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Great Britain

Great Britain
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"Great Britain" (informally "Britain") is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the . With a population of about 60.0 million people in mid-2009, it is the third most populated island on Earth. Great Britain is surrounded by over 1,000 smaller islands and islets. The island of Ireland lies to its west. Politically, Great Britain may also refer to the island itself together with a number of surrounding islands which comprise the territory of England, Scotland and Wales.

All of the island is territory of the sovereign state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and most of the United Kingdom"s territory is in Great Britain. Most of England, Scotland, and Wales are on the island of Great Britain, as are their respective capital cities: London, Edinburgh, and Cardiff.

The Kingdom of Great Britain resulted from the political union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland with the Acts of Union 1707 on 1 May 1707 under Queen Anne. In 1801, under a new Act of Union, this kingdom merged with the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. After the Irish War of Independence most of Ireland seceded from the Union, which then became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The island has a relatively small variety of fauna and flora, due to its size and the fact that wildlife has had little time to develop since the last ice age. The high level of urbanisation on the island has contributed to a species extinction rate that is about 100 times greater than the background species extinction rate.
Political definition
Great Britain is the largest island of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Politically, Great Britain refers to England, Scotland and Wales in combination, and therefore also includes a number of outlying islands such as the Isle of Wight, Anglesey, the Isles of Scilly, the Hebrides, and the island groups of Orkney and Shetland. It does not include the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands which are not part of the United Kingdom, instead being self-governing dependent territories of that state with their own legislative and taxation systems.

The union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland began with the 1603 Union of Crowns, a personal union under James VI of Scotland, I of England. The political union that joined the two countries happened in 1707, with the Acts of Union merging the parliaments of the two nations, and forming the Kingdom of Great Britain, which covered the entire island.
Geographical definition
Great Britain lies to the northwest of Continental Europe and east of Ireland. It is separated from the continent by the North Sea and by the English Channel, which narrows to 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 (80,823 square miles), excluding all the smaller surrounding islands of the archipelago.United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) ISLAND DIRECTORY TABLES "ISLANDS BY LAND AREA". Retrieved from http://islands.unep.ch/Tiarea.htm on 13 August 2009 The North Channel, Irish Sea, St George"s Channel and Celtic Sea separate the island from the island of Ireland to its west. The island is physically connected with continental Europe via the Channel Tunnel, the longest undersea rail tunnel in the world which was completed in 1993. 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. It is surrounded by over 1,000 smaller islands and islets.

The greatest distance between two points is 968 km / 601.5 miles (between Land"s End, Cornwall and John O"Groats, Caithness), or 1,349 km / 838 miles using the national road network.

It is the third most populous island after Java and Honshū.See ; ; . The editors of List of islands by population appear to have used similar data from the relevant statistics bureaux, and totalled up the various administrative districts that comprise each island, and then done the same for less populous islands. An editor of this article has not repeated that work. Therefore this plausible and eminently reasonable ranking is posted as unsourced common knowledge.

The English Channel is thought to have been created between 450,000 and 180,000 years ago by two catastrophic glacial lake outburst floods caused by the breaching of the Weald-Artois Anticline, a ridge which held back a large proglacial lake, now submerged under the North Sea. Around 10,000 years ago, during the Devensian glaciation with its lower sea level, Great Britain was not an island, but an upland region of northwestern Europe, lying partially underneath the Eurasian ice sheet. The sea level was about lower than today, and the bed of the North Sea was dry and acted as a land bridge to Europe, now known as Doggerland. It is generally thought that as sea levels gradually rose after the end of the last glacial period of the current ice age, Doggerland became submerged beneath the North Sea, cutting off what was previously the British peninsula from the European mainland by around 6500 BC.
History


The island was first inhabited by people who crossed over the land bridge from the European mainland. Traces of early humans have been found (at Boxgrove Quarry, Sussex) from some 500,000 years ago and modern humans from about 30,000 years ago. Until about 10,000 years ago, Great Britain was joined to Ireland, and as recently as 8,000 years ago it was joined to the continent by a strip of low marsh to what is now Denmark and the Netherlands. In Cheddar Gorge near Bristol, the remains of animal species native to mainland Europe such as antelopes, brown bears, and wild horses have been found alongside a human skeleton, "Cheddar Man", dated to about 7150 BC. Thus, animals and humans must have moved between mainland Europe and Great Britain via a crossing.Lacey, Robert. "Great Tales from English History". New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004. ISBN 0-316-10910-X. Great Britain became an island at the end of the Pleistocene ice age when sea levels rose due to isostatic depression of the crust and the melting of glaciers.

According to John T. Koch and others, Britain in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-networked culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age that also included Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal where Celtic languages developed.http://www.aber.ac.uk/aberonline/en/archive/2008/05/au7608/

Its Iron Age inhabitants are known as the Britons, a group speaking a Celtic language. The Romans conquered most of the island (up to Hadrian"s Wall, in northern England) and this became the Ancient Roman province of "Britannia". For 500 years after the Roman Empire fell, the Britons of the south and east of the island were assimilated or displaced by invading Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, often referred to collectively as Anglo-Saxons). At about the same time Gaelic tribes from Ireland invaded the north-west, absorbing both the Picts and Britons of northern Britain, eventually forming the Kingdom of Scotland in the 9th century. The south-east of Scotland was colonised by the Angles and formed, until 1018, a part of the Kingdom of Northumbria. Ultimately, the population of south-east Britain came to be referred to, after the Angles, as the English people.

Germanic speakers referred to Britons as "Welsh". This term eventually came to be applied exclusively to the inhabitants of what is now Wales, but it also survives in names such as Wallace, and in the second syllable of Cornwall. "Cymry", a name the Britons used to describe themselves, is similarly restricted in modern Welsh to people from Wales, but also survives in English in the place name of Cumbria. The Britons living in the areas now known as Wales and Cornwall were not assimilated by the Germanic tribes, a fact reflected in the survival of Celtic languages in these areas into modern times. At the time of the Germanic invasion of Southern Britain, many Britons emigrated to the area now known as Brittany, where Breton, a Celtic language closely related to Welsh and Cornish and descended from the language of the emigrants, is still spoken. In the 9th century, a series of Danish assaults on northern English kingdoms led to them coming under Danish control (an area known as the Danelaw). In the 10th century, however, all the English kingdoms were unified under one ruler as the kingdom of England when the last constituent kingdom, Northumbria, submitted to Edgar in 959. In 1066, England was conquered by the Normans, who introduced a French ruling élite that was eventually assimilated. Wales came under Anglo-Norman control in 1282, and was officially annexed to England in the 16th century.

On 20 October 1604 King James (who had succeeded separately to the two thrones of England and Scotland) proclaimed himself as "King of Great Brittaine, France and Ireland", a title that continued to be used by many of his successors. However, England and Scotland each remained legally in existence as separate countries with their own parliaments until 1707, when each parliament passed an Act of Union to ratify the Treaty of Union that had been agreed the previous year. This had the effect of creating a united kingdom, with a single, united parliament, from 1 May 1707. Though the Treaty of Union referred to the new all-island state, as the "United Kingdom of Great Britain", many regard the term "United Kingdom" as being descriptive of the union rather than part of its formal name (which the Treaty stated was to be "Great Britain" without further qualification.) Most reference books, therefore, describe the all-island kingdom that existed between 1707 and 1800 as the "Kingdom of Great Britain".
Terminology ======Toponymy

The oldest mentions of terms related to the formal name of Britain was made by Aristotle (c. 384–322 BC), in his text On the Universe, Vol. III. To quote his works, "... in the ocean however, are two islands, and those very large, called Bretannic, Albion and Ierna".
The archipelago has been referred to by a single name for over 2,000 years: the term derives from terms used by classical geographers to describe this island group. Pliny the Elder (c. 23–79 AD) in his " Natural History" (iv.xvi.102) records of Great Britain: "It was itself named Albion, while all the islands about which we shall soon briefly speak were called the Britanniae."

The earliest known name of Great Britain is "Albion" (Ἀλβίων) or "insula Albionum", from either the Latin "albus" meaning white (referring to the white cliffs of Dover, the first view of Britain from the continent) or the "island of the "Albiones", first mentioned in the "Massaliote Periplus" and by Pytheas.

The name "Britain" descends from the Latin name for Britain, "Brittania" or "Brittānia", the land of the Britons. Old French "Bretaigne" (whence also Modern French "Bretagne") and Middle English "Bretayne, авBreteyne". The French form replaced the Old English "Breoton, Breoten, Bryten, Breten" (also "Breoton-lond, Breten-lond"). Brittania was used by the Romans from the 1st century BC for the taken together. It is derived from the travel writings of the ancient Greek Pytheas around 320 BC, which described various islands in the North Atlantic as far North as Thule (probably Iceland).

The peoples of these islands of "Prettanike" were called the Πρεττανοι, "Priteni" or "Pretani".
"Priteni" is the source of the Welsh language term Prydain, "Britain", which has the same source as the Goidelic term Cruithne used to refer to the early Brythonic speaking inhabitants of Ireland. The latter were later called Picts or Caledonians by the Romans.
Derivation of "Great" ===After the Old English period, "Britain" was used as a historical term o
Geoffrey of Monmouth in his pseudohistorical "Historia Regum Britanniae" ("c." 1136) refers to the island of Great Britain as "Britannia major" ("Greater Britain"), to distinguish it from "Britannia minor" ("Lesser Britain"), the continental region which approximates to modern Brittany. The term "Great Britain" was first used officially in 1474, in the instrument drawing up the proposal for a marriage between Cecily the daughter of Edward IV of England, and James the son of James III of Scotland, which described it as "this Nobill Isle, callit Gret Britanee." It was used again in 1604, when King James VI and I, in a deliberate attempt to impose a term which would unite his double inheritance of the kingdoms of Scotland and England, proclaimed his assumption of the throne in the style "King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland ..."
Use of the term "Great Britain" ==="Great Britain" refers to the majority of the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" (UK). It refers to the largest island only, or to England, Scotland and Wales as a unit (though these three countries also include many smaller islands). It does not include Northern Ireland.Britain 2001:The Official Handbook of the United Kingdom, 2001, ONS/Her Majesty"s Stationary Office, London, ISB

The term Britain, not Great Britain, has sometimes been used to mean the United Kingdom, for example in official government yearbooks between 1975 and 2001.Britain 2001: The Official Handbook of the United Kingdom, 2001, ONS/Her Majesty"s Stationary Office, London, ISBN 011 621278 0 Since 2002, however, the yearbooks have used "United Kingdom"., international sports teams, NATO, the International Organization for Standardization country codes ISO 3166-2 and ISO 3166-1 alpha-3, and international licence plate codes.

On the Internet, .uk is used as a country code top-level domain for the United Kingdom. A ".gb" top-level domain was also used to a limited extent in the past, but this is now effectively obsolete because the domain name registrar will not take new registrations.
Biodiversity ======Fauna
Robin is popularly known as "Britain"s favourite bird". Retrieved on 1 February 2009.
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. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. Great Britain has also gone through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, which have contributed towards the overall loss of species. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. A DEFRA study from 2006 suggested that 100 species have become extinct in the UK during the 20th century, about 100 times the background extinction rate.DEFRA, 2006 However, some species, such as the brown rat, red 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 squirrels, mice, voles, rats and the recently reintroduced European beaver. There is also an abundance of rabbits, hares, hedgehogs, shrews, moles and several species of bat. Carnivorous mammals include the fox, badger, otter, weasel, stoat and elusive wildcat.Else, "Great Britain", 85. Various species of seal, whale 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 deer also 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, Retrieved on 16 February 2009. of which 258 breed on the island or remain during winter. Retrieved on 16 February 2009. Because of its mild winters for its latitude, Great Britain hosts important numbers of many wintering species, particularly ducks, geese and swans. Retrieved on 16 February 2009. Other well known bird species include the golden eagle, grey heron, kingfisher, pigeon, sparrow, pheasant, partridge, and various species of crow, finch, gull, auk, grouse, owl and falcon. Retrieved on 16 February 2009. There are six species of reptile on the island; three snakes and three lizards including the legless slow worm. One snake, the adder, is venomous but rarely deadly. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. Amphibians present are frogs, toads and newts.
Flora
Heather growing wild in the Highlands at Dornoch.
In a similar sense to fauna, and for similar reasons, the flora of Great Britain is impoverished compared to that of continental Europe. Retrieved on 23 February 2009. Great Britain"s flora comprises 3,354 vascular plant species, of which 2,297 are native and 1,057 have been introduced into the island.Frodin, "Guide to Standard Floras of the World", 599. The island has a wide variety of trees, including native species of birch, beech, ash, hawthorn, elm, oak, yew, pine, cherry and apple. Retrieved on 2 March 2009. Other trees have been naturalised, introduced especially from other parts of Europe (particularly Norway) and North America. Introduced trees include several varieties of pine, chestnut, maple, spruce, sycamore and fir, as well as cherry plum and pear trees. The tallest species are the Douglas firs; two specimens have been recorded measuring 65 metres or 212 feet. Retrieved on 2 March 2009. The Fortingall Yew in Perthshire is the oldest tree in Europe. Retrieved on 23 February 2009.

There are at least 1,500 different species of wildflower in Britain, Retrieved on 23 February 2009. 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. Retrieved on 23 February 2009.
A vote in 2002 nominated various wildflowers to represent specific counties. Retrieved on 23 February 2009. These include red poppies, bluebells, daisies, daffodils, rosemary, gorse, iris, ivy, mint, orchids, brambles, thistles, buttercups, primrose, thyme, tulips, violets, cowslip, heather and many more. Retrieved on 23 February 2009. Retrieved on 23 February 2009. Retrieved on 23 February 2009. Retrieved on 23 February 2009. There are also many species of algae, lichens, fungi and mosses across the island. Retrieved on 23 February 2009.
Religion
Canterbury Cathedral, seat of the Anglican Church – the island"s largest denomination
Christianity is the largest religion on the island and has been since the Early Middle Ages, though its existence on the island dates back to the Roman introduction in antiquity and continued through Early Insular Christianity. The largest form practised in present day Britain is Anglicanism (also known as Episcopalism in Scotland), dating from the 16th century Reformation period, the religion regards itself as both Catholic and Reformed. Head of the Church is the monarch of the United Kingdom as the Supreme Governor. It has the status of established church in England. There are just over 26 million adherents to Anglicanism in Britain today. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. The second largest Christian practice in Britain is the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church which traces its formal, corporate history in Great Britain to the 6th century with Augustine"s mission and was the main religion on the island for around a thousand years. There are over 5 million adherents in Britain today; 4.5 million in England and Wales Retrieved on 1 February 2009. and 750,000 in Scotland. Retrieved on 1 February 2009.

Saint Alban – the first Christian saint from Britain
The Church of Scotland, a form of Protestantism with a Presbyterian system of ecclesiastical polity is the third most numerous on the island with around 2.1 million members. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. Introduced in Scotland by clergyman John Knox, it has the status of national church in Scotland. The monarch of the United Kingdom is represented prominently by a Lord High Commissioner. Methodism is the fourth largest and grew out of Anglicanism through John Wesley. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. It gained popularity in the old mill towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, also amongst tin miners in Cornwall. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. The Presbyterian Church of Wales, which follow Calvinistic Methodism, is the largest denomination in Wales. There are other non-conformist minorities, such as Baptists, Quakers, the United Reformed Church (a union of Congregationalists and English Presbyterians), Unitarians and more. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. The first patron saint of Great Britain was Saint Alban.Dawkins, "The Shakespeare Enigma", 343. He was the first Christian martyr dating from the Romano-British period, condemned to death for his faith and was sacrificed to the pagan gods.Butler, "Butler"s Lives of the Saints", 141. In more recent times, some have suggested the adoption of Saint Aidan as another patron saint of Britain. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. Originally from Ireland, he worked at Iona amongst the Dál Riata and then Lindisfarne where he restored Christianity to Northumbria.

Three constituent countries of the United Kingdom located on the island have patron saints; Saint George and Saint Andrew are represented in the flags of England and Scotland respectively. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. These two saintly flags combined form the basis of the Great Britain royal flag of 1604. Saint David is the patron saint of Wales. There are many other British saints, some of the best known include; Cuthbert, Columba, Patrick, Margaret, Edward the Confessor, Mungo, Thomas More, Petroc, Bede and Thomas Becket. Retrieved on 1 February 2009.

Baitul Futuh – the largest mosque in Western Europe
Numerous non-Christian religions are practised in Great Britain. Judaism has a history of a small minority on the island since 1070. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. The Jews were expelled from England in 1290 until being allowed to return in 1656. Their history in Scotland is quite obscure until later migrations from Lithuania. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. Especially since the 1950s religions from the former colonies have become more prevalent; Islam is the most common of these with around 1.5 million adherents in Britain. Retrieved on 1 February 2009. A total of more than 1 million people practise either Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism, religions introduced from India and South East Asia.
Settlements
Capital cities ===The capitals of the three countries of the United Kingdom which comprise Great Britain
* England: London
* Scotland: Edinburgh
* Wales: Cardiff
Other major cities ===The largest cities in Great Britain by urban area population (not including the capital cities listed above) are Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffi
See also ===* List of islands of Eng
* List of islands of Scotland
* List of islands of Wales
References ======Footnotes
Bibliography
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External links
*
* – the BBC explores the coast of Great Britain
* – from the Ordnance Survey; various formats
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Category:Islands of the
Category:Northern Europe
Category:Western Europe

af:Groot-Brittanje
ang:Bryten
ar:بريطانيا العظمى
ast:Gran Bretaña
bn:গ্রেট ব্রিটেন
zh-min-nan:Britain
be:Востраў Вялікабрытанія
be-x-old:Вялікабрытанія (выспа)
bs:Velika Britanija
br:Breizh-Veur
bg:Великобритания (остров)
ca:Gran Bretanya
cv:Аслă Британи (утрав)
cs:Velká Británie (ostrov)
cy:Prydain Fawr
da:Storbritannien (ø)
de:Großbritannien (Insel)
et:Suurbritannia saar
es:Gran Bretaña
eo:Britio (insulo)
eu:Britainia Handia
fa:بریتانیای کبیر
fr:Grande-Bretagne
ga:An Bhreatain
gv:Yn Vretyn Vooar
gd:Breatainn Mhòr
gl:Gran Bretaña - Great Britain
ko:그레이트브리튼 섬
hr:Velika Britanija (otok)
id:Pulau Britania Raya
ia:Grande Britannia
is:Stóra-Bretland
it:Gran Bretagna
he:בריטניה הגדולה
kn:ಗ್ರೇಟ್ ಬ್ರಿಟನ್‌
ka:დიდი ბრიტანეთი (კუნძული)
kw:Breten Veur
sw:Britania
ku:Brîtanya (girav)
la:Britannia Maior
lv:Lielbritānija (sala)
lt:Didžioji Britanija (sala)
li:Groeët-Brittannië
lmo:Gran Bretagna
hu:Brit-sziget
mk:Велика Британија (остров)
ml:ഗ്രേറ്റ് ബ്രിട്ടൺ
mr:ग्रेट ब्रिटन
arz:بريطانيا العظمى
nl:Groot-Brittannië
nds-nl:Groot-Brittannie
ne:ग्रेट ब्रिटेन
ja:グレートブリテン島
no:Storbritannia (øy)
nn:Øya Storbritannia
nrm:Grande Brétangne
oc:Grand Bretanha
tpi:Bikpela Briten
nds:Grootbritannien
pl:Wielka Brytania (wyspa)
pt:Grã-Bretanha
kaa:Ullı Britaniya
ro:Marea Britanie
rmy:Bari Britaniya
rm:Gronda Britannia
qu:Hatun Britanya
ru:Великобритания (остров)
sco:Great Breetain
sq:Britania e madhe (ishull)
scn:Gran Britagna (ìsula)
simple:Great Britain
sk:Veľká Británia (ostrov)
sl:Velika Britanija
szl:Wjelgo Brytańijo (wyspa)
ckb:بریتانیای مەزن
sr:Велика Британија
sh:Britanija (otok)
fi:Iso-Britannia (saari)
sv:Storbritannien (ö)
tl:Gran Britanya
tt:Бөек Британия (утрау)
th:บริเตนใหญ่
tg:Британияи Кабир
to:Pilitānia
tr:Büyük Britanya
tk:Beýik Britaniýa
uk:Великобританія (острів)
vi:Đảo Anh
wa:Grande Burtaegne
vls:Grôot-Brittannië
yi:גרויסבריטאניע
yo:Erékùṣù Brítánì Olókìkí
bat-smg:Dėdliuojė Brėtanėjė
zh:大不列顛島
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"Great Britain" (informally "Britain") is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the . With a population
reaThe Victorian expansion of Luton focused on areas close to the existing town centre and railways. In the 1920s and 1930s growth typically was though absorbing neighbouring villages and hamlets and infill construction between them and Luton. After
:"This article is about Northampton in England; for other places of the same name see Northampton (disambiguation)" Northampton|status = Borough|region = East Midlands|admincounty = |area = Ranked
 S|latitude= 53.7939|longitude= -1.75206|official_name= | population = 293,717| population_ref =  (2001 Census) |population_density= |metropolitan_borough= City of |metropolitan_county=
"Bebington" is a small town and electoral ward within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, in , England. It lies south of Liverpool and west southwest of Manchester, along the River Mersey on the eastern side of the Wirral Peninsula. Nearby towns
"York" () is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence.The
 
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