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British Contributions To World: English Language and Democratic Government

By: Kathy Diener

Date Posted: 2000-07-07

Britain, or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as it is formally named, is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is the largest of the group of islands known as the British Isles. with a land area approximately the size of Oregon and a population of 59 million, Britain is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The vast majority of its citizens are city dwellers, due in part to the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, which built up major urban areas.

Britain, a world leader in environmental protection, has also severely restricted development in some areas to maintain productive agricultural land.

Most of Britain's citizens are Anglo-Saxon, descended from the Germanic tribes who overran the island and conquered the native Celts between the 5th and 7th centuries. The population also includes substantial minorities, such as Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Africans, and Caribbean peoples. Britain is generally a tolerant society and ethnic differences, outside of Northern Ireland, have sparked relatively little violence and hostility.

Britain's most significant contributions to the world have been language and government. English is rapidly becoming a global language, as Latin once was. The prominence of English can be attributed to the expansion of the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries. By the early 1900s, one quarter of the world's people and land were under some form of British control.

After World War II, much of the British Empire was dismantled. However, most former colonies still belong to the Commonwealth of Nations as independent members. Britain's bicameral parliamentary government has served as a model for democracy throughout the world, even in places that were never included in the British Empire.

Reforming Prime Minister Blair Wants Irish Peace, Better Health, Welfare, EU Relations.

Representing Britain at the G-8 Summit will be Prime Minister Tony Blair. At age 47, he is one of the youngest people ever to hold the office. Upon completing his education at St. John's College in Oxford, Blair became a lawyer specializing in trade union and industrial law in 1976.

Blair began his political career in 1983, when he was elected to Parliament as a member of the Labor Party. Favored by Labor leaders for his moderate positions, he quickly advanced to his party's front ranks, becoming party leader in May 1994. He began efforts to make the party more mainstream and less dependent on trade unions, which had been criticized in the past for aggravating the country's inflation and unemployment rates.

The success of these efforts culminated in an overwhelming victory for Blair and the Labor Party in the May 1997 general elections. After taking office, Blair pledged to improve relations with the European Union, institute reforms in welfare and health care, and recharge the stagnant peace talks in Northern Ireland. Despite a number of disappointments, Blair has remained committed to resolving the crisis in Northern Ireland.

Blair, who recently became a father for the fourth time, has enjoyed a high regard among the public since taking office. However, the most recent polls indicate his popularity is on the decline amid complaints he has failed to keep his promises on issues such as education and health care.

British Concerns At G8 Table: Debt Relief, Drug Control, Environment, IT.

In a speech to the Global Ethics Foundation in Germany on June 30, Blair outlined several key issues to be discussed at the Okinawa summit, all of which illustrate what he called " a concept of (global) solidarity based on enlightened self-interest. "

Blair addressed the issue of encouraging development in poorer nations, saying that free trade rather than protectionism is the key and that wealthy countries should free up trade in agricultural goods as a matter of "moral obligation." To that end, he called for a revival of the stalled World Trade Organization talks before the end of the year. He also praised the fact that debt relief for third-world countries is on the summit agenda and said that Britain intends to write off such debts.

Blair pointed out that the fight against international crime would make up an important part of the summit. He said discussions would focus on ways of controlling chemicals that are used to manufacture synthetic drugs, as well as ways to crack down on money laundering and financial crime which support international crime organizations.

Blair also stated that summit talks would focus on environmental protection, nuclear non-proliferation, and managing information and technology advances so as to avoid the emergence of what he described as "a global digital divide."

"Common problems," Blair said, "common interests have led to mutual responsibility and mutual gain."

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