Multicultural Britain

Britain has always been a multi-cultural society. For thousands of years, different people have chosen Britain as their home. Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans all invaded Britain between 500 BC and 1100 AD. However, since then smaller groups have continued to arrive. In the middle of the nineteenth century hundreds of thousands of people from Ireland immigrated to Britain and thousands of Jewish people from Eastern Europe came here in the first half of the twentieth century. These people were escaping from terrible conditions in their own countries: in Ireland it was famine; in Eastern Europe it was violent anti-Semitism.

Other people came for economic reasons: in the 1950s and 1960s, there weren’t enough workers in Britain, so people from British colonies and former colonies in the Caribbean and Asia came to work there. The most recent arrivals in Britain are refugees who have escaped from war and political persecution in countries like Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia and Iraq.

But life isn’t always easy when they arrive. They have to build a new life in a new country. Many can’t speak English so it can be difficult to find a job or to understand what is happening at school. Sometimes they have to face discrimination because people don´t always understand who they are and why they have come.

Many immigrants have worked hard and started their own businesses. Some of the most successful businessmen in Britain are of Asian origin. Immigrants also have an important cultural influence on life in Britain, especially in the areas of music, fashion and food. For example, West Indians started the famous Notting Hill Carnival in London in 1960 which nowadays is the biggest street festival in Europe.

There are Chinese and Indian restaurants in almost every town in Britain (curry has been the most popular food in Britain for more than ten years). And reggae and rap music from the Caribbean have heavily influenced British pop music. Britain is a richer and more interesting country because of its immigrants.

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