available to spend afterincome tax, National Insurance and contributions to pension schemes have beendeducted — is now at its highest-ever level. Since the 1970s there has beenlittle change in the distribution of marketable wealth, nearly half of which isowned by the richest 10 per cent of people. A large proportion of personalwealth in Britain — 30 per cent in 1993 — is in residential property. TheGovernment's privatisation programme has contributed to the growth of shareownership, hi 1993 about 10 million people — 22 per cent of the adultpopulation of Great Britain -owned shares, compared with 7 per cent in 1979.

Average weeklyhousehold spending in Britain in 1994-95 was about ?284. Food and housing costsconstituted 18 and 16 per cent of this. Transport and leisure pursuitsaccounted for about 15 and 16 per cent.


Largelydepending on their means, people 111 Britain live in a diverse range ofaccommodation ranging from country mansions to single rooms or hostels in the innercities. The majority, however, live in houses and (to a lesser extent) flats,either as owner-occupiers or as tenants paving rent. About 19 per cent ofhouses are detached, 31 per cent are semi-detached and 29 per cent areterraced. Purpose-built flats or maisonettes make up 15 per cent of the housingstock and converted flats or rooms account for 5 per cent.

Owner-occupation,which is central to government housing policy in Britain, increasedsubstantially — from 49 per cent to 67 per cent — between 1971 and 1994. Thenumber of owner-occupied homes amounted to 15.8 million at the end of 1993,compared with 4.1 million in 1950. Most people buy their homes with a mortgageloan, with the property as security. Building societies are the largest sourceof such loans, although banks and other financial institutions also take asignificant share of the mortgage market. There arc some 5 million houses andin the public housing sector. Most of the public housing in Great Britain is providedby local housing authorities. Thirty-seven per cent of local authority tenantslive in purpose-built flats or maisonettes, 33 per cent in terraced houses and25 per cent in semi-detached houses. Most have the right to buy the homes theyoccupy if they wish.

Housingassociations, which are non-profit-making, are now the main providers ofadditional low-cost housing for rent and for sale to those on low incomes andin the greatest housing need. The housing association sector is expandingrapidly; associations now own, manage and maintain over 950,000 homes and about65,000 hostel and special needs bed-spaces in Great Britain, providing homesfor well over a million people.

Almost 10 percent of households are rented from private landlords.


The mostcommon leisure activities among people in Britain are home-based, or social,such as visiting relatives or friends.

Watchingtelevision is by far the most popular leisure pastime. Nearly every householdhas a television set, and average viewing time is over 25 hours a week. Themajority of households also have a video recorder.

Other regularpastimes include listening to the radio and to recorded music. About 70 percent of the population listen to local and national radio on an average day.Purchases of compact discs have risen very rapidly, and in 1992 for the firsttime exceeded the sales of audio cassettes. The proportion of households with acompact disc player increased from 15 per cent in 1989 to 39 per cent in 1993.

Many people intheir spare time enjoy reading (over 50 per cent belong to a library),gardening, do-it-yourself home improvements, undertaking voluntary work, goingout for a meal or drink (see Eating and Drinking Habits on p.27) or to thecinema. More daily newspapers, national and regional, are sold for every personin Britain than in most other developed countries. On an average day 60 percentof people over the age of 15 read a national morning paper; 70 per cent read aSunday newspaper.

The Britishare renowned as animal lovers, and about half of all households have a pet,most commonly dogs and cats.


In 1994, 60per cent of the adult population took at least one holiday of four or morenights away from home. Nearly 58 million such holidays were taken by Britishresidents, 31.5 million of them within Britain. The most popular destinationsfor summer holidays in Britain are the West Country, Scotland and Wales. Augustis the most popular month for taking holidays.

Of the majorfree seaside attractions, the most frequented were Blackpool Pleasure Beach inLancashire (with an estimated 7.2 million visitors), the Palace Pier inBrighton and the Pleasure Beach at Great Yarmouth. In 1994 the most populardestinations for overseas holidays by British residents were France (12 percent), mainland Spain (11 per cent) and the United States (8 per cent), hi all,British residents took 26.3 million holidays overseas in 1994, of which 57 percent involved 'package1 arrangements (covering both transport and accommodation).About 77 per cent of all holidays abroad are taken in Europe.

The proportionof adults taking two or more holidays a year was 26 per cent in 1994.


Although sometraditional meals in Britain, like roast beef and Yorkshire pudding or fish andchips, remain popular, there has been a significant shift in eating habitsamong the population over the last decade or so. This is in part due to agreater emphasis on health and convenience considerations.

Consumption ofseveral items, such as packet sugar, eggs, potatoes and fresh green vegetables,has declined substantially. An increase in the consumption of rice and pastamay be partly responsible for the decline in that of potatoes. Consumption ofmeat — with the exception of that of poultry which is now at a record level — has also fallen. Skimmed milk now constitutes more than half of the totalhousehold consumption of liquid milk. There has been a decline in the totalconsumption of cooking and spreading fats, with large falls in butter and lardusage being offset by rapid rises in the consumption of vegetable and saladoils and reduced fat spreads. A switch in fish consumption away from freshwhite fish towards canned fish and shellfish has been evident. There has been asmall increase in the intake of fibre.

Britain has awide range of restaurants, offering cuisine from virtually every country.Chinese, Indian, Italian and Greek restaurants are among the most popular.

There has beenlittle change in recent years in the amount of alcohol that people drink. Beer,including lager, is the most popular drink among male drinkers, whose overallalcohol consumption is significantly higher than that of women. The largestconsumers of alcohol are in the 18 to 24 age range. Table wine has become morepopular, although there has been little change in the consumption of strongerwines such as sherry and port.


There iswidespread participation in sport among people in Britain. An estimated 29million people over the age of 16 regularly take part in sports or exercise.The most popular are walking (including rambling and hiking), swimming, snooker/pool, keep fit / yoga and cycling. Women's participation has grownsignificantly over the last few us, even into traditionally male-dominatedactivities like football and rugby. Many sports, such as athletics, boxing andfootball, have also been successful in attracting considerable numbers ofparticipants from the ethnic minorities.

Theintegration in sport of people with disabilities is increasingly encouraged andorganisations throughout Britain promote and develop such opportunities.

All schools(except those solely for infants) are expected to have a playing field or theuse of one, and most secondary schools have a gymnasium. Some have otheramenities such as swimming pools and sports halls.


English is themain language spoken in Britain, although with many regional variations interms of accent and phraseology. It is also one of the most widely used in theworld; recent estimates suggest that over 310 million people speak it as theirfirst language, with a similar number speaking it as a second language. ModernEnglish derives primarily from one of the dialects of Anglo-Saxon, but has beenvery greatly influenced by other languages over time.

About 19 percent of the population of Wales speak the Welsh language, which is of Celticorigin. They are concentrated in the rural north and west, where Welsh remainsthe first language of most of the population. Both the Government and voluntarygroups have taken steps to revive the use of Welsh. Bilingual education inschools is encouraged and there has been an extended use of Welsh for official purposesand in broadcasting. In the context of dealing with public authorities and theadministration of justice in Wales, Welsh and English are treated on an equalbasis.

Gaelic, also alanguage of Celtic origin, is still spoken by some 70,000 people in Scotland;the greatest concentration of Gaelic speakers is in the islands of theHebrides. People in the central lowlands of Scotland have for centuries spokenScots, a dialect derived from the Northumbrian branch of Old English. This hasits own recognised literary tradition and has seen a revival in poetry in the20th century. Many words and phrases from the Scots tongue areretained in the everyday English which is spoken throughout Scotland.

Many otherlanguages are spoken by the ethnic minority communities living in Britain.

All childrenin Britain up to the age of 16 must by law receive full-time education. Around94 per cent of pupils get free education from public funds. The rest attendfee-paying independent schools. Boys and girls are taught together in mostschools.

In England andWales non-selective comprehensive education caters for children of allabilities. Nearly all pupils in Scotland attend non-selective schools.Secondary schools are largely selective in Northern Ireland, where a small numberof integrated schools have been established at primary and secondary levelswith the aim of providing education for Roman Catholic and Protestant childrenstudying together.

Broadly basednational curricula ensure that pupils study a balanced range of subjects. InWales the Welsh language forms part of the national curriculum. Schools inEngland and Wales may also teach the main ethnic minority community languagesat secondary level. Religious education is available in all schools, althoughparents have the right to withdraw their children from such classes.

Pupils aged 16are normally assessed by the General Certificate of Secondary Educationexamination (or the Scottish Certificate of Education). Students who choose tocontinue their studies after 16 — about two-thirds — work for academic orvocational qualifications which are the main standard for entry to highereducation or professional training.

Highereducation is study above Advanced level or equivalent. The proportion of youngpeople entering higher education in universities and colleges has risen fromone in eight in 1979 to almost one in three today.

1999-95 therewere over 1.5 million students in higher education courses, of whom 49 per centwere women. Overseas students at publicly funded higher education institutionsnumbered 158,000.

In 1994-95more than 3.5 million people were enrolled on further and adult educationcourses, which are largely work-related and vocational. Many attend on apart-time basis or during the evenings.


Everyone inBritain has the right to religious freedom without interference from thecommunity or the State. Religious organisations and groups can own property,run schools and actively promote their beliefs. There is no religious bar tothe holding of public office.

There are twoestablished churches in Britain, that is, churches legally recognised asofficial churches of the State: in England the (Anglican) Church of

England, andin Scotland the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland. Other Anglican churches arethe Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church of Ireland.

Attendances atChurch of England services on a normal Sunday are around 1.1 million. Manypeople in Britain who rarely, if ever, attend services still regard themselvesas belonging to the Church of England. The majority of the Church's clergy — men and women — are involved in parish ministry. The adult communicantmembership of the Church of Scotland is about 715,600.

Free churches- a term used to describe some of the Protestant churches which are notestablished churches — include the Methodists, Baptists, and United ReformedChurch. Of these, the Methodists have the largest following. Other Protestantchurches in Britain include the Unitarians and Free Christians, as well as thePentecostalists. About one British citizen in 10 claims to be a member of theRoman Catholic Church. Many Christian communities of foreign origin — forexample, the Lutheran, Orthodox and Reformed Churches of various Europeancountries -have also established their own centres of worship.

AlthoughBritain is predominantly Christian, most of the world's religionsan-represented, including Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Sikh communities. TheMuslim population is the largest non-Christian grouping in the country.

A number oforganisations, such as the Inter-Faith Network for the United Kingdom and theCouncil of Christians and Jews, exist to develop relations between differentreligions in Britain.


People inBritain have widespread access to the arts, which cover drama, music, opera,dance, cinema and visual arts. Nearly 17 million people attended events in oneor more of the major art forms in 1994.

About 650professional arts festivals take place in towns and cities across Britain eachyear. The better known arts festivals, some of which are celebrations ofnational cultures, include the Edinburgh International Festival, which is thelargest of its kind in the world; the Mayfest in Glasgow; the Royal NationalEisteddfod of Wales; the National Gaelic Mod in Scotland; and the BelfastFestival based at Queen's University in Northern Ireland. London is recognisedas one of the world's leading cultural centres, and Britain has an impressivelist of renowned professional performers.

Pop and rockmusic is by far the most popular form of musical expression in Britain. Britishgroups continue to achieve international success and are often at the forefrontof new developments in music.

As well asbeing spectators of the arts, many people are also keen participants. There arethousands of amateur dramatic societies, and performances by amateur musicianslake place in all kinds of venues throughout Britain. An estimated 6 millionpeople take part in dance, making it one of Britain's leading participatoryactivities. Educational and recreational classes for interests such as drawing,painting and crafts are heavily subscribed.

There areabout 1,800 cinema screens in Britain and attendances are currently running at1.9 million a week. Cinema admissions in 1994 were estimated at 124 million — twice as many as in 1984.

About 80million people a year attend more than 2,000 museums and galleries open to thepublic, which include the major national collections, and around 1,100independent museums.


Britain has along tradition of conservation, and for many years has had policies and laws toprotect both the natural environment and among people in Britain is reflectedin the growing membership of these voluntary bodies. 101 example, the NationalTrust — a charity which owns and protects 230 historic houses open to thepublic, in addition to over 235,000 hectares of land in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland has its own National Trust) — now has over 2 millionmembers. Another organisation, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds,is the largest voluntary wildlife conservation body in Europe.

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