THE UNITED KINGDOM 414. The region.—England, Scotland, and Wales make up the island called Great Britain. These countries, together with Ireland and about five thousand smaller islands near by, are spoken of as the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland." People often say England when they mean the United Kingdom. This king dom and its many possessions (Fig. 10) in all parts of the world comprise the British Empire.
We have already studied about the north of Scotland and the most northern British islands, the Hebrides, the Orkney, and Shetland. (Sec. 406.) 415. The surface.—The British Isles were once almost entirely covered by a great glacier, just as were parts of North America. This ice-sheet caused many lakes in Ireland, Scotland, and the north of England.
Most of Scotland is made up of two high lands. The southern highlands of Scotland extend on into England as a low range that reaches to the center of the country. Nearly all of Wales is mountainous. How high are the mountains of Wales? of Scotland? What moun tains in the United States are about the same height? (Fig. 309.) The south and east parts of England are a level or gently rolling plain. Much of it was once swampy and was called the fen, but it has been drained by ditches and is now farmed.
Most of Ireland is a plain with many peat bogs (grassy swamps) near the lakes, and low ranges of hills along the coasts.
416. Climate and energy.—The United Kingdom lies in the path of cyclonic storms (Sec. 59), such as we have in the United States. Indeed, many of our storms travel across the Atlantic and over Britain before their long journeys are completed. A geog Dr. Huntington of Yale University, says that the changes in the weather which occur with the passing of these storms are very important indeed for the health and energy of men. The changes from cool to warm, from rain to clear, make people feel like doing things. Perhaps this changing weather helps to explain the energy of the British. Certain it is that the people are energetic in work, in trade, in explora tion, and in play. From them
we got football, cricket, ten nis, polo, golf, and the mus- " 74. As,.
cle-building rowing race. I I 417. Climate and crops. d —If we compare the climate • of the British Isles with that of eastern North America, we shall see how different the two sides of an ocean can be (Fig. 329). All • England lies farther north than does the island of Anticosti in the Gulf of St. Fig. 332.
Lawrence (Fig. 210). We found in Section 251 that Anticosti is too cold for farming, yet England, still farther north, is one of the best agricultural countries of the world. In the cold waste of the interior of Labrador there is not one farmer or one flock of sheep or one herd of cows. Yet directly across the Atlantic Ocean, in Scotland, flocks of sheep graze in rich pasture in summer; in winter there is so little snow that they some times live without shelter, pasturing on the damp Scotch hills.
This oceanic climate (Sec. 409) gives western Europe surprisingly warm winters and cool summers. England cannot grow corn in these cool summers; but, in all parts of the islands where it is not too damp (Sec. 406), the small grains—wheat, oats, barley, and rye—flourish, as do potatoes, peas, and most garden vegetables.
418. Agriculture. — Wheat and milk.— What is the rainfall of Wales? of the East ern Plain of England? (Fig. 318.) Why the difference? (Figs. 340, 157.) Eastern England is one of the finest wheat countries in the world. The English wheat yield per acre is over 30 bushels, while in the United States it is about 15 bushels. De spite her fine yield, England is not growing as much wheat as she did a hundred years ago, because her people are now busy with manufacture. The United Kingdom has so many people that much of her agricultural land is in dairy farms producing milk for her many city people (Sec. 425). Why? (Sec. 95.) Wales, northwestern England, and the southern lowland of Scotland are lying much of the time under clouds, mist, and showers.