The economic regions of Great Britain are diverse and vary in the rate of their economic development, regional specialization and natural resources distribution. The major economic regions of Great Britain are the following: the South of England (sometimes subdivided into the South-East and the South-West); the Midlands (the West Midlands and the East Midlands); Lancashire; Yorkshire; the North of England (the North-West and the North-East); Scotland; Wales; Northern Ireland.
The South of England, and particularly the South-East, has always been considered more prosperous and more prospective as contrasted to the North of England and the Celtic-fringe provinces — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The South-East is the largest and more highly developed region with London and the Greater-London area as the major centres.
London is Britain’s capital and main communication centre, one of the world’s most important financial centres (second — only after New York), one of the world’s three largest eitles (with Tokyo and New York), and one of the largest ports (with New York and Rotterdam). London is the main centre in Britain of printing, cinema film production and of manufacture of clothing, food and drink, furniture, materials for the arts, precision instruments and many other specialized products.
London is also important, especially its Outer Ring, for light engineering, chemicals and consumer goods. There are heavy-engineering plants and a number of leading research establishments in this area. Towards the periphery of Greater London and in new urban development outside it the electronics has expanded greatly; some of the largest aircraft plants are in these areas (in the town of Hatfield) and factories manufacturing motor vehicles — lorries — are also situated here (in the town of Luton).
In the estuaries of the Thames and other rivers of the region there are large oil refineries as well as shipyards.
Major motor vehicle manufacturing plants are some 50 miles north-west of London, near Oxford. Oxford and Cambridge are famous university eitles, Oxford being also a car-manufacturing centre, while Cambridge includes industries which have depended to a considerable extent on university connections and orders, as diverse as instrument making, printing, electronics.
Atomic energy research and production centres are Aldermaston (l) and Hartwell.
Portsmouth is a naval port with some shipbuilding and ship-repairing. Southampton is Britain’s largest port for ocean-going liners; its industries include ship-repairing, oil-refining, etc. The fishing ports (e. g. Great Yarmouth) have fish-processing plants and are bases for companies engaged in natural gas exploitation in the North Sea.
The English Channel coast is fringed with holiday resorts (e. g. Brighton) and “dormitories” for people working in (daily commuting to) London.
East Anglia is a major agricultural area. Wheat, barley and sugar beet are grown here. Norwich, with its flour-mills and sugar factories, is the centre of the area and also a producer of agricultural machinery and footwear.