England - Since the end of World War II, there has been large-scale immigration, with people arriving from the UK's former territories in the West Indies, Africa, India, Pakistan, and other parts of Asia. These people now account for nearly 3 per cent of the population. England has been fairly successful in assimilating its ethnic communities, but racial tensions remain a problem in some areas, particularly in inner-city districts with a relatively high proportion of immigrants.
England - LANGUAGE
English is the official language of the UK. There are considerable variations in regional accents throughout England. The influx of immigrants has also meant that many other languages are spoken among these communities.
In 1533, during the reign of Henry VIII, England broke from the Roman Catholic Church to form the Anglican Church, which became the established church of the country, of which the monarch is head. The Church of England no longer has any political power, although its archbishops and some bishops still sit in the House of Lords.
There are about 27 million Anglicans in the UK, although relatively few attend church. Roman Catholics number more than 5 million, Presbyterians about 2 million, Methodists about 700,000, and Jews about 400,000. Numerous other religions are practised in England, and in many cities there are significant Muslim and Hindu communities. Society is secular, and religious education in schools now embraces a wide range of religions, not only Christianity.
GREETINGS AND GESTURES
Many English people will simply say “Hello”, but a handshake is the formal way of greeting and parting. On first meeting, “How do you do?” or a less formal phrase is used. Among friends, women are often kissed (by men and women) lightly on one cheek. Handshakes are firm. The use of first names is widespread. Titles such as “Mr” and “Mrs” are being used less frequently, even when children address adults.
The English are in general a reserved people, who do not approve of loud or highly demonstrative behaviour (except in very informal gatherings). Personal space is respected, and people feel uncomfortable when others stand too close to them during conversation. Touching is generally avoided. Manners are important, although standards are not as high among young people, who account for nearly one-fifth of the population.
English families are small (one or two children are the norm) and often tightly knit. Fewer people are getting married and those who do are marrying later. Women are having fewer children and are waiting longer to have them. In the past three decades, a substantial number of women have begun working outside the home. In recent years, the divorce rate has risen, as has the number of single-parent families.
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