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Part 1 English-Speaking Countries

1.1 The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK, for short) is the official name of the country which is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Several islands around the British coast are also part of the United Kingdom.

The UK is a constitutional (or parliamentary) monarchy. The country has a monarch (a King or a Queen) as its head of state. The monarch has very little power and can only reign with the support of parliament. Parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The different parts of Britain have their own emblems. They are all plants. You can see them on pound coins: England has the rose, Scotland has the thistle, Wales has the daffodil and Northern Ireland the shamrock.

Typical popular pastimes in the UK include going to pubs, playing and watching sport, going on holidays, doing outdoor activities, listening to pop music, reading, and watching TV. Pubs are an important part of British social life and many people spend their free time in pubs, speaking, drinking beer, meeting their friends, watching sport events. England is also famous for its gardens, and most people like gardening. This is probably one reason why so many people prefer to live in houses than in flats.

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1.2 The United States of America

The USA is a very powerful and the most advanced country. It leads the world in industrial and agricultural production. The total area of the USA is over 9 mln square kilometers. The population of the country is 300 mln people. In size it ranks 4th among the countries after Russia, Canada and China.

Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States. It has one major business, and that business is government. Many people who live in Washington work for the federal government. The White House is the official residence of the US president. You will see no skyscrapers in Washington,D.C. because they can hide from view the city’s many monuments. In fact, no building may be more than 40 metres tall.

The largest city is New York, which is nicknamed Big Apple. New York is called the city that never sleeps because it is alive at all hours of day and night.

Chicago is called the most typical American city. Chicago is on Lake Michigan, and waterways made the city a natural link between the Midwest and the East of the country. Chicago is the centre for meatpacking, grain storage, and manufacturing of farm equipment.

The Hawaii Islands are volcanic. Hawaii’s first contact with the west was in 1778, when it was discovered by the English explorer James Cook. In 1959 Hawaii was made the USA’s 50th state. Today tourism accounts for 30% of Hawaii’s income. Hawaii’s agricultural products include sugar, pineapple, and nuts.

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1.3 Canada

Canada is the 2nd country in the world by total area nearly as big as all of Europe. Only the Russian Federation is larger. It extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and to the Arctic Ocean in the north. The population is about 32 mln people (as of 2008). The people who inhabit Canada are: English, French, Scottish, Irish, German, Italian, Chinese, Ukranian, First Nations. About three quarters of the population live in urban areas.

The country is made up of 10 provinces and three territories. The southern region is the warmest area of the country and also has the best land and waterways. Canada is governed as a constitutional monarchy with Queen as its head of state. It is a bilingual and multicultural country with English and French as official languages at the federal level. Canada is one of the world’s highly developed countries.

The capital of the country is Ottawa with the population of 1.1 million people (as of 2006). Ottawa is situated on the Ottawa River and is considered the 4th cleanest city in the world by Forbes magazine. The largest cities are Toronto (5 million people), Montreal (3.6) and Vancouver (2.1).

Canada has 7 of the world’s largest and cleanest lakes and also contains 3 of the globe’s longest 20 rivers. About 25% of its territory is covered with forest. The best known geographic features of Canada are the Rocky Mountains and Niagara Falls.

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