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Лингво страноведенье / Q- 18 ethnic origins

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Question 18 The ethnic origins of the multicultural society of modern UK.

The people who now inhabit the United Kingdom are all British by nationality (i.e. citizenship) but, ethnically, are a diverse people having descended from various early people. Peaceful settlements by the Celts in the Iron Age, the Roman occupation of much of Britain for nearly 400 years, the arrival of Germanic Angles and Saxons in the 5th century, the Scandinavian invasion of the 8th - 9th centuries and the last successful military conquest by the French Normans are but the most important events that helped to determine the future British society. First due to the climatic and geographical reasons and later economic and political ones, the patterns of settlement of various people differed. Despite some intermixture, they brought about significant racial and cultural differences between the English and the settlers of Ireland, Scotland and Whales. Today they are divided primarily into the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish.

The English themselves are a relatively mixed people, their customs, accents and behavior vary considerably, and local identities are still maintained, and may be demonstrated in many ways, such as sporting events, competitions, cultural activities and politics. Generally the northern English have often regarded themselves to be superior to the southern English and vice versa. The diversity of the English mixture has also been increased by centuries of overseas immigration and by existence today of relatively large minority communities.

It is consequently difficult to find a typical Englishman, who confirms to all or some of the assumed national stereotypes, as it is to find a typical Briton or a typical member of other nations.

In Whales, for example, there are cultural and linguistic differences between the industrial south and the rest of the mainly rural country.

The Highlands of Scotland consider themselves to be the true original Scots, and therefore superior to Lowlands Scots, who are supposed to be descendants of Danes and Anglo-Saxons.

In Northern Ireland the social, cultural, political and economic differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants have long been evident and today are often reflected in geographical ghettos. According to the 1991 census, 50.6% of the people regards themselves as Protestants and 38.4% as Roman Catholics. Most of the Protestants are descendants of Scots and English settlers who crossed to northeastern Ireland; they are British by culture and have traditionally been committed to the remaining part of the UK. The Roman Catholic population is mainly Irish by culture and history, and many are nationalist in political aspiration, favoring union with the Irish republic.

Some of the many stereotypes are of course debatable, but they do suggest that the contemporary British represent a very diverse people.

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