The United Kingdom is made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The official name is actually the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is the name given to England, Scotland, and Wales. The United Kingdom, which has a population of 61m (UN, 2008) and an area of 242,000 square kilometres, is sometimes colloquially referred to as 'Britain'.
If asked, many people will say that the image they have of the UK is the Big Ben, the red telephone booths, the double-decker buses, The Beatles, the Queen and other sterotypical features. But the UK is much more than that.
Britain has a long history of immigration, with Liverpool having the oldest black population in the country, dating back to at least the 1730s, and the oldest Chinese community in Europe, dating to the arrival of Chinese seamen in the 19th century.
Since 1945, substantial immigration from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia has been a legacy of ties forged by the British Empire. Migration from new EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe since 2004 has resulted in growth in these population groups, but, as of 2008, the trend is reversing and many of these migrants are returning home, leaving the size of these groups unknown. As of 2001, 92.1% of the population identified themselves as white, leaving 7.9% of the UK population identifying themselves as mixed race or ethnic minority.
Over 10% of the British population uses a language other than English at home. In addition to the use of traditional languages such as Welsh and Gaelic, this phenomenon is also due to a combination of second generation immigrants from around the world, especially South Asia, interacting with relatives who still feel more comfortable speaking their native languages, as well as more recent immigrants from the EU and elsewhere, who may not have mastered English since arriving in the UK.
Come with us and see the diversity of the UK, in terms of the countries that make up the UK and in terms of its ethnic and religious diversity, and the different profile and customs of its population.
SCOTLANDFlag of Scotland/Bandera de Escocia
With a population of just over 5 million, Scotland has partial self-government within the United Kingdom as well as representation in the UK Parliament.
Scottish music is a significant aspect of the nation's culture, with both traditional and modern influences. A famous traditional Scottish instrument is the Great Highland Bagpipe, a wind instrument consisting of three drones and a melody pipe (called the chanter), which are fed continuously by a reservoir of air in a bag. Bagpipe bands, featuring bagpipes and various types of drums, and showcasing Scottish music styles while creating new ones, have spread throughout the world.
Sport is also an important element in Scottish culture, with the country hosting many of its own national sporting competitions. It enjoys independent representation at many international sporting events including the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby Union World Cup, the Rugby League World Cup, the Cricket World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, but not at the Olympic Games where Scottish athletes are part of the Great Britain team.
Famous Scots include:
ENGLANDThe Flag of England is the St George's Cross. The red cross appeared as an emblem of England during the Middle Ages and the Crusades and is one of the earliest known emblems representing England. It achieved status as the national flag of England during the 16th century. Saint George became the patron saint of England in the 13th century, and the legend of Saint George slaying a dragon dates from the 12th century. Flag of England/Bandera de Inglaterra
England accounts for just over half of the total area of the UK and over 80% of its population (51m). Eight of the 10 most populous cities in the UK are in England – Glasgow at number three and Edinburgh at number seven are the exceptions. London is the largest city, with a population of over seven million, followed by Birmingham with a population of nearly one million.
The mainland of England consists of the central and southern part of the island of Great Britain in the North Atlantic, but England also includes over 100 smaller islands such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
Immigration has changed the English population, making it now one of the most diverse in the world. People from former British colonies have arrived since the 1950s—5.30% of people living in England have migrated from the Indian subcontinent, mostly India and Pakistan. 2.30% of the population are black, mostly from the Caribbean. There is a significant number of Chinese and British Chinese. As of 2007, 22% of primary school children in England were from ethnic minority families. About half of the population increase from 1991 to 2001 was due to foreign-born immigration.
The food of England has historically been characterised by its simplicity of approach, honesty of flavour, and a reliance on the high quality of natural produce, though a decline began during the Industrial Revolution with the move away from the land and increasing urbanisation of the populace. But the cuisine of England has recently undergone a revival, which has been recognised by the food critics with some good ratings in Restaurant's best restaurant in the world charts. But today, especially in the streets of London, due to intense immigration and growing tourism, one can find food from every corner of the world.
Some famous English men and women:
NORTHERN IRELANDUlster Banner/Estandarte de Ulster
The ‘Ulster Banner’ was the official flag that was used to represent the Government of Northern Ireland from 1953 to 1973. In 1924, the Government of Northern Ireland was granted arms by Royal Warrant and had the right to display these arms on a flag or banner. This right was exercised for the Coronation in 1953. Between 1953 and 1972, this flag was the arms of the Government of Northern Ireland. It ceased to have official government sanction when the Parliament of Northern Ireland was dissolved by the British government under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, but remains the only flag to date which represents Northern Ireland at international level in sport.
Saint Patrick’s Cross was used in the regalia of the Order of Saint Patrick, established in 1783 as the premier chivalric order of the Kingdom of Ireland, and later in the arms and flags of a number of institutions. The Order of Saint Patrick was created in 1783 to mark the Constitution of 1782 which gave substantial autonomy to Ireland. The order was a means of rewarding (or obtaining) political support in the Irish Parliament.Flag of Ireland/Bandera de Irlanda del Norte In Northern Ireland, some members from each 'community' use their own flags to declare their allegiance (to political ideology) and esteem towards the places where they live. Thus it is the "Ulster Banner" and the Union Flag that are flown by unionists, while the Irish tricolour of the Republic of Ireland is often used to represent nationalist allegiance to the Republic of Ireland. They argue that the Irish tricolour is a symbol of peace and unity, not just of Ireland, but of the two distinct peoples within the island, those being the Roman Catholic Irish (Green) and the Protestant Unionist traditions (Orange) being united by peace (White).
Northern Ireland is situated in the north east of the island of Ireland. Its population is just under two million and its capital is Belfast.
For many years it was the site of a bitter ethno-political conflict known as “the Troubles” between those claiming to represent Nationalists, who are predominantly Roman Catholic, and those claiming to represent Unionists, who are predominantly Protestant. Unionists want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, while nationalists wish it to be politically united with the rest of Ireland. In general, Unionists consider themselves British (or "Ulstermen") and Nationalists see themselves as Irish, though these identities are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Since the signing of the "Good Friday Agreement" in 1998, the paramilitary groups involved in "the Troubles" have ceased their armed campaigns.
With its improved international reputation, Northern Ireland has recently witnessed rising numbers of tourists. Attractions include cultural festivals, musical and artistic traditions, countryside and geographical sites of interest, public houses, welcoming hospitality and sports (especially golf and fishing).
Few people know that Belfast is also the home of the "Titanic", for it was there, in the old shipyard, that it was built, before it went on its first and last voyage, departing from Southampton.
Famous Northern Irish men and women include:
The Flag of Wales is Y Ddraig Goch (English: The Red Dragon), consisting of a red dragon passant on a green and white field. As with many heraldic charges, the exact representation of the dragon is not standardised and many renderings exist.
The flag incorporates the red dragon of Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd, along with the Tudor colours of green and white. The flag can be seen flying from the Welsh Assembly building in Cardiff, and from the Wales Office in Whitehall, London each day.Flag of Wales/Bandera de Gales
Technically, Wales is a principality, ruled by a prince. Traditionally the Prince of Wales is the eldest son of the English monarch.
Wales has a population of about 3 million and about 20% of those are Welsh speakers. Since the introduction of the Welsh Language Act 1993, Welsh has equal status with English in the public sector in Wales.
During the 20th century a number of small communities of speakers of languages other than English or Welsh, such as Bengali or Cantonese, have established themselves in Wales as a result of immigration. This phenomenon is almost exclusive to urban Wales. The Italian Government funds the teaching of Italian to Welsh residents of Italian ancestry. These other languages do not have legal equality with English and Welsh, although public services may produce information leaflets in minority ethnic languages where there is a specific need, as happens elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
The principal Welsh festival of music and poetry is the National Eisteddfod. This takes place annually in a different town or city. The Llangollen International Eisteddfodd echoes the National Eisteddfod but provides an opportunity for the singers and musicians of the world to perform.
Famous Welsh men and women include:
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