THE REGIONS OF BRITAIN
Britain is a relatively small country. The
distance from the north coast of Scotland to the south
coast of England is approximately 600 miles (almost
1,000 km), and it is about 320 miles (just over 500
km) across the widest part of England and Wales. However,
nowhere in Britain is more
than 75 miles (120 km) from the coast.
Many people remark on the great variety in the British
landscape. In the space of a few hours it is possible
to travel from a major cosmopolitan city to historic
sites, old cathedrals, villages, moors and mountains.
one respect, almost every part of Britain
the same. A common language, national newspapers,
radio, and television, and shops with branches throughout
Kingdom mean that
everybody, to some degree, shares a similar culture.
However beneath the increasingly standardised
appearance of our city centres
and suburbs, there are real diversities and cultural
differences between different parts of the United Kingdom.
the two most distinctive areas of Britain
and Scotland. Both
have their own language. Welsh is taught in schools
and widely spoken in north and west Wales.
Gaelic is still spoken in the Highlands
and Islands of Scotland. Many people believe that
the Welsh and the Scots have a stronger sense of identity
and culture than the English - perhaps brought about by their struggle
to stay independent. The creation of the Assembly
for Wales and the Scottish Parliament in 1999 has led
some people to suggest that England
needs its own parliament and there is now considerable
discussion about what is a distinctive English identity.
are a clear indication of regional differences in
Britain. Geordie, Scouse, and Cockney are well-known dialects from Tyneside, Liverpool, and London respectively, but other differences in
speech exist in all parts of the country. Scottish
and Welsh speech is distinctive, and varies within
those two countries. In some areas a person's accent
will indicate where they are from, within a distance
of twenty miles.
differences also exist in tile styles of buildings
and the materials used in their construction. Thatched
cottages, much less common than they once were, are
mainly products of the south, the south-west and east
of England. Older
buildings are usually made from local stone, giving
houses in North Yorkshire,
Derbyshire, and many other places a unique appearance.
industrial legacy of regions also gives rise to distinct
styles of architecture. The mill towns of northern
England are good examples of this.
The insularity of some communities, particularly on
the coast and in remote corners of Britain,
has meant that their appearance has changed very little
in the past 50 years. In contrast, other areas, whose
traditional industries have been replaced by others,
are almost unrecognisable
from what they were a generation ago.