Britain lives by manufacture and trade. For every person employed in agriculture eleven people are employed in mining, manufacturing and building. The UK is one of
the world's largest exporters of manufactured goods per head of population.
Apart from coal and iron ore Britain has got very few natural resources and mostly depends on imports. Its agriculture provides only half the food it needs. The other half and the most of the raw materials for its industries such as oil and various metals have to be imported. Britain has to import timber, cotton, fruit and farm products.
The country used to be richly forested, but most of the forests were cut down to make room for cultivation. The greater part of land is used for cattle-raising, sheep-raising and pig breeding. Among the crops grown on British farms are wheat, barley and oats. The fields are mainly found in the eastern part of the country. Farms tend to be bigger where the soil is less fertile.
In the 19th century Britain secured a leading position in the world as manufacturer, merchant and banker. After World War I the world demand for the products of Britain's traditional industries - textiles, coal and machinery fell off, and Britain began expanding trade in engineering products and electrical goods.
The crisis of 1929-1933 brought about mass unemployment, which reached its peak in 1932. Britain's share in the world industrial output decreat. After the crisis there was some revival in production, employment and world trade as the result of extensive armament program.
After World War 2 the situation radically changed. Now Britain is no longer the leading imperialist power it used to be. It has lost its colonies which used to supply it with cheap raw materials.
Britain produces high quality expensive goods which have always been characteristic of its industry. It mostly produces articles requiring skilled labour, such as precision instruments, electronic equipment, chemicals and high quality consumer goods, among them are cotton goods, leather goods, and woolen goods.
The original basis of British industry was coal-mining, and the early factories grew up not far from the main mining areas. Glasgow and Newcastle became great centres of engineering and shipbuilding. Lancashire produced cotton goods and Yorkshire woollens, with Sheffield concentrating on iron and steel. Birmingham developed light engineering. Then there appeared a tendency for industry and population to move to the south, particularly to London area. Now there is a great progress in the development of new industries, such as aircraft, automobile, electronic industries and others.
a) What natural resources does Great Britain have?
b) What raw materials does Great Britain import?
c) What produce does the country export?
d) What did the crisis of 1929-1933 bring about?
e) What is a characteristic feature of British industry?
f) What are the main articles produced by British industry?
g) What are the main industrial centres of the country?
h) What can you say about British agriculture?