National Emblems of the United Kingdom
The Geographical Position of Great Britain
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland covers an area of some 244 thousand square miles. It is situated on the British Isles. The British Isles are separated from Europe by the Strait of Dover and the English Channel. The British Isles are washed by the North Sea in the east and the Atlantic Ocean in the west.
The population of Great Britain is about 60 million. The largest cities of the country are London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
England is in the southern and central part of Great Britain. Scotland is in the north of the island. Wales is in the west. Northern Ireland is situated in the north-eastern part of Ireland.
England is the richest, the most fertile and most populated part in the country. There are mountains in the north and in the west of England, but all the rest of the territory is a vast plain. In the northwestern part of England there are many beautiful lakes. This part of the country is called Lake District.
Scotland is a land of mountains. The Highlands of Scotland are among the oldest mountains in the world. The highest mountain of Great Britain is in Scotland too. The chain of mountains in Scotland is called the Grampians. Its highest peak is Ben Nevis. It is the highest peak not only in Scotland but in the whole Great Britain as well. In England there is the Pennine Chain. In Wales there are the Cumbrian Mountains.
There are no great forests on the British Isles today. Historically, the most famous forest is Sherwood Forest in the east of England, to the north of London. It was the home of Robin Hood, the famous hero of a number of legends.
The British Isles have many rivers but they are not very long. The longest of the English rivers is the Severn. It flows into the Irish Sea. The most important river of Scotland is the Clyde. Glasgow stands on it. Many of the English and Scottish rivers are joined by canals, so that it is possible to travel by water from one end of Great Britain to the other.
The Thames is over 200 miles long. It flows through the rich agricultural and industrial districts of the country. London, the capital of Great Britain, stands on it. The Thames has a wide mouth, that's why the big ocean liners can go up to the London port.
Geographical position of Great Britain is rather good as the country lies on the crossways of the see routes from Europe to other parts of the world. The sea connects Britain with most European countries such as Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway and some other countries. The main sea route from Europe to America also passes through the English Channel.
National Emblems of the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom (abbreviated from "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland") is the political name of the country which consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (sometimes known as Ulster).
Great Britain is the name of the island which is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, whereas the British Isles is the geographical name of all the islands off the north-west coast of the European continent. In everyday speech "Britain" is used to mean the United Kingdom.
The flag of the United Kingdom, known as the Union Jack, is made up of three crosses. The upright red cross on a white background is the cross of the 1st George, the patron saint of England. The white diagonal cross on a blue background is the cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, The red diagonal cross on a white background is the cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
The Welsh flag, called the Welsh dragon, represents a red dragon on a white and green background.
St. George's Day falls on 23 April and is regarded as England's national day. On this day some patriotic Englishmen wear a rose pinned to their jackets'. A red rose is the national emblem of England from the time of the Wars of the Roses (15th century).
St. Andrew's Day (the 30th of November) is regarded as Scotland's national day. On this day some Scotsmen wear a thistle in their buttonhole. As a national emblem of Scotland, thistle apparently first used in the 15th century as a symbol of defence. The Order of the Thistle is one of the highest orders of knighthood. It was founded in 1687, and is mainly given to Scottish noblemen (limited to 16 in number).
St. Patrick's Day (the 17th of March) is considered as a national day in Northern Ireland and an official bank holiday there. The national emblem of Ireland is shamrock. According to legend, it was the plant chosen by St. Patrick to illustrate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish.
St. David's Day (the 1st of March) is the church festival of St. David, a 6th-century monk and bishop, the patron saint of Wales. The day is regarded as the national holiday of Wales, although it is not an official bank holiday.
On this day, however, many Welshmen wear either a yellow daffodil or a leek pinned to their jackets, as both plants are traditionally regarded as national emblems of Wales.
In the Royal Arms three lions symbolize England, a lion rampant — Scotland, and a harp — Ireland. The whole is encircled and is supported by a lion and a unicorn. The lion has been used as a symbol of national strength and of the British monarchy for many centuries. The unicorn, a mythical animal that looks like a horse with a long straight horn, has appeared on the Scottish and British royal coats of arms for many centuries, and is a symbol of purity.