Great Britain and USA



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The British isles are situated in the Northern temperate zone, so the climate is temperate; it’s never very hot, nor very cold. But the British isles have a current of warm water from the Gulf of Mexico, called Gulf Stream; and this makes winters not very cold. The influence of the sea makes summers cool and winds from the west often bring rain. The moisture bring the fog in autumn and winter; but every year there are weeks of beautiful sunny weather.
Great Britain has no very high mountains; Scotland and Wales, instead, are mountainous. In Britain there are four major groups of mountains: the Scottish Highlands, the Pennines, the Cumbrians and the Cambrians.
The Scottish highlands are the highest mountains in Britain, and they include Ben nevis, the highest mountain in the country. The southern Uplands form the boundary (confine) between Scotland and England.
In the lake District there are the Cumbrians; while in Wales there are the Cambrians.
Rivers in Britain aren’t very long but most of them are navigable and are an efficient system of transport. The best known is the Thames on which London is located. The longest is the Severn. Then there are the HUMBER, the TYNE, the MERSEY, the SHANNON, which is the most important river of Ireland. The most picturesque lakes in Britain are in the Lake District, in the northwest of England. There are 12 lakes. The lake District is famous also because of the English Romantic poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge lived there.
England is the largest country in the UK. The most important cities are: London, the capital, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Bristol. The economy is based on industry, agriculture and tourism. England is also a country with a living past which we can see in its Roman ruins, medieval castles and gothic cathedrals. You can also visit places like Canterbury and Stratford-on-Avon, where Shakespeare was born.
Tourists can visit also Windsor Castle, Oxford, Cambridge, Stonehenge and Brighton, a seaside resort.
London is the capital of the UK and the largest city in Europe. London was founded by Romans in the first century A.D. It’s the principal residence of the British monarchs, the centre of business and governments.
The metropolitan area, Greater London, contains many districts called boroughs (comuni). London stand on both sides of the river Thames. 7 million inhabitants live there. The City is the oldest part of the capital; it’s the financial heart of London and there are many banks. But few inhabitants really live in the City; most of them live in suburbs outside the City.
London is also a cosmopolitan city which offers everything. There are museums, galleries, theatres and shopping centres.
London has different centres.
The West End is the cultural centre and the Royal Family’s home. Piccadilly Circus is in the West End, with restaurants, stores, theatres. The East end is the original workers’ district. In the last years many places of London has been rebuilt as resident areas. During the celebration of the New century it has built the Millennium Village, a modern urban village with shops, pubs and schools. But London also has problems: poverty, unemployment, crime and so on.
London’s attractions are:
- Buckingham Palace: the London home of the Royal family
- Westminster Abbey: is the church where British royalty has been crowned since William the conqueror (1066); many queens and kings are buried there.
- Trafalgar Square: a large square. It commemorates Horatio Nelson, the hero of the battle of Trafalgar.
- The British Museum: it’s a very important museum which represents many civilizations.
- The Palace of Westminster: is the HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT, the seat of British government, and where laws are approved.
Scotland is part of the UK but not part of England. Its inhabitants, the Scots, are British but not English. Until the 18th century Scotland was an independent country, but in 1707 the Parliaments of the two countries were united. Since then, Scotland has been governed from London, but it has its system of laws, its church, its educational system and its traditional way of life. Scotland’s importance cities are Edinburgh, the capital and Glasgow, the country’s industrial centre.
Wales is on the western side of Britain. In 1535 it became part of Britain and today it’s governed from London. People of Wales have always kept their separated identity; their culture, customs and language. In fact, bilingual education in schools has been extended for official purpose. Roads signs are in Welsh and in English. In a recent referendum Wales has obtained its own Parliament. The Welsh people have a strong musical tradition. The main urban centres are Cardiff, Swansea and Newport.
Ireland is a small island. Dublin and Belfast are its biggest cities. English is the main language but Irish Gaelic is also spoken, especially in the west. Once Ireland belonged to Great Britain, but poverty led the Irish to rise up against the British in 1916. In 1922 Ireland was divided into the catholic Irish free State, (EIRE or Irish Republic), and the protestant Northern Ireland, part of the UK. But because of the catholic minority didn’t have the same rights as the protestants, they protested until violent confrontations in Londonderry and Belfast in the late 1960s, when British troops were set in, but the situation worsened. Now the IRA (Irish Republican Army), has met with the British governments by peaceful means.

The United States of America is part of the American continent. Its territory, except of Alaska and Hawaii, extends from Canada in the North, to Mexico in the South, and from the Atlantic ocean in the east, to the pacific ocean in the West. The USA have a great variety of climate and physical features.
Alaska and Hawaii are geographically separated from the body of the US; Alaska by Canada, while Hawaii are in the Pacific Ocean, and they were incorporated in US in 1959. When US were founded, in 1780s, there were 13 states along the East coast; then they became 48 (13+35). Now there are 50 states.
The climate of the US is varied; in fact it is said there are 12 types of climate in the USA. Most of the US has a continental climate; many places have very cold winters or very hot summers. In the late summer and early autumn hurricanes and tornadoes often occur along the East coast. Earthquakes also occur, especially in California. These natural disasters cause many damages to people. Precipitation is generally well distributed in US except in the Southwest. Another problem in the Us is floods caused by violent winds and rain falls.
The Republic of the United States of America is a federal union of 50 States including the District of Columbia, seat of the government.
The USA are geographically simple. In the main part of the country there are two chains of highlands: Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. The Appalachians are situated in East, from Canada to Alabama. The Rocky Mountains extend from Alaska to Central America. Hawaii, instead, are small tropical island created by volcanic eruptions.
The USA have a large system of rivers which crosses the whole country.
The Mississippi River is the largest river and covers two-fifths (2/5) of the country. The Mississippi’s major tributaries are the MISSOURI, ARKANSAS, OHIO rivers. Along its banks there are cities like St. Louis, New Orleans and Memphis.
Other important rivers are: Colorado, which flows to the pacific ocean, through the Grand Canyon; the Columbia; the Sacramento which enters the pacific ocean; the Rio Grande, the most important river in the South west, which forms a natural border with Mexico. On the East side we find: the Hudson, the Potomac.
As for the lakes we find the Great Lakes, in the north along the Canadian border, and the Great Salt Lake.
There are four time zones in the USA. From east to west there are the Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific zones. If you travel from east to west you have to set your watch back one hour, but if you travel from west to east you must set your watch ahead, because each zone is one hour apart.
The USA is a country with one government, one language and one monetary system, even if there are regional differences based on culture. For this reason, the USA is divided into six regions.
New England in the north East, comprising six states.
The Mid Atlantic States with six regions.
The South, the largest, with his eleven states from Virginia to Florida.
The Midwest made up of eight states.
The Great Plains from north to south including six states.
The West, with eleven states.
There are over eighty (80) major cities in the USA, all different and with characteristics of their own.
Washington is the national capital of the US. It lies in the District of Columbia, a section separate from the other states. It is an independent area because of many discussions about where the capital had to be located. The name is due to George Washington.
Washington is situated on the Potomac river; it’s a beautiful, elegant American city. It’s full of green parks, white marble buildings, very large streets and many historical places to see.
The best known building is the White House, home of the American Presidents since 1800.
Other centres of interest in Washington are: the Pentagon, Arlington cemetery, where many American men are buried, and so on.
New York is situated on the Atlantic coast, on the Hudson river. The Big Apple is the financial and cultural capital of the USA with banks, museums, a great seaport and the seat of ONU.
New York was founded as a Dutch colony and it was called New Amsterdam in 1620. It grew during the 19th century thanks to immigrants. In New York there are 5 boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Richmond, joined by bridges.
Manhattan is the heart of the city and it is famous for Wall Street, Fifth Avenue, Broadway, Empire State Building.
Chicago is the second city of the USA in population and industry. It’s located on the shores f one of the Great Lakes and for this reason it is important as a transportation centre.
Chicago is the number 1 in steel production, radio, musical instruments and for scientists and artists. Chicago is the most typically American city despite of New York, which is more European than American. Chicago’s population represent the real American character. There are many ethnic groups which have maintained their customs and their lifestyles.
Los Angeles is in California and it is a prototype of the modern American metropolis. Hollywood, Disneyland and Beverly Hills, are located here. It has a population of ten million people and it’s a very important industrial and cultural centre.
San Francisco is the most important city in California; it’s situated on hills. It’s a multicultural metropolis. The city is subject to earthquakes, in fact it was damaged in 1989 but it has been rebuilt preserving its traditional architecture and character.
New Orleans is located on the East bank of Mississippi River and it is one of the largest cities in the South. It is famous or its French Quarter because it was first established by the French. In fact the city is called the Paris of America.
It’s the capital of Massachusetts, and it is full of its historic past, because we have to remember the American Revolution. Here there is a famous university, Harvard University, known in all the world.