Political system – system polityczny

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, with executive power exercised on behalf of the Queen by the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers. The Prime Minister is chosen as the MP who can command a majority in the House of Commons – usually the leader of the largest party. The current Prime Minister is Tony Blair of the Labour Party, who has been in office since 1997.

Parliament is the national legislature of the United Kingdom. It is composed of the elected House of Commons and the unelected House of Lords, whose members are mostly appointed. The House of Commons is more powerful of the two houses. It has 646 members who are directly elected from single-member constituencies based on population. The House of Lords has 724 members constituted of Lords Temporal and Lords Spiritual.

Since the 1920, the two largest political parties in British politics have been the Labour Party and Conservative Party. The Liberal Democrats are the third major party in the UK Parliament.

The British Queen – Królowa Wielkiej Brytanii

In the United Kingdom the monarch has extensive theoretical powers, but his or her role is mainly ceremonial. The monarch is an integral part of Parliament (as the ‘Crown-in-Parliament’), summons Parliament and theoretically gives it the power to create legislation. An Act of Parliament does not become law until it has been signed by the Queen (being given Royal Assent), although no monarch has refused to assent to a bill since 1708. Although the abolition of the monarchy has been suggested several times, the popularity of the monarchy remains strong in spite of recent controversies.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Zjednoczone Królestwo Wielkiej Brytanii i Irlandii Północnej
parliamentary democracy – demokracja parlamentarna
constitutional monarchy – monarchia konstutucyjna
the House of Commons – Izba Gmin
the House of Lords – Izba Lordów
Member of Parliament, MP – członek parlamentu
constituency – okręg wyborczy
Lords Temporal (peers) – świeccy członkowie Izby Lordów
Lords Spiritual – przedstawiciele kościoła w Izbie Lordów
the Speaker (of the House) – marszałek
Conservative Party, Tories – Partia Konserwatywna
The Liberal Democrats – Liberalni Demokraci
Labour Party – Partia Pracy
the Cabinet – rząd
Prime Minister – premier
Chancellor of the Exchequer – Minister Skarbu

The British Queen – Królowa Wielkiej Brytanii
Queen Elizabeth II – królowa Elżbieta II
sovereign – władca, monarcha
to reign – panować
to ascend the throne – wstępować na tron
to crown – koronować
Head of State – głowa państwa
the commander-in-chief – dowódca, naczelny wódz
head of Church of England – głowa Kościoła anglikańskiego
to summon Parliament – zwoływać parlament
to dissolute Parliament – rozwiązywać parlament
royal assent – królewska zgoda
royal duties – obowiązki królewskie
ceremonial role – ceremonialna rola
to set an example – stanowić przykład
model of virtue – wzór cnot


Geography – geografia

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated in the British Isles off the north-western coast of continental Europe, and surrounded by the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The United Kingdom, often (inaccurately) referred to simply as ‘Britain’, is a constitutional monarchy composed by the political union of four constituent parts: the three constituent countries of England, Scotland, and Wales on the island of Great Britain, and the province of Northern Ireland on the island of Ireland.

Most of England consists of lowland terrain, divided east from west by more mountainous region in the Northwest (the Lake District) and north (the upland moors of the Pennines). The main rivers are the Thames and the Severn. The largest urban area is Greater London. Near Dover, the English Channel links the United Kingdom with France.

Scotland’s geography is varied, with lowlands in the south and east and highlands in the north and west, including Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain at 1359 metres. There are many long and deep-sea arms, firths and lochs. A multitude of islands west and north of Scotland are also included, notably the Hebrides, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands. The capital city is Edinburgh, the centre of which is a World Heritage Site. The largest city is Glasgow.

Wales is mostly mountainous, the highest peak being Snowdon at 1085 metres above sea level. North of the mainland is the island of Anglesey. The largest and capital city is Cardiff, located in South Wales.

Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland, making up the north-eastern part of Ireland, is mostly hilly. The main cities are Belfast and Londonderry.

Countries of the United Kingdom

  • England – Anglia
  • Scotland – Szkocja
  • Wales – Walia
  • Northern Ireland, Ulster – Irlandia Północna

the most important rivers – najważniejsze rzeki

  • the Thames,
  • the Severn

islands – (ważniejsze) wyspy

  • the Isle of Wight,
  • the Isle of Man,
  • the Shetlands,
  • the Orkneys,
  • the Hebrides

mountain ranges – łańcuchy górskie

  • the Pennines (England),
  • the Cambrian Mountains (Wales),
  • the Grampians (Scotland),
  • the Caledonian Mountains (Scotland)

the main ports – główne porty

  • London,
  • Liverpool,
  • Southampton

England – Anglia

  • capital – London
  • Birmingham, Menchester, Liverpool, Nottingham
  • The Lake District – Kraina Jezior
  • moors – wrzosowiska

Scotland – Szkocja

  • capital – Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Ben Nevis – najwyższy szczyt Wielkiej Brytanii
  • the Highlands – pogórze w północnej Szkocji
  • the Lowlands – obszar nizinny
  • loch – jezioro
  • firth – zatoka

Wales – Walia

capital – Cardiff

Northern Ireland – Irlandia ­Północna

  • capital – Belfast
  • Londonderry


Religion in the Great Britain – religia w Wielkiej Brytanii

The Church of England and the Church of Scotland function as the official national religions in their respective countries, but most religions found in the world are represented in the United Kingdom. Anglicanism is the state religion that has been established in England since 1534 during the reign of King Henry VIII. During his reign, England broke ties with the Roman Catholic Church and established the Church of England as the official religion. The senior clergy are appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, and the Archbishop of Canterbury is the religious head of the Church.

Church of England – Kościół anglikański
Anglicans – anglikanie
the Act of Supremacy – ustawa o zwierzchnictwie króla nad ­kościołem
the Archbishop of Canterbury – arcybiskup Canterbury (duchowny zwierzchnik Kościoła anglikań­skiego)
minister, vicar – pastor
rector – proboszcz
Church of Scotland – kościół ­Szkocji
Catholicism – katolicyzm


Traditions – tradycje

The British are very attached to their traditions. They love court ceremonies, jubilees and parades. Some of them are performed every day e.g. the changing of the royal guard in the forecourt of Buckingham palace or the Ceremony of the Keys. One of the most interesting events is the annual Trooping the Colour which is held in London to celebrate the Queen’s official birthday. The monarch watches a parade of the regiments of soldiers dressed in their traditional uniforms.

Changing of the Guard (Buckingham Palace) – zmiana warty
Ceremony of the Keys (Tower of London) – ceremonia zamykania Tower of London
the Chief Warder – główny wartownik
Beefeaters – strażnik londyńskiej Tower w stroju historycznym
Trooping the Colour (Whitehall) – parada wojskowa odbywająca się w dniu urodzin królowej
the Garter Ceremony – ceremonia wręczania Orderu Podwiązki
the Royal Ascot – wyścigi konne w Ascot


Traditional holidays – święta

There are a lot of occasions in the British calendar which are regarded as special. The most important religious holidays are Christmas and Easter. In February people, especially the young, celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day. They send Valentine’s cards to someone they love or like. On April 1 there is All Fools’ Day when people have fun playing jokes on one another. One of the most spectacular events is Royal Ascot. It is a big, four-day horseracing meeting attended by the Queen and other members of the royal family.

In August thousands of Londoners and tourists take part in Notting Hill Carnival. The participants dressed up in fancy costumes parade through the streets of the district and play African and Caribbean music. On the evening of 5 November people in Britain celebrate Guy Fawkes’ Night. Guy Fawkes was the Roman Catholic conspirator who planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The plot was discovered and the man was executed. People celebrate this historical event by setting off fireworks and burning dummies of Guy Fawkes on big bonfires.

Christmas – święta Bożego Narodzenia
Christmas Eve – Wigilia
Christmas Day – 25 grudnia
Boxing Day – 26 grudnia
St. Valentine’s Day – walentynki
All Fools’ Day – prima aprilis
Easter – Wielkanoc
Notting Hill Carnival – sierpniowy karnawał
Halloween – 31 października
Guy Fawkes’ Night – 5 listopada


London – Londyn

London is the capital city of the United Kingdom and of England. Today Greater London comprises the City of London and the 32 London boroughs (including the City of Westminster). The dominant centre of activity is the City of Westminster which is the main cultural and entertainment district as well as the centre of the UK’s national government. The City of London (also known as the Square Mile) is at the centre of international finance, and is Europe’s main business centre.

London is one of the most visited cities on earth. Tourist attractions are located mainly in Central London, comprising the historic City of London; the West End with its many cinemas, bars, clubs, theatres, shops and restaurants; the City of Westminster with Westminster Abbey, the royal residences of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and St. James’s Palace; the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea with its museums (the Science Museum, Natural History Museum) and Hyde Park. Other important tourist attractions include St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and the British Museum in Bloomsbury.

Tower of London – dawne więzienie przekształcone w muzeum
Crown Jewels – klejnoty koronne
St. Paul’s Cathedral – Katedra św. Pawła
Westminster Abbey – Opactwo Westminster
Gothic church – kościół gotycki
tombs – grobowce
the Houses of Parliament – parlament
Buckingham Palace – pałac Buckingham (rezydencja królewska)
St. James’s Park – najstarszy park Londynu
Downing Street No. 10 – siedziba premiera
National Gallery – Galeria Narodowa
British Museum – Muzeum Brytyjskie
Madame Tussaud’s – Muzeum Figur Woskowych „Madame Tussauds”
boroughs – dzielnice


Sport – sport

British traditional sports seem to match British character. They are rather slow and effortless. Darts and snooker are the best examples as they can be played in pubs in a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. One of the typically British sports is cricket. The game is played by two teams of 11 people on a mown grass field with special bats and wickets. Another British sport is polo which is believed to be reserved for the élite. It is a ball game played on horseback with mallets.

crisket – krykiet
cricketer – gracz w krykieta
bat – kij do krykieta
wicket – bramka w krykiecie
polo – polo
mallet – kij do gry w polo
golf – golf
golf-club – kij golfowy
golf course – pole golfowe
football – piłka nożna
snooker – snooker
darts – rzutki


Stereotype of an Englishman

It is not easy to decide on the typically British characteristics. Since not all English people are boring or reserved. Nevertheless, it’s not difficult to generalize and draw a portrait of a typical Briton. The fact that the Great Britain is an island lets us understand why people there differ so much from other nations. A typical Englishman is believed to be boring, cold, uncommunicative and phlegmatic. He eats tasteless food and he is the master of trivial conversations called small talk. Although he is extremely polite and well-mannered, it is not easy to make friends with him.

  • conservative – konserwatywny
  • reserved – powściągliwy
  • phlegmatic – flegmatyczny
  • unimaginative – pozbawiony wyobraźni
  • boring – nudny
  • uncomunicative – nierozmowny
  • to keep distance – utrzymywać dystans
  • tasteless food – jedzenie pozbawione smaku
  • sense of humour – poczucie humoru
  • small talk – rozmowa towarzyska
  • superficial – powierzchowny
  • courtesy – uprzejmość
  • polite – uprzejmy
  • well-mannered – dobrze wychowany
  • to have green fingers – być dob­rym w ogrodnictwie


Edinburgh – Edynburg

Edinburgh is the second-largest city in Scotland and its capital city. It is situated on the east coast of Scotland’s central lowlands on the south shore of the Firth of Forth. Edinburgh is well known for the annual Edinburgh Festival, the largest performing arts festival in the world, and for the Hogmanay street party.

  • Edinburgh Castle – zamek w Edynburgu
  • Edinburgh Military Tattoo – parady wojskowe odbywające się latem
  • Edinburgh Festival – Międzynarodowy Festiwal Sztuki
  • the Fringe – niszowa część festiwalu
  • the Royal Mile – najstarsza, zabytkowa ulica Edynburga