The British Isles are situated on the continental shelf off the north-west coast of Europe and comprise a group of over 5,000 islands.
Politically the British Isles are divided into two countries the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or just the U. K., and the southern part of Ireland, or the Irish Republic, or Eire. The total area of the British Isles is 322,246 sq. km, whereas that of the U.K. is 244,100 sq. km, which is half the size of France. The warm waters of the North Atlantic Drift (Gulf Stream) move from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea across the Atlantic, and so reach the shores of Northwest Europe. That is why in winter the coasts are ice free and the warm air passes over the British Isles throughout the year.
From the European continent the British Isles are separated by the English Channel and the North Sea. For centuries the British felt safe and secure protected by the Channel, and no foreign army has ever invaded the country since the Norman conquest in the 11th century.
The advantageous geographical position of Great Britain created favourable conditions for the development of shipping, trade and economy as a whole. The British Isles in general, but especially England as part of the U.K., form one of the most densely peopled areas in the world. With the present population of the U.K. of some 60 million, many problems emerge with land use, road construction and city sprawl. No wander British pay much attention to the preservation of the environment.
The British Isles, apart from the two largest islands of Great Britain and Ireland, include several other important islands and groups of islands. Off the north-western coast of Great Britain there is a group of islands known as the Hebrides,
which are divided into the Inner and Outer Hebrides. They are separated from each other by the sea of Hebrides and the Little Minch. The main occupation of the people there is farming and fishing.
1. The Physical Face of Great Britain
1.3 Climate and Weather
1.4 Mineral Wealth
2. The Present Population of the United Kingdom
2.3 Family and Marriage
2.5 Health and Welfare
2.7 Transport and Transportation
3. English Customs and Traditions
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