From the place of the world’s first economic and industrial power, Britain fell to 4th place in Europe due to the collapse of the colonial empire, war losses and increasing global competition. This decline was not prevented even by the use of oil and natural gas reserves in the North Sea, the entry into the European Community and a large increase in the share of services in the country’s economy.
Agriculture and fishing
According to Homeagerly, agriculture covers about 2/3 of food consumption, but employs only 2% of the working population. The most arable land is in the east of the country, the rest of the territory is strongly dominated by pastures, which make up almost half of the country’s surface. Sheep are raised first, followed by cattle, pigs and poultry. The breeding of sports horses is famous. The main crops are wheat, barley, potatoes and sugar beet. The production of fodder and hops is also important. Production is highly mechanized.
Fishing is also becoming more efficient, but still declining, due to the plundering of fishing grounds and foreign competition. There have been clashes with Iceland and Denmark over fishing in territorial waters. Fish farming, especially salmon, is expanding. Forests suitable for logging cover less than 5% of the land area. They are run by both private individuals and the state.
Britain’s limited mineral reserves are already well depleted. Almost all coal mines in South Wales were closed in the 1990s. Although hard coal mining is still quite significant, the country today mostly burns cheap imported coal.
In 1962, natural gas was discovered, and in 1975, the first oil deposits were discovered in the North Sea. Britain soon even became an oil exporter. Electric power is mainly provided by conventional thermal power plants, but more than 20% is accounted for by nuclear power plants (the largest is Heysham). There are a number of small hydroelectric plants in operation in Scotland.
The importance of traditional steelmaking, as well as shipbuilding (Clyde, Tees, Tyne and Wear estuaries), has declined sharply. The most important industry is the production of vehicles, cars and aircraft (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Wolverhampton). It is known for the production of textile machines, energy equipment, office and, more recently, computer technology. Petrochemicals and subsequent chemical production experienced great development. Traditional textile production (products made of wool, cotton, linen and jute) is widespread. It is famous for its production of Scotch whiskey (Scotland’s most important export item) and beer. London remains one of the world’s most important business and financial centers. Numerous historical monuments, cultural events and a diverse landscape have fueled a boom in tourism in Britain (almost 20 million visitors a year).
The industrial revolution in the 19th century created the need for the construction of a railway network and water canals, and later also roads. After nationalization in 1947, despite its modernization, the importance of railway transport declined. It mainly serves to transport cargo between the hinterland and the ports, the most important of which are London, Tees and Hartlepool, Milford Haven oil terminal, Southampton and Liverpool. Coastal caboose transport is important.
Since 1960, the highway (3200 km) and road network has been expanding. However, its capacity is not enough, and especially in the southeast, the roads are still congested. Local and long-distance bus transport is developed. The traffic load will increase further with the full use of the Channel Tunnel, which was inaugurated in May 1994.
Privatized British Airways is one of the world’s largest airlines, and London, with its Heathrow and Gatwick airports, is the largest air hub in Europe. A total of 53 British cities have regular air connections.>/p>
Connections and media
During the 1980s, telecommunications were privatized. All British newspapers are privately owned, the main owners being two large companies. There is no formal censorship. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) operates as an independent public corporation that administers most local and national radio and television broadcasting. The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) supervises commercial television and radio broadcasting licences. Re special services include Welsh language broadcasting, satellite networks and small but significant cable networks.
Health and social care
The state health care system, which was established in 1948, provides free health care and hospital treatment. Children, the elderly and the poor are also exempt from the fee for eye examinations, dental care and medicines. There are 2500 public hospitals in the country and a number of direct payment private hospitals.
Education is free and compulsory from the age of 5 to 16. In the late 1980s, national curricula were introduced. Apart from the state schools, there are about 450 paid private schools in operation. Almost a third of students continue their studies at universities or other forms of post-secondary education.