In the first part here, we talked about guns (almost 400 million of them in a country with 330 million people), the language we share and the music and TV culture that crosses over the Atlantic. Today we’ll look at the origins of the people and most importantly, the never-ending debate that is tea VS coffee!
At RKA Valencia we love to use modern culture and real life to help us teach English. Check out more about our classes here, or find out more about the team here. You can find the first part of this blog here too.
Difference No.1 – Origins of the people
Both the UK and the USA have an amazing history when it comes to where the people come from. In the UK, there are more than 8 million of the 67 million inhabitants are part of an ethnic minority. That’s almost 12% of the population, which means that there’s an incredible amount of different cultures, languages and lifestyles that you can find.
In the UK this is mainly due to 2 things. The first is that more than 1.5 million Indian and Pakistani people now live in the UK, mostly due to being the former colonies of the British Empire, and being given more or less free access to enter Britain hundreds of years ago. The British Asian section of society is fully integrated in many places, and form a vital part of the British culture and identity.
The second reason is that in Europe, the economy of the UK has been more stable than many other nations, so almost 2.5 million Polish, Romanian, South African, Italian, Spanish and Chinese citizens also call Britain home. There’s plenty of work for those who want it, and the UK economy continues to pull Europeans towards the British Isles.
In the USA, the story is quite different, as almost 115 million of the 330 million people who live in the USA report some type of European ancestry. There has been a huge influence on the country by German, Italian and Scandinavian Americans. There’s also many Chinese, Japanese and Korean Americans too, all influencing modern popular culture!
The USA also has the unfortunate connection with the slave trade. In 1860, there were estimated to be as many as 4 million slaves in the USA, mostly from African and Caribbean descent, in a total population of 31 million. This horrific part of history was officially ended in 1865, and although it wasn’t the end, it was the beginning of the end of slavery. Nowadays, African Americans make up almost 14% of the US population - around 47 million people.
There are also a huge number of Hispanic and Latino people in the USA, making up almost 16% of the population.
Difference No.2 – Tea and Coffee
With 24,000 coffee shops in the USA, and around 400 million cups of coffee drunk every day, the USA loves coffee! In the UK, there are around 100 million cups of tea drunk every day. Considering that the UK population is around 6 times smaller, we seem to drink a lot of tea in general!
When the USA began to separate from England, and actively fight against the English, tea went out of fashion, and coffee became the most popular drink. The Pioneer Steam Coffee and Spice Mills was the first official coffee producer, founded in 1850! It’s still around today, known as Folgers Coffee.
Like many things in the UK, there’s a colonial link to tea as well. British colonial powers found tea being drunk in India in the early 17th Century, and brought it back to England. The first tea shop was opened in 1717 by Thomas Twining (and the Twining tea company is still around, and one of the largest tea producers in the world today).
Most of the British tea comers from India, but we also take about 16% of our tea leaves from another former colony as well, China.
To find out more about British culture, check out our blog on the Norman Conquest in 1066, and you’ll see why the English language is such a mix!