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100 Questions Answered: Facts and Figures (Q1-Q8)

Q1. What is the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain?

The United Kingdom is made up of the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain, on the other hand, comprises only England, Scotland and Wales. It is the largest island of the British Isles. Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic form the second largest island.

The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom. They are largely self-governing with their own legislative assemblies and systems of law. The British Government is, however, responsible for their defence and international relations.

In this site the term "Britain" is used informally to mean the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Q2. What is the population of Britain and its major cities?

Britain ranks 18th in the world in terms of population size. In mid-1996, the population of Britain was 58.8 million, an increase of just over half since the beginning of the century.

The total population of England is estimated at 49.1 million, Wales is estimated at 2.9 million, Scotland at 5.1 million and Northern Ireland at 1.7 million people. England has the highest population density and Scotland has the lowest.

The population of Britains major cities in mid-1996 was as follows: London 7,740,300; Birmingham 1,020,600; Manchester 430,800; Glasgow 616,430; Edinburgh 448,850; Belfast 297,300; Cardiff 315,000.

Q3. What are National Parks and where are they?

UK map National Parks aim both to protect the outstanding countryside within their boundaries and to provide opportunities for outside recreation for their many thousands of visitors each year.

There are seven National Parks in England - Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, North York Moors, Northumberland, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales.

There are three National Parks in Wales - Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and the Pembrokeshire Coast that together account for about 20 per cent of the total land area.

In Scotland there are four Regional Parks - Loch Lomond, Fife, Clyde Muirshiel, Pentland Hills - and 40 National Scenic Areas plus 77 national nature reserves.

Q4. Which are Britains largest ethnic minorities groups?

The largest ethnic minorities in Britain are those of Caribbean or African descent (875,000 people). The next largest ethnic groups are Indians (840,255 people), and Pakistani and Bangladeshis (639,390 people). Overall, ethnic minority groups represent just under six per cent of the population of Great Britain. The ethnic population has evolved from the substantial immigration of people from former British colonies in the Caribbean and South Asian subcontinent during the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, in the 1970s Britain admitted some 28,000 Asians expelled from Uganda and some 22,000 refugees from South East Asia. Considerable numbers of Chinese, Italians, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Poles, Australians, New Zealanders and people from the United States and Canada are also resident in Britain.

Q5. Which religions are represented in Britain?


Everyone in Britain has the right to religious freedom. Britain is predominantly Christian - one British citizen in 10 is a member of the Roman Catholic Church and there are 1.7 million members of the Anglican church - the "established church", that is the church legally recognised as the official church of the State.

In Scotland, there are 1.1 million members of the Presbyterian Church - the established church in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, about half the people regard themselves as Protestants and nearly 40 per cent as Roman Catholics.

In Wales, the Anglican church was disestablished in 1920. This means that there is no one officially established church, but Methodism and Baptism are the two most widespread religions.

Muslim Mosque

Britain has one of the largest Muslim communities in Western Europe, estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 million people, with over 600 mosques and prayer centres. One of the most important Muslim institutions in the Western world is the Central mosque in London and its associated Islamic Cultural Centre.

The Sikh community in Britain comprises between 400,000 and 500,000 people, with the largest groups of Sikhs concentrated in Greater London, Manchester and Birmingham. The oldest Sikh temple was established in London in 1908.

The Hindu community in Britain accounts for a further 320,000 people. The first Hindu temple was opened in London in 1962, and there are now over 150 throughout Britain. Other religious groups include about 285,000 members of the Jewish faith.

Q6. What are Britains main imports and exports?

Despite having only one per cent of the worlds population, Britain is the fifth largest trading nation in the world. The chemical industry is Britains largest export earner, and the third largest in Western Europe. Since the 1970s, oil has contributed significantly to Britains overseas trade, both in exports and a reduced need to import oil. British Petroleum (BP) is Britains biggest and Europes second biggest industrial company.

UK pharmaceutical companies make three of the worlds best selling medicines: "Zantac" (made by Glaxo Wellcome) for ulcer treatment; "Tenormin" (ICI), a beta-blocker for high blood pressure; and "AZT" (Glaxo Wellcome), a drug used in the treatment of AIDs.

Britain is also a major supplier of machinery, vehicles, aerospace products, electrical and electronic equipment. Britain is responsible for 10 per cent of the worlds export of services, including banking, insurance, stockbroking, consultancy and computer programming.

Britain imports six times as many manufactures as basic materials. EU countries account for seven of the 10 leading suppliers of goods to Britain and Germany is Britains biggest supplier of imports. Food, beverages and tobacco account for half of non-manufactured imports, whilst machinery and road vehicles account for two-thirds of finished imported manufactures. Other major imports include chemicals, fuels, clothing and footwear.

Q7. What does the Union Flag stand for and how should it be flown?

The flag of Britain, commonly known as the Union Jack (which derives from the use of the Union Flag on the jack-staff of naval vessels), embodies the emblems of three countries under one Sovereign. The emblems that appear on the Union Flag are the crosses of three patron saints:

Englands's St.George flag
the red cross of St.George, for England, on a white ground; Scotland's St.Andrew flag
the white diagonal cross, or saltire, of St. Andrew, for Scotland, on a blue ground; Ireland's St.Patrick flag
the red diagonal cross of St.Patrick, for Ireland, on a white ground.

The current version of the Union Flag appeared in 1801, following the union of Great Britain with Ireland, with the inclusion of the cross of St.Patrick. The cross remains in the flag although now only Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.

National flag of Wales

Wales is not represented in the Union Flag because, when the first version of the flag appeared, Wales was already united with England. The national flag of Wales, a red dragon on a field of white and green, dates from the 15th century and is widely used throughout the Principality.

The Union Flag should be flown with the broader diagonal band of white uppermost in the hoist (near the pole) and the narrower diagonal band of white uppermost in the fly (furthest from the pole).

Q8. What are "GMT" and "British Summertime"?

GMT or "Greenwich Mean Time" is the local time of the 0 degree meridian that passes through Greenwich in London, from which the standard times of different areas of the globe are calculated. Thus it is the standard time for Britain, and a basis for other time zones in the world.

Summer time or BST (British Summer Time) runs from the end of March to the end of October (the last Sunday in each month), when clocks are advanced one hour ahead of GMT to gain maximum use of daylight hours.

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