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Sunday, 9 June 2013

British Isles

The British Isles is a group of islands that are off the Northwest coast of Europe. The British Isles contains Great Britain and Ireland, and around 5,000 other small islands surrounding it. The term Britain is used to specifically refer to the largest island within the United Kingdom or to the unit of England, Scotland and Wales.

The island of Great Britain has been inhabited by early humans for at least 500,000 years. It is believed that these humans crossed a land bridge from continental Europe at that time.

The word “Britain” is derived from the Celtic tribe, the Brythons.

A Greek merchant and explorer, Pytheas of Massilia, produced the first written record of the British Isles, having sailed around them between about 330 and 320 BC. The inhabitants, he said, were skilled wheat farmers, usually peaceable — but formidable in war with their horse-drawn chariots.

The short-lived Britannic Empire began in 286 AD and lasted for ten years. Led by a breakaway Roman military commander, it included most of Britain and Northern Gaul, (now France) and ended when the Roman Emperor Constantius seized back control.

Vikings raided the abbey at Lindisfarne in Northumbria on June 8, 793. The date is, commonly accepted as the beginning of the beginning of the Scandinavian invasion of England.

The use of the name Britain dates back to the time of Aristotle, however the term Great Britain was not officially used until 1474 when a marriage proposal between Edward IV of England's daughter, Cecily, and James IV of Scotland was written.

The first person to use the word 'British' in a work of literature was William Shakespeare in King Lear.

The Battle of Fishguard was a military invasion of Great Britain by Revolutionary France during the War of the First Coalition. 1,400 troops under the command of Irish American Colonel William Tatelanded at Carregwastad Head near Fishguard in Wales on February 22, 1797. They were met by a group of around 500 British reservists, militia and sailors and quickly surrendered. It was the most recent effort by a foreign force that was able to land on Britain, and thus is often referred to as the "last invasion of Britain".

French forces landing at Carregwastad on the 22nd of February, 1797. From a lithograph first published in May 1797

The USA was the first country to gain independence from the British Empire.

The 36 residents of the remotest part of the British Isles, the archipelago of St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides, were evacuated in 1930 after finding life too isolated. The island is now a nature reserve, home to a colony of gannets.

The St Kilda village street in 1886

The British Isles' shortest place name is I (the Gaelic for Iona).

Only 22 of the world’s 193 countries have never been invaded by the British.

Sources, Daily Mail

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