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Geography of Great Britain                                 

Lecture 1 The Geographical Situation of the United Kingdom

                  of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

1.2. Geographical Position and Territory

The British Isles is an archipelago consisting of the two large islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six-thousand smaller surrounding islands. The British Isles are divided into two countries — the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or 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, while that of the U.K. is 244,820 sq. km.

^ Great Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest Europeanisland. With a population of about 61 million people in mid-2008, it is the third most populated island on Earth after Java and Honshū. Great Britain is surrounded by over 1000 smaller islands and islets lying between latitudes 50° and 61° N and longitudes 2° E and 11° W with the prime meridian of 0° passing through the old observatory of Greenwich (London).

All of the island of Great Britain is territory of the sovereign state theUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and most of the United Kingdom's territory is in Great Britain. The term "Great Britain" (and the abbreviation 'GB') is the traditional 'short form' of the full country title, although usage of 'the UK' has increased more recently. Most of England, Scotland, and Wales are on the island of Great Britain, as are their respective capital cities, London, Edinburgh, and Cardiff. It is separated from the continent by the North Sea and by the English Channel, which narrows to 34 kilometers at the Straits of Dover. It stretches over about ten degrees of latitude on its longer, north-south axis, and occupies an area of 209,331 km². Geographically, the island is marked by low, rolling countryside in the east and south, while hills and mountains predominate in the western and northern regions.

From South to North, from Land's End to John O'Groats, the island of Great Britain stretches for about 900 km, and is just under 500 km across in the widest part and 60 km in the narrowest. Due to the numerous bays and inlets no place in Britain is as much as 120 km from the sea coast.

In autumn 1994 the ^ Channel Tunnel between Folkestone, on the British side, and Calais, on the French side, began to operate with high speed trains (160 km/h) covering the tunnel distance in about 35 minutes.

The island of Ireland lies to the west of Great Britain.

The most important sea routes pass through the English Channel and the North Sea linking Europe with the Americas and other continents. The advantageous geographical position of Great Britain created favourable conditions for the development of shipping, trade and economy as a whole. The present population of the U.K. is about 60 million.

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 northwestern coast of Great Britain, there is a group of islands known as the Hebrides. Off the northern coast of Scotland are the Orkney Islands, which comprise about a hundred islands. The Shetland Islandsare situated about 100 km north of the Orkneys. In the middle of the Irish Sea lies the Isle of Man. Another important island in the Irish Sea isAnglesey situated off the north coast of Wales. Here is a famous village with the 

longest place name of Great Britain (58 letters) situated. Great Britain does not include the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, which are not part of the United Kingdom, and are Crown Dependencies which means they are constitutionally tied to the Monarch (King or Queen) but are not constitutionally part of the UK with their own legislative and taxation systems, though they are treated as part of it for many purposes including nationality. The Channel Islands lie to the south-west on the French side of the English Channel. The Channel Islands form an archipelago separated by shallow waters from northern France. The chief islands of the group are Jersey and Guernsey.

The UK has fourteen overseas territories, all remnants of the British Empire, which at its height in 1922 encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land surface, the largest empire in history. British influence can continue to be observed in the languageculture and legal systems of many of its former colonies.

The Isle of Wight lies in the English Channel. The island forms one of the most important tourist resorts in the country. Also lying in the English Channel off the extreme southwestern coast of Great Britain is a tiny group of the Isles of Scilly, another resort area.

The coastline of the British Isles is greatly indented, therefore there are many bays and harbours, peninsulas and capes on the coast. Due to its extreme indentity the coastline of Great Britain is 8,000 km long. The western coasts of Scotland and Wales are very much indented. The east coast is less lofty and more regular than the west coast.

Steep is the English coast of the Strait of Dover, where the chalk ridge comes right up to the sea. When approaching the British coast by boat on a sunny day, the visitors are impressed by the white cliffs of Dover. No wonder the Greeks called the island 'Albion' in ancient times. The Irish coasts are more like those of England. The west coast is more indented.

England accounts for just over half of the total area of the UK, covering 130,410 square kilometres. Most of the country consists of lowland terrain, with mountainous terrain north-west of the Tees-Exe line including the Cumbrian Mountains of the Lake District, the Pennines andlimestone hills of the Peak DistrictExmoor and Dartmoor. The main rivers and estuaries are the ThamesSevern and the Humber. England's highest mountain is Scafell Pike (978 metres, which is in the Lake District.

Scotland accounts for just under a third of the total area of the UK, covering 78,772 square kilometres, including nearly eight hundred islands, predominantly west and north of the mainland, notably the HebridesOrkney Islands and Shetland Islands. The topography of Scotland is distinguished by the Highland Boundary Fault. The faultline separates two distinctively different regions; namely the Highlands to the north and west and the lowlands to the south and east. The more rugged Highland region contains the majority of Scotland's mountainous land, including Ben Nevis, which at 1,343 metres is the highest point in theBritish Isles. Lowland areas, especially the narrow waist of land between the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth known as the Central Belt, are flatter and home to most of the population including Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, and Edinburgh, the capital and political centre of the country.

Wales accounts for less than a tenth of the total area of the UK, covering 20,758 square kilometres. Wales is mostly mountainous, though south Wales is less mountainous than north and mid Wales. The main population and industrial areas are in south Wales, consisting of the coastal cities of Cardiff (the capital, political and economic centre), Swansea and Newport and the South Wales Valleys to their north. The highest mountains in Wales are in Snowdonia, and include Snowdon, which, at 1,085 m is the highest peak in Wales. The 14 (or possibly 15) Welsh mountains over 3,000 feet (914 m) high are known collectively as the Welsh 3000s. Wales has over 1,200 km of coastline. There are severalislands off the Welsh mainland, the largest of which is Anglesey in the northwest.

Northern Ireland accounts for just 14,160 square kilometres and is mostly hilly. It includes ^ Lough Neagh, at 388 square kilometres, the largest body of water in the UK andIreland. The highest peak in Northern Ireland is Slieve Donard at 849 metres in the Mourne Mountains.

1.2. Physical Structure and Relief



The United Kingdom can be divided into eight main land regions. Seven of these regions occupy the island of Great Britain. They are (l) the Scottish Highlands, (21 the Central Lowlands, (3) the Southern Uplands, (4) the Pennines, (5) Wales, (6) the Southwest Peninsula, and (7) the English Lowlands. Northern Ireland makes up the eighth region.

(1) The Scottish Highlands cover the northern half of Scotland. They are a region of mountain ranges, plateaus, and deep valleys. Many bays cut into the region's Atlantic Ocean and North Sea coasts. Some narrow bays, called sea lochs, are flanked by steep mountain slopes and reach far inland. The soil of this rugged, windswept region is thin and poor. Most of the Highlands is a moor—an area of coarse grasses, a few small trees, and low evergreen shrubs called heather. Few people live in this region. Most of them raise sheep or earn their living from fishing.

The Highlands lie to the west of a line from Aberdeen to the mouth of the river Clyde. The mountains are separated into two parts by the long straight depression known as Glen More. To the north lie the Northern Highlands, to the south are the Grampian mountains, including the loftiest summit on the British Isles Ben Nevis (1,343 m). Glen More contains several lakes, including Loch Ness. In the early 19th century the lochs (lakes) were joined to form the Caledonian Canal which connected two coasts. The Highlands comprise 47 per cent of the land area of Scotland with less than 15 per cent of the Scottish population. The region has the most severe weather experienced in Britain.

(2) The Central Lowlands lie south of the Scottish Highlands, in the valleys of the Clyde, Forth, and Tay rivers. This region is a gently rolling plain. It has Scotland's best farmland and its richest coal deposits.

The Central Lowlands of Scotland, sometimes known as the Midland Valley, lie between the Highlands and the Southern Uplands. Occupying about 15 per cent of Scotland's area, the region contains about 80 per cent of its people. Here stand Scotland's major cities: Edinburgh, the beautiful capital of the country, and the industrial giant, Glasgow, with its major industries of engineering and shipbuilding. The region is also a major farming area of the country.

 (3) The Southern Uplands rise gently south of the Central Lowlands. This is a region of rounded, rolling hills. Sheep graze on the short grass that covers much of the hills. Their fleece goes to Scotland's famous woolen mills in the region's Tweed Valley. In the south, the uplands rise to the Cheviot Hills and the Lake District.

(4) The Pennines are a region of rounded uplands that extend from the Scottish border about halfway down the length of England. They are also known as the Pennine Chain or Pennine Hills, and are often called the backbone of England. They stretch from the Tyne Valley in the north to the Trent valley in the south — a distance of about 250 km. The whole range forms a large table-land, the highest point of which is Cross Fell (893 m).Their flanks are rich in coal.

Across the north end of the Pennines there are the grassy ^ Cheviot Hills. The highest point is the Cheviot (816 m) near the Scottish border. The Cheviot Hills serve as a natural borderland between England and Scotland.

In north-west England, separated from the Pennines by the valley of the river Eden, lie the Cumbrian mountains. The highest peak of the Cumbrians is Scafell (978 m). The valleys, which separate the various mountains from each other, contain some beautiful lakes (Windermere, Grasmere, Ullswater and others). This is the famous Lake District, the favourite place of holiday-makers and tourists. The region is claimed to be the wettest part of the British Isles.



(5) Wales lies southwest of the Pennines and is separated from them by a narrow strip of the English Lowlands.. It is the largest of the peninsulas on the western side of Britain. It is a country of hills and mountains deeply cut by river valleys. The mountains cover practically all the territory of Wales and are called the Cambrian mountains. These mountains are especially rugged and beautiful in the north, and are more rounded in central Wales.  The highest peak, Snowdon (1,085 m) is in the northwest, and the whole surrounding area is a National Park noted for its beauty. In the south the Cambrian mountains include an important coalfield, on which an industrial area has grown. It is the most densely populated part of Wales, with some two-thirds of the total population inhabiting this area. Two relief divisions maybe distinguished in South Wales: a coastal plain, which in the southeastern part around Cardiff, the capital of Wales, becomes up to 16 km wide and the upland areas of the coalfield proper.These are the best areas for crop farming. The rest of the land is too steep for growing crops, and is used mostly for grazing sheep.

(6) The Southwest Peninsula lies south of Wales, across the Bristol Channel. It is a plateau, whose surface is broken by great masses of granite. Near much of the coast, the plateau ends sharply in magnificent cliffs that tower above the sea. Tiny fishing villages lie in sheltered bays along the coast. The region has mild winters and summers that are not too dry. This climate helps make agriculture important in the fertile lowland areas. Farmers grow vegetables and raise dairy cattle.

The peninsula was once famous for its tin and copper mines, but they have been nearly worked out. More important today is the region's fine white china clay, used to make pottery. The Southwest Peninsula's beauty and pleasant climate attract many artists and hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers every year.

South-west England is noted for two interesting things: the westernmost point of the English mainland ^ Land's End and the most southerly point of Great Britain Lizard Point.

(7) The English Lowlands cover all England south of the Pennines and east of Wales and the Southwest Peninsula. This region has most of the United Kingdom's farmable land, industry, and people. The lowlands consist chiefly of broad, gently rolling plains, broken here and there by low hills and ridges. Much of the land is a patchwork of fields and meadows, bordered by tall hedges, stone fences, or rows of trees.

A grassy plain called the Midlands lies in the centre of the English Lowlands, just south of the Pennines. Parts of the Midlands extend along the western and eastern borders of the Pennines. The Midlands are the industrial heart of the United Kingdom. Birmingham, one of the world's greatest manufacturing cities, and Wolverhampton and other factory cities are near the centre of the Midlands in what is called the Black Country.

South of the Midlands, a series of hills and valleys crosses the land to the valley of the River Thames. London, the country's capital and commercial and cultural centre, stands on the River Thames. Most of the land north of the Thames and up to a bay of the North Sea called the Washis low and flat. This area has some of the country's richest farmland. A great plain called the Fens borders the Wash. In the Fens, near Ely, is the lowest point in the country. It ranges from sea level to 4.5 metres below sea level, depending on the tide.

South of the Thames, low chalk hills and valleys cross the land. Where the hills reach the sea, they form great white cliffs. The most famous cliffs are near Dover. On 

clear days, people in Calais, France, can see the white cliffs of Dover gleaming in the sun.

(8) Northern Ireland is a region of low mountains, deep valleys, and fertile lowlands. The land is lowest near the centre, and rises to its greatest heights near the coasts. The chief natural resources are rich fields and pastures, and most of the land is used for crop farming or grazing. About a fifth of the people of Northern Ireland live in Belfast, the capital and main industrial centre.

Geographically Ireland is an island and a single unit, but politically it is divided into Northern Ireland (which with its capital Belfast is part of the U.K.) and the Irish Republic (Eire) with its capital Dublin. The island of Ireland forms a large extensive plain surrounded by a broken belt of mountains, or the uplands.

There are substantial uplands in the ^ Sperrin Mountains and basaltAntrim Plateau, which rise above 400 metres, as well as smaller ranges inSouth Armagh and along the Fermanagh–Tyrone border. Slieve Donard in the Mournes reaching 849 metres is Northern Ireland's highest point. The Antrim Plateau also formed the remarkably hexagonal columns of theGiant's Causeway on the north Antrim coast. It is a major natural spot of beauty, which attracts lots of tourists.

The centrepiece of Northern Ireland's geography is Lough Neagh, (391 km2) the largest freshwater lake both on the island of Ireland and in the British Isles. A second extensive lake system is centred on Lower and Upper Lough Erne in Fermanagh. The largest island of Northern Ireland isRathlin, off the Antrim coast. Strangford Lough is the largest inlet in the British Isles, covering 150 km2.

The Lower and Upper ^ River BannRiver Foyle and River Blackwaterform extensive fertile lowlands, with excellent arable land also found in North and East Down, although much of the hill country is marginal and suitable largely for animal husbandry.

The valley of the ^ River Lagan is dominated by Belfast, whose metropolitan area includes over a third of the population of Northern Ireland, with heavy urbanisation and industrialisation along the Lagan Valley and both shores of Belfast Lough.

1.3. Rivers and. Lakes

There is a fairly wide network of rivers in the British Isles. Though generally short in length, they are navigable but in their lower reaches, especially during high tides. The mild maritime climate keeps them free of ice throughout the year. Their direction and character are determined by the position of the mountains. Most of the rivers flow in the eastward direction since the west coast is mountainous.

 British rivers form deep estuaries, and strong tides penetrate into them, thus preventing the formation of deltas. Many of the rivers are joined together by canals. This system of rivers and canals provides a good means of cheap inland water transport.

The largest river in Great Britain is the Severn (350 km) which follows from central Wales and flows into the Bristol Channel. The Thames(332 km) and the Trent (274 km) flow into the North Sea. Among other important rivers, which flow eastwards to the North Sea are the Tees and Tyne in England, and the rivers Tweed, Forth, Dee and Spey in Scotland. These are the rivers flowing into the Irish Sea: the Mersey and Eden of England, and the Clyde on which Glasgow stands. The longest river in the British Isles is the river Shannon (384 km) flowing from north to south in the Republic of Ireland.



          Owing to the fact that British lakes are rather small and remote, with no outlets, they afford limited economic possibilities. The largest lake in Great Britain and the biggest inland loch in Scotland is Loch Lomond,covering a surface of 70 sq. km, but the largest fresh water lake of the whole British Isles is Lough Neagh (381 sq. km) in Northern Ireland. The sixteen major long and narrow lakes among steep slopes of the mountains in north-west England form the celebrated Lake District which is a tourist attraction. The deepest lake is Wastewater, the largest lake is Windermere.

          1.4. Climate and Weather

Weather is not the same as climate. The weather of the British Isles is greatly variable. No wonder the British never get tired of discussing the weather. The climate of a place or region, on the other hand, represents the average weather conditions over a long period of time.

The geographical position of the British Isles within latitudes 50° to 61° N is a basic factor in determining the main characteristics of the climate. Britain's climate is dominated by the influence of the sea. It is much milder than that in any other country in the same latitudes. The marine influences warm the land in winter and cool it in summer. This moderating effect of the sea is in fact the cause of the relatively small seasonal contrasts experienced in Britain.

The prevailing winds in the British Isles are westerlies. They are extremely moist, as a result of their long passage over the warm waters of the North Atlantic.

North and north-west winds often bring heavy falls of snow to north Britain during late October and November, but they are usually short-lived. Continental winds from the east sometimes reach the British Isles in summer as a warm and dry air stream, but they are more frequently experienced in winter when they cross the North Sea and bring cold, continental-type weather to the eastern and inland districts of Great Britain.

Relief is the most important factor controlling the distribution of temperatures and precipitation in Britain. The actual temperatures experienced in the hilly and mountainous parts are considerably lower than those in the lowlands. The average annual rainfall in Britain is about 1,100 mm. The mountainous areas of the west and north have far more rainfall than the lowlands of the south and east. The western Scottish Highlands, the Lake District, Welsh Uplands and parts of Devon and Cornwall in the south-west receive more than 2,000 mm of rainfall each year.

In contrast, the eastern lowlands are much drier. Much of eastern and south-eastern England (including London) receive less than 700 mm each year, and snow falls on only 15 to 18 days of the year on average.

Rainfall is fairly well distributed throughout the year, although March to June are the driest months and October to January are the wettest.

In Ireland the climate situation is a bit different, for here the rain-bearing winds have not been deprived of their moisture, and much of the Irish plain receives up to 1,200 mm of rainfall per year, usually in the form of steady and prolonged drizzle. Snow, on the other hand, is rare owing to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream.

Because of the Gulf Stream and predominantly maritime air masses that reach the British Isles from the west, the range in temperature throughout the year is never very great. The annual mean temperature in England and Wales is about +10 °C, in Scotland and Northern Ireland about +9 °C. July and August are the warmest months of the year, and January and February the coldest.



The distribution of sunshine shows a general decrease from south to north — the south has much longer periods of sunshine than the north.

1.5. Vegetation and Landscape

The landscape is rich and varied, sometimes showing marked contrasts within short distances, particularly on the coasts. Most of the land is agricultural of which over one third is arable, and the rest being pasture and grazing. Woodlands cover about 8 per cent of the country. Today only a few scattered areas of extensive woodland remain, such as the New Forest in Hampshire and Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.

The present vegetation of Great Britain owes much of its character to the influence of man. Only in the remote parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands remnants of the natural vegetation still exist. The original natural vegetation consists of forest, fen and marsh in the wet lowlands, and shrub, heath and moorland on the uplands.

In the mountainous regions of Great Britain the vegetation is represented by coniferous and mixed forests with the predominance of pine, oak and birch. The greatest density of woodland occurs in the north and east of Scotland, in some parts of southeast England and on the Welsh border. The most common trees are oak, beech, ash and elm.. In the north and on higher ground in the west these are replaced by birch pine, fir and spruce.

Midland Britain appears to be well wooded because of the numerous hedges and isolated trees. Hedges are a typical feature of countryside landscape in England.

Generally, the flora of Great Britain is impoverished compared to that of continental Europe. Great Britain's flora comprises 3354 vascular plantspecies in total, of which 2297 are native and 1057 have been introduced into the island. The island has a wide variety of trees, including native species of birchbeechashhawthornelmoakyewpinecherry andapple. Other trees have been naturalised, introduced especially from other parts of Europe (particularly Norway) and North America. Introduced trees include several varieties of pine, chestnutmaplesprucesycamore andfir, as well as cherry plum and pear trees. The tallest species are theDouglas firs; two specimens have been recorded measuring 65 meters. The Fortingall Yew in Perthshire is the oldest tree in Europe.

There are at least 1500 different species of wildflower in Britain, Some 107 species are particularly rare or vulnerable and are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is illegal to uproot any wildflowers without the landowner's permission. Various wildflowers represent specific counties. These include red poppiesbluebellsdaisiesdaffodils,rosemarygorseirisivymintorchidsbramblesthistlesbuttercups,primrosethymetulipsvioletscowslipheather and many more. There are also many species of algaelichensfungi and mosses across the island.

1.6. Animal Life

Animal diversity is modest, as a result of factors including the island's small land area, the relatively recent age of the habitats developed since the last Ice Age and the island's physical separation from continental Europe, and the effects of seasonal variability. Great Britain has also gone throughindustrialisation and increasing urbanisation, which have contributed towards the overall loss of species. Studies from 2006 suggested that 100 species have become extinct in the UK during the 20th century including the wolf, the bear, the boar, the deer 

and the Irish elk. However, some species, such as the brown ratred fox, and introduced grey squirrel, are well adapted to urban areas.

Rodents make up 40% of the total number of mammal species in Great Britain. These include squirrelsmicevolesrats and the recently reintroduced European beaver. There is also an abundance of rabbits,hareshedgehogsshrewsmoles and several species of bat. Carnivorous mammals include the badgerweaselstoat and elusive wildcat. There are foxes in most rural areas, and otters are found along many rivers and streams.

Various species of sealwhale and dolphin are found on or around British shores and coastlines. The largest land-based wild animals today are deer. The red deer is the largest species, with roe deer and fallow deeralso prominent; the latter was introduced by the Normans. Habitat loss has affected many species. Extinct large mammals include the brown bear,grey wolf and wild boar; the latter has had a limited reintroduction in recent times.

There is a wealth of birdlife in Britain, 583 species in total, of which 258 breed on the island or remain during winter. Because of its mild winters for its latitude, Great Britain hosts important numbers of many wintering species, particularly ducksgeese and swans. Other well known bird species include the golden eaglegrey heronkingfisherpigeonsparrow,pheasantpartridge, and various species of crowfinchgullaukgrouse,owl and falcon.

There are a lot of song-birds. Blackbirds, sparrows and starlings are probably most common. There are mane sea birds, which nest round the coasts and often fly for inland in search of food or shelter in rough weather.

There are six species of reptile on the island; three snakes and threelizards including the legless slow worm. One snake, the adder, is venomous but rarely deadly. Amphibians present are frogstoads and newts.

 

Lecture 2

The Present Population of the United Kingdom

 

2.1. General Characteristics

The people who now inhabit the British Isles are descended mainly from the people who lived here some 9 centuries ago. The English nation was formed as a result of the amalgamation of the native population of the British Isles — the pre-Celts and the Celts with the invaders: the Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons and Jutes), the Danes and the Normans.

In 1086 William the Conqueror ordered the so-called Domesday Book. As it was discovered, in those days the population of the country was approximately 2 million people. But we cannot make any precise estimates about the size of the population until the beginning of the 19th century. Censuses of the people of the United Kingdom have been taken regularly every 10 years since 1801 (except for 1941 because of the Second World War).In the early 18th century, 6.5 million people inhabited Britain. In 1901, the population of the UK was 38.2 million. It increased to 59.8 million in 2000.

For the first time ever, the UK has more people aged over 60 than under 16. The average UK population growth since 1951 has been approximately 17 per cent.



In England and Wales, the fastest-growing region over the past 20 years has been Milton Keynes (+64.4 per cent). Manchester has witnessed the biggest decline (-15.1 per cent).

Traditionally Britain has had an inflow and outflow of people. During the 100 years, from 1836 to 1936, 11 million people left the British Isles. This mass emigration was caused by a movement of bankrupt peasants and unemployed who travelled to North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, some parts of Asia and Africa in search for a better life. Thus, they spread economic, political and cultural (as well as linguistic) influence of Britain. Mass emigration from Britain stopped after World War I when the above-mentioned countries imposed strict immigration laws.

On the other hand, in the 1930s Britain saw a considerable flow of refugees from continental Europe because of fascist persecution, in the 1950s and 1960s — a large influx of people from West Indies and India. After the 1960s, a considerable number of people entered the UK from the Commonwealth countries. The population of Great Britain as estimated in 2009 was 61,113,205 people (according to 2001 census - 58,789,194 people).The average density is 246 people/km2 

In 2008, natural population growth overtook net migration as the main contributor to population growth for the first time since 1998. Between 2001 and 2008, the population increased by an average annual rate of 0.5 per cent. This compares to 0.3 per cent per year in the period 1991 to 2001, and 0.2 per cent in the decade 1981 to 1991.

2.2. Migration

The proportion of foreign-born people in the UK remains slightly below that of some other European countries, although immigration is now contributing to a rising population, accounting for about half of the population increase between 1991 and 2001. Citizens of the European Union have the right to live and work in any member state and one in six immigrants were from Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004, with larger numbers coming from New Commonwealth countries, particularly South Asia. People from South Asia accounted for two-thirds of net immigration in 2005, mainly fueled by family reunion. Transitional arrangements apply to Romanians and Bulgarians whose countries joined the EU in January 2007.

The latest official figures show that in 2008, 590,000 people arrived to live in the UK whilst 427,000 left, meaning that net inward migration was 163,000.

At least 5.5 million British-born people are living abroad, withAustraliaSpain, the United States, and Canada being the top four destinations.

In 2006, there were 149,035 applications for British citizenship, 32% fewer than in 2005. The number of people granted citizenship during 2006 was 154,095, 5% fewer than in 2005. The largest groups of people granted British citizenship were from IndiaPakistanSomalia and the Philippines.

Figures published in August 2007 indicated that 682,940 people applied to the Worker Registration Scheme between 1 May 2004 and 30 June 2007, of whom 656,395 were accepted.

Research suggests that a total of around 1 million people had moved from the new EU member states to the UK by April 2008, but that half this number have since returned home or moved on to a third country.



Historically, British people were thought to be descended from the varied ethnic stocks that settled there before the 11th century. However, recent genetic analysis indicates that "about 75 per cent of the traceable ancestors of the modern British population had arrived in the British isles by about 6,200 years ago, at the start of the British Neolithic or Stone Age", and that the British broadly share a common ancestry with the Basque people.

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 nineteenth century.

Since 1945, substantial immigration from Africa, the Caribbean andSouth 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 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.

Ethnic diversity varies significantly across the UK. 30.4% of London's population and 37.4% of Leicester's was estimated to be non-white as of June 2005, whereas less than 5% of the populations of North East England, Wales and the South West were from ethnic minorities according to the 2001 census.

2.3. The Structure of the Population

Households. The results of the 2001 census also show that household numbers are falling. More than a quarter of homes in the UK are owned by their occupiers, while almost another four in 10 are owned with the help of a mortgage or loan.

Almost a quarter (22.5 per cent) qualifies as social housing, while 8 per cent are privately rented. The highest proportion of social housing exists in Scotland, where more than a quarter of all homes are owned by either a council or housing association.

The most popular type of home in the UK is semi-detached (more than 27 per cent of all homes), closely followed by detached, then terraced. Just over a fifth of all homes are flats or bedsits. Some of the UK's large cities have the highest proportion of flats and bedsits — 70 per cent in Glasgow, 69 per cent in inner London and 60 per cent in Edinburgh.

Family and Marriage. More than 40% of people over the age of 16 in the UK are married, while another 30% describe themselves as single or never married. Another 8 per cent of people are divorced, while just over 8 per cent are widowed and 7 per cent have re-married. 30 per cent of families have children.

About 60 per cent of the population lives as a couple. Cohabiting has doubled since 1991. Of the four countries, England has the highest proportion of non-married cohabitees — 9.9 per cent. Northern Ireland has the smallest number of divorcees — 4.1 per cent (a result of a strong influence of the Catholic Church), while Wales has the highest — 8.7 percent. Almost one in three families have children.

Religion. Every religion in the world is represented in the United Kingdom, from Hindu and Muslim to Buddhist and Zoroastrian. While the UK is basically secular, it is also overwhelmingly Christian. Since St. Augustine brought Christianity to England's shores, it has been the official religion of the land.

In England proper the highest number of Christians is found in north-east England (80.1 per cent). In Scotland the Church of Scotland is still the dominant form of Christianity with 42.4 per cent.



In the past 20 years the number of adults regularly attending church has fallen from 10.9 per cent to 8.2 per cent — nearly a million fewer people. The only exception is Northern Ireland. The religion figures for Ulster revealed a rise in the number of Catholics. In general terms, 60 per cent of the population in Ulster is Protestant and 40 per cent - Catholic.

In the 2001 Census 71.6% of respondents said that Christianity was their religion. The 2007 British Social Attitudes Survey, which covers England, Wales and Scotland, but not Northern Ireland, indicated that 20.87% were part of the Church of England, 10.25% non-denominational Christian, 9.01% Roman Catholic, 2.81% Presbyterian/Church of Scotland, 1.88% Methodist, 0.88% Baptist, other Protestant 1.29, URC/Congregational 0.32%, 0.08% Free Presbyterian, Brethren 0.05% and 0.37% other Christian. Among other religions, 3.30% were Muslim, 1.37% Hindu, 0.43% Jewish, 0.37% Sikh and others 0.35%. A large proportion had no religion at 45.67%. 0.50% did not answer or N/A.

Employment. Four in 10 people aged between 16 and 74 in the UK are in full time employment. Just over another one in 10 work part-time, while 8 per cent are self-employed.

The total number of unemployed people at the time of the 2001 census was 3.43 per cent, while 2.6 per cent were full-time students, and 13.6 per cent were retired. These figures vary from year to year depending on the state of the economy.

Just over 13 per cent of workers are in administrative and secretarial occupations, while a similar number fall into the category, which includes jobs such as engineering technicians, nurses and artists. Skilled tradesmen and women account for almost 12 per cent of workers. People with "elementary occupations", for example mail sorters, hotel porters and traffic wardens, make up almost 12 per cent of the workforce.

Summing up the involvement of the active population of the country, one should note that the service sector is in the lead followed by manufacturing (20.3 per cent), whereas less than 2 per cent is involved in agriculture.

There is no other country in the world, which has such a great percentage of workers and employees as it is in Britain. They comprise 92 percent of the gainfully occupied population. Today the total working population is over 26 million. The most notable trend in the employment pattern during the last years has been the growth of people employed in services. This is a typical feature, which is observed in all developed countries.

Cities in Britain. Britain is one of the most urbanised countries in Europe (and probably in the world with some 90 % of urban population). In Britain there are more than 90 towns with the population of over 100 thousand people. There are now 61 cities in the UK: 49 in England, five in Scotland, four in Wales and three in Northern Ireland. The largest cities in the UK with the population exceeding 1 million people are London (7,074,265). (Alfred the Great who ruled the country in the 9th century made it the capital of England) and Birming


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