The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, better know as the United Kingdom or UK is the pinnacle of modern European society. The UK is located in Western Europe, above France and to the left of Scandinavia. Like our previous country, the UK spans a large archipelago which includes the island of Great Britain and the North- Eastern part of the island of Ireland. The UK is special in the sense that it is made up of 4 countries; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The UK is home to over 62 million people and is considered a great power today.
The United Kingdom is extremely rich in history and is one of the most well known countries in the world. In the past, the UK had dominated almost 1/4 of planet Earth’s land area; once the world’s greatest empire. How the UK managed to accomplish this feat in the face of insurmountable odds remains one of history’s greatest mysteries. However, today, the UK is only a mere shadow of her former glory. Nevertheless, the UK has seeded growth in many poorer parts of the world which have grown rich and famous today; from the tiny islands of Hong Kong and Singapore to the massive continents of Australia and North America.
The UK has contributed so much to mankind. From the very language we speak to the multitude of life changing inventions, the UK truly is one with the force. The UK continues to touch each and every one of our lives in one way or another. Her legacy shall live on forever in our hearts and minds.
Everyone, give a double thumbs up to the United Kingdom! 😀
NOTE #1 : As in my previous articles, I have chosen 3 points of interest about this country and elaborated on them. Sit back, grab something to eat or drink and enjoy the article!
NOTE #2 : This article places more emphasis on England. My apologies for not being able to touch more on Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Once upon a time, Great Britain had ruled almost a quarter of the world. Some regarded the British as liberators who brought about true modern civilization to their land, others regarded them as greedy colonialists who robbed their land of their wealth. Whatever the truth may be, Great Britain had done the impossible; In one way or another, Britain managed to bring much of the world under their rule throughout the 16th ’till 20th centuries. They spanned the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australasia and Oceania, as pictured above. By having control over these territories, Britain had become a great superpower and one of the richest countries in the world in the span of a few centuries. However, during this time many other European countries such as France, Holland, Spain and Portugal were also racing to conquer new land as well. Britain was not alone and colonisation was no easy task.
Unfortunately, the advent of the first and second World Wars in the first half of the 20th century brought about the beginning of the end for the almighty British Empire. Even though the Allied Forces won the wars, Britain had already suffered massive losses by the time World War II came to an end in 1945. As a result, Britain was forced to relinquish control over much of her overseas colonies and territories. The crown jewel of Britain’s colonies, India became fully independent shortly after the Second World War in 1947, successfully ending hundreds of years of British colonial rule. Following India’s independence, many of Britain’s colonies were to become independent as well. The final major British colony to have become independent is the small Chinese territory of Hong Kong. The Handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997 was perceived by many as the end of the British Empire. For those of us who remembered, it was a truly sad and touching moment in our modern history. If you had watched the Handover ceremony, you will know what I mean.
Today, no more than 14 British colonies or officially, overseas territories remain, a far cry from the once mind- boggling numbers of the past. Fortunately, Britain’s legacy lives on in their former colonies. Their literature and culture have shaped the societies and cultures of many countries all over the world. 54 former British influenced territories have united under the Commonwealth of Nations today. It is not regarded as a political union however, but rather an exclusive club. The Commonwealth organizes events such as the Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth remains a silent testimony to British Empire’s former glory and a strong reminder to all in the importance of maintaining mutual respect for others, regardless of race or nationality, democracy, human rights and world peace among others. Each and every member of the Commonwealth of Nations are regarded as equals.
Personally, I do not like the idea of colonialism or imperialism. Every eligible government has the right to live in and govern their respective societies and territories. We cant take that right away, unless if the country is in absolute turmoil and in a near uncivilized state such as modern day Somalia. However, I suppose most countries in those days were roughly in a bad shape anyway. Our world today has come a long way from what it was back then. What we see today is a result of great changes in the past. I suppose it would not be wrong to say that the British Empire had a mostly positive effect on the majority of their former colonies. The British somehow or rather helped in introducing modern civilization to most of our world without the use of extreme violence. They claimed it was the white man’s burden. The British Empire is nothing like the Japanese Empire or the Nazi Empire of World War II, where the native peoples were ruthlessly murdered and pushed aside all in the name of racism, greed and sheer stupidity. Compared to these empires, the British Empire seems far more considerate and rationalistic. Nevertheless, many continue to disagree with these statements above. Hence, I would consider these statements a matter of opinion and not necessarily facts. It all depends on who you ask.
Ah, the English language, one of the most well recognized languages in the world. It is spoken by hundreds of millions of people today in well over a hundred countries. The English language helps blur the line between race, nationality and religion. It is simply not your average language. If you recall details from my previous articles, I had mentioned both the Russian and Japanese languages were among my favourites as well. However, I like each one of these languages for very specific reasons. I like Russian because it simply sounds cool and I like Japanese because it is spoken in a very pleasant manner. I love English most of all because it has become the very backbone of our modern society and also because it is my primary language. Where would we be without the English language today?
English has it’s roots in Western Germany, Scandinavia and Latin Europe. It is the de facto national language of the United Kingdom. Besides the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand have majority English speaking populations as well. All these countries were once British colonies. Furthermore, more and more people all over the world are beginning to pick up English as a secondary language after realizing the role it plays in our modern globalised society. English is considered an international language, one of only a select few. You may ask, how is it possible that English is so popular when England or the United Kingdom itself is physically small in size and population wise? How come countries like China and India which have populations of well over a billion each and land area enough to fit dozens of countries the size of England in them are not on the list? The answer is simple. The popularity of English today is a result of British colonialism throughout the centuries. As mentioned above, the British Empire was once the biggest in the world. When Britain colonized new territory, they also introduced English to the indigenous or local populations. Over time, more and more locals picked up English as a result of the British colonial intervention. Big countries like China and India did not go about colonizing the world, and hence, their respective languages were mostly kept within their borders and neighbouring countries.
English has also influenced other languages around the world. Many languages borrow elements and words from the English vocabulary, especially Science- related words. For example, hydrogen, helium, neon etc. are merely spelt and pronounced differently in other languages. As mentioned above, English is also related to all the other Western European languages. They arent all that different from one another if you really dig into their roots. If you can speak English, chances are you can easily pick up some basic Spanish and Portuguese as well because all these languages share a lot in common with one another. Various English speakers all over the world speak English is very different accents. For example, an American English speaker would sound odd to an English speaker from the United Kingdom, and vice versa. However, this doest give any of us the right to make fun of others just because they speak English in different accents. At the end of the day, they are still speaking English, and we would just be making ourselves look immature by poking fun at others’ accents.
However, I am not trying to say all other languages are inferior to English, no, not at all. In my humble opinion, each and every citizen should be proud of their national language/ mother tongue as well. It does not matter how popular or established your national language/ mother tongue is because at the end of the day, your national language/ mother tongue is what makes you special and unique. You should not sell yourselves to other cultures just because they are superior. Sadly, that is exactly the case here in my country, the rest of South- East Asia and many other parts of the developing 3rd world to an extent. A xenocentric society would only bring about the ultimate downfall of any country because a country can only exist if the people who live in the country’s borders are loyal to their country and not to someone else’s. We should be proud of our national heritage.
Anyone who chose to learn English would have picked up a very useful trait. By learning English, we have opened doors to a multitude of life- changing paths and decisions. I’m glad I decided to learn English. Who knows where I would be today if I did not choose to study English. I would have probably written this article in a different language and most of you would not have been able to read it. Language is an important part of our modern society. In those days when men used to hunt for food in packs and lived in caves, language was probably the last thing on their minds. Its a different story today. We need to learn each others’ languages to better understand our world and each other. I believe most minor problems can and should be solved with persuasive words. There is no need for violence. That is why learning English would probably be one of the wisest decisions you’ll ever make. Where would you be if you did not choose to learn English? Think about it.
The Americans call it soccer but most of us just know it as football. Association football became so popular in recent centuries that it was established as the national sport of England and has gained popularity in many parts of the world with the advent of organisations such as FIFA. The reason why this sport is chosen as the 3rd point of interest in this article is because it is a major sport in the United Kingdom, most specifically England, which is among the Top 10 most competitive countries in the respective sport, according to FIFA rankings.
Football is played differently in different parts of the world but since this article is geared towards the United Kingdom, I will be talking about association football, the one most of us and more importantly, the English people are accustomed to. ( Note : From here on out the word football shall refer to association football ) Football is a fairly simple sport; drive the ball into the rival team’s goal without using your hands ( hence, the reason why it is called football ) to score points. However, this is much easier said than done. There will be 11 people on your team and another 11 on the rival team ( excluding substitutes ). A player on each team plays as the goalkeeper ( the player who will try to stop the ball from getting into the goal with his body and yes, he gets use his hands too if you’re wondering ). The other 20 players are the defenders ( first line of defence for the goals ), midfielders ( all- rounders ) and the strikers ( the players who will try to shoot the ball into the enemy goal ). Football is normally played on a large rectangular field.
England has some of the most and best football teams or clubs in the world. Out of a total of 40,000, only about 4-5 clubs from the English Premier League are among the most well known worldwide to date. They are the Manchester United F.C. a.k.a The Red Devils, Arsenal F.C a.k.a The Gunners, Liverpool F.C. a.k.a The Reds, Tottenham Hotspur F.C. a.k.a Spurs, and Chelsea F.C. a.k.a The Blues. There are still a ton of clubs left out there but it would take forever to list them all down here so unfortunately, these 5 clubs will have to represent England/ United Kingdom in this article. You may ask which one of the aforementioned clubs may be my most favourite; honestly, I dont have a most favourite right now, my apologies, but I guess that leaves me with an open mind. You will not find any fan related comments here because I fly a white flag… for now at least. I did a poll on the social networking site, facebook a couple of days ago and from 18 friends who voted, 7 of them were for Arsenal F.C., another 6 for Manchester United F.C. and 5 more for Liverpool F.C.. Sadly, there were no votes for Chelsea F.C., Tottenham Hotspur F.C. or any other football club for that matter. Now, bear in mind that this is only a minor survey and the number of votes per team do not necessarily translate into anything close to the actual figures. However we do get a rough idea of how popular these clubs are today ( among my friends anyway ).
Personally, I’m not much of a football player or fan. I just play for fun and health. Nevertheless, I respect football in general as a brilliant sport and pastime alike. Association football has to be the United Kingdom’s/ England’s greatest contribution to sports. Football made legends out of people like Christiano Ronaldo and Michael Essien, among others. Besides that, football also helps bring our worlds together. This was clearly proven in the recent 2010 FIFA World Cup where millions upon millions of fans and regular citizens alike tuned in to watch the event. In my opinion, only 4 things in the world can bring us all together; water, food, love and games. On that note, I’d like to say that association football definitely deserves it’s respective title as the world’s most popular sport.
We have come to our conclusion. The United Kingdom is a country all of us should respect and love. She has contributed much to mankind’s quest for perfection. We must never forget out history, we must never forget the United Kingdom. God save the Queen.
I’m afraid that is all for now. I sincerely hope that all of you enjoyed reading this article and once more, I apologize for the long wait. Thank you for reading and please comment, vote and send me some feedback so I can improve upon the formula. Since the reception from the previous polls have been very welcoming, I have decided to retain that feature. You can vote for the next country you would like to see below. Thank you everyone and have a nice day.
Dedicated to Siow E Kent – R.I.P ( 1995 – 2011 )
- Wikipedia for the information and data
- Wikimedia for various images
- Google Images
- FIFA Official Website
- Various websites for images, information and data
- All my supportive friends and fans
- All who voted in the previous poll
- All 18 people who voted in the facebook poll ( MY = Malaysia, SG= Singapore, IN = India );
- – Hardy Zainul (MY), Jing Min (MY), Shamirren Elango (MY), Shangar Siva (MY), Faiez (SG), Irshad (SG), Aw Ming Cheong (MY), Malini Shan (MY), Kushdev Gill (MY), Akshmini Nathan (MY), SanVisna Kogelen (MY), Lee Wern Jian (MY), Lee Han Ming (MY), Yap May Yi (MY), Gurjit Singh Jassal (MY), Steven Ramesh (MY), Thanaraja Segaran (MY), Hari Krishna Daggubati (IN).