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English - speaking countries

    English-speaking countries are those where most of the population speaks English as their mother tongue. These countries include Great Britain, Ireland, the USA and so called Commonwealth countries. The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of Britain and her former colonies. It developed in the 1st half of the 20th century when Britain gave self-government to her colonies. Founding members were Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Later the Commonwealth included many African, Asian, South American and Caribbean nations (for example Kenya, The Bermudas, Jamaica, India, Gibraltar and so on). Nowadays there are about 50 independent states. It is founded more on tradition and sentiment than on political or economical principles. There is cooperation in culture, education, science and sports. Queen Elizabeth II is the formal head of this association, but she isn't the ruler of the member states. An independent member of the Commonwealth is called a dominion, where the Queen is represented by a governor general.
    Canada is situated in the north part of North America and it includes many islands (for example Newfoundland). It is the second largest and one of the coldest countries in the world. Its neighbour is the USA in the south and north-west (Alaska). Canada has large mountain areas, especially in the west, such as Rocky Mountains. The longest rivers are the Mackenzie or the Yukon. The Great Lakes Region is on the border between the USA and Canada. There are lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario (between   these two are the Niagara Falls). But there are also other beautiful lakes - for example Great Bear Lake of Great Slave Lake. The climate is very cold in the north, to the south it's getting warmer. The north of the country near the Arctic is a cold tundra, to the south there are large forests. The central plains in the south form the prairies which are very fertile and that's why good for farming and wheat growing.
    The country isn't densely populated, the majority of people live in big cities near the south border and the north parts are almost uninhabited. The people are mainly of British and French origin, but the original inhabitants are Indians and Eskimos (called Inuits). The capital city is Ottawa. The country is divided into ten provinces and two territories. The largest province is the French-speaking Quebec, other provinces are for example Alberta, Manitoba or Ontario. Big cities are Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver. Canada is very rich in mineral resources - gold, uranium, oil, gas and metals. It also produces a lot of timber because there are many forests.
    Australia is the smallest continent and it is surrounded by the Indian and the Pacific Ocean. Along the east coast there is the Great Barrier Reef, which is the biggest coral reef on the Earth. Most people live in big towns along the east coast, because the central parts are mostly deserts.
    The original inhabitants were black natives (called Aborigines). Australia was discovered by James Cook in the 18th century and then it became a colony for British prisoners. In 1850s gold was found there so many immigrants from Europe came to Australia. It became an independent state in 1901.
    The Great Dividing Range stretches along the east coast and there is the highest Australian mountain Mt. Kosciusko (about 2,000 metres high). The central parts are formed by deserts and the climate there is very dry and hot. There aren't many long rivers in Australia - the longest  ones are the Murray and the Darling. The typical countryside is the bush. We can find there many interesting animals - such as kangaroo, koala, platypus or dingo which don't live anywhere else. Australia is in the southern hemisphere which means that it has summer when we have winter and the other way round.
    Minerals such as iron, coal, zinc, gold or silver are the main mineral resources. There are big sheep stations (farms) and wheat growing. The country consists of six states (Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania) and two territories. The capital city is Canberra. The biggest cities are Sydney, Melbourne or Perth.
New Zealand
    New Zealand consists of two large islands (North and South Island) and it is situated in the Pacific Ocean. The countryside on the islands is very beautiful - there are snow-capped mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and lakes. An interesting fact is that there are more sheep than people in New Zealand. The original inhabitants are the Maoris and the national symbol is the bird kiwi.

mother tongue mateřský jazyk platypus ptakopysk
the Commonwealth Britské společenství národů hemisphere polokoule
timber stavební dřevo wheat pšenice
The Great Dividing Range Velké předělové pohoří glacier ledovec
stretch táhnout se volcano sopka

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