The Difference Between The UK, England, And Great Britain

Today I found out the difference between The United Kingdom, England, and Great Britain.

The actual name of the sovereign state we are talking about is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK). The United Kingdom is made up of the countries England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The confusion of the terms seems to revolve around the term “country” and the political powers that are perceived based on that word. While the four countries that make up the UK are considered separate in the minds of locals, and in certain sporting events, their powers for local law and control are devolved from the UK. Think of the 50 states of the United States, while each state has their own set of laws, they all are still under the power of the federal government. In the case of the UK, it is somewhat similar, though certain responsibilities are also implied, like healthcare and education, that are delegated to three of the four countries. The responsibilities that are delegated differ from one country to the next. England is the only country in which the UK does not devolve any powers and instead it is legislated directly by the UK government. When it comes to international politics, it is the sovereign nation of the UK that is recognized and not any of the four constituent countries.

The term “Great Britain” refers to the land mass that comprises England, Scotland, and Wales. Something that aids in the confusion as to the difference between Great Britain and the UK is that the term is sometimes internationally used as a synonym for the UK.  For instance, the UK’s Olympic team competes under the name “Great Britain” and the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) gives the UK the country codes of GB and GBR. This can be confusing given that the ISO also codes England, Scotland, and Wales as subdivision countries of the UK but Northern Ireland as a subdivision province. If you’re getting the impression that Northern Ireland is the red-headed stepchild of the UK, you may be right! (both figuratively and literally, if you believe the current statistics for redheaded populations that is)

The confusion over the definition of these four countries, in reference to the UK, is further muddied up in sporting competitions. There are several international sporting events, like the commonwealth games, and football competitions, in which each of the four has their own team, and do not compete under a unified national team. When competing under these conditions, their nations are referred to as “home nations”. Because each team is from a specific home country, it can lead some to think these countries have political autonomy as well. Given the inebriated thought processes attained during the enjoyment of these competitions, it’s not too hard to understand where this drunken confusion comes from.

If you’re curious when these unions between the countries that comprise the UK came about, it happened as follows:  England and Wales were joined in 1536.  Scotland and England were joined together in 1707, along with the previously joined Wales, to officially form the Kingdom of Great Britain.  Ireland decided to join up in 1801, at which point the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was formed.  In 1922, however, many of the Southern counties of Ireland decided to remove themselves from the union and the UK changed their name to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

So in summary:

  • Great Britain = England, Scotland, and Wales
  • UK = England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland (and the full name is the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”)
  • England = Just the part of the island that is England

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts:

  • The “Union Jack”, the flag of the UK was initially made by superimposing the Flag of England with the Flag of Scotland in 1606.  When Ireland joined up in 1801, Saint Patrick’s Flag was added to the composition.
  • The first peoples of the UK were the Picts who inhabited Briton around 10,000 BC. Two centuries later, they were driven north to Scotland by the Celts who promptly took over. The Romans then conquered in 45 AD and ruled for several more centuries. From around 600AD to around 900AD several peoples known as Angles, Saxons, and Jutes began to populate and govern the area. They became known as Anglo-Saxons. Then between 900 and 1400 came the conquering Vikings, then Danish, and finally the Normans. After that, in 1485 Henry Tudor claimed the English crown and the rest of British rule is an incestuous line of Kings and Queens of the monarchy leading to that handsome Prince William Mountbatten-Windsor and his lovely wife Kate!
  • The United Kingdom ranks 28th on the Human Development Index. This index is a comparative statistic that measures a countries “human development” based on factors like life expectancy, literacy, education, and standards of living, like income potential. Unfortunately for those Northern Ireland folks, their neighbors to the south who left the UK without them, living in the Republic of Ireland, rank 7th.
  • The top five countries on the Human Development Index are: 1- Norway 2- Australia 3- Netherlands 4- United States and 5- New Zealand. The bottom five countries for human development are: Chad, Mozambique, Burundi, Niger, and The Democratic Republic of Congo. So based on these statistics, you can assume you lost the ovarian lottery if you were born in Africa somewhere!
  • The United Kingdom has 14 overseas territories and 3 crown dependencies that do not make up part of the UK itself. Crown dependencies differ from territories in that they are the possessions of “The Crown”, and as such, sovereignty over them lies with the Queen (or King, as the case may be). The executive responsibilities for them are carried out by Her/His Majesty’s Government. The 14 overseas territories are under the sovereignty of UK itself, and not solely the ruling monarch.
  • As of July 9, 2011, there are 195 independent sovereign states in the world. This includes independent Taiwan. So if you’re Chinese, you might consider that there are only 194, but who’s counting anyway? The last country to gain recognition as an independent state was the Republic of South Sudan in July of 2011.
  • The UK does not have a single judicial system; instead, it has three separate systems. These systems are Northern Ireland law, Scots law, and English law. As you might expect, English law governs Wales as well. There are a few instances where there are laws that have jurisdiction throughout all of the UK, immigration law being one; further, employment law is recognized in the three countries of Great Britain proper. The UK has four separate educational systems, and four separate healthcare systems as a result of both being devolved to each separate country.
  • London is not only the capital of England, but is also the capital of the UK.  The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh.  The capital of Wales is Cardiff.  Finally, the capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast.
  • The national anthem of the UK is “God Save the Queen”, though the lyrics are changed to “God Save the King”  when the ruling monarch is a man.  One can only imagine the confusion and tumult at sporting events directly after the death of the ruling monarch where the gender of the heir is different than that of their predecessor and some people have heard of the death and others haven’t.
Expand for References
Share the Knowledge! FacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmail
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Enjoy this article? Join over 50,000 Subscribers getting our FREE Daily Knowledge and Weekly Wrap newsletters:

Subscribe Me To:  | 


  • Technically (although this is up for debate) it’s the Union Flag, unless it’s flown whilst at sea, in which case it’s the Union Jack:

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Piers: noted for future reference. 🙂

      • Mate, the irish arnt ginger at all….if any think it’s stereo typically viewd as a Scottish hair colour… or even vikings. But their is no paticular evidence red hair originated in one paticular country in Britain…its actually a gene mutation from potentially a homoesapian species of some description

    • It’s the Union Flag, if at sea or on land, Union Jack is a lazy name.

      Wikipedia is written by the general public and sometime full of b.s.

      The Union Flag contains the flags of Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.

      Wales is a principality of England.

      So Great Britain is England and Scotland really, and as we write at the Olympics, Great Britain and N.I. for Northern Ireland.

      United Kingdom is England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

      That’s my belief.

      • Unfortunately, friend, that belief is wrong. Wales hasn’t been a principality since the Laws in Wales Act of 1535. A principality is a region under the rule of a prince. Wales attained this political status 800 years ago when Llywelyn the Great unified many of the Welsh Lords, he was the original bearer of the title ‘Prince of Wales’. The Principality of Wales, then, was realised by a Welshman, and, like Scotland, had its own legal codes. the Laws of Hywel Dda, parts of which subsisted up 1535. Some sixty years later, Wales was conquered by Edward I, and annexed to the English crown. In 1301, the future Edward II was invested as the Prince of Wales. Today, the title may still exist, but clearly, Prince Charles exercises no power whatsoever over the Welsh people. Contrast this with Prince Albert II who wields political power in Monaco, which is thus properly designated a principality.

        Even if Wales were today ruled by Prince Charles , it wouldn’t be a principality of England, it would be a principality of the United Kingdom, given that Charles is the eldest son of the Queen of the United Kingdom, not the Queen of England. Great Britain is Wales, Scotland and England, and what is bemusing is how this antiquated idea of Wales as anything less than a country still persists – you’re by no means the only person to make the mistake.

        • Like how Americans are Americans but ask individually and it’s Mexican, Irish, Puerto Rican Italian. Then there are people so mixed it’s pointless to be specific. Like me, I’m Spanish, Philipino, Dutch and English, not raised with any particular culture in either, born and raised in the USA, just American.

          • Sextus Charybdis

            Negative. It’s how Americans are Virginians and Californians and Floridians. Each state is an ostensibly sovereign political unit with the federal government regulating interstate commerce and unified action. That was the original idea, at least. It might be telling to note that, prior to the US Civil War, most people identified themselves more with their state than with the term “American.” In the southern US states, this is still common. Go try to tell Georgians that they’re basically Floridians and see what happens.

      • Oh I dare you to tell a Welshmen that they’re just a principality of England. Send me the pictures and don’t worry about medical bills, if you do it in the UK the NHS will heal your injuries for free.

  • Factoid: The Spanish for English is Ingles. The Spanish for groin is Ingle. 😉

  • Nobody outside the UK cares.

    • Disagreed. I’m from the US and found this very interesting. It’s something I’ve always wondered myself. Don’t speak for us all.

    • Actually I found this super helpful and I am not from the UK

      Great post thank u!!!

    • I’d say, being from the UK, no-one is bothered.

      • I’m guessing you’re from England.
        I’ve heard this attitude before, being from Australia, & hearing English people refer to Australian history as beginning when Captain Cook sailed over the horizon & saw it.
        Apparently, in their minds, the country, the whole continent, did not exist until it was acknowledged by the English!!!
        I’m looking into the UK/GB status after hearing Boris saying today that he is glad he has won out over Brexit, & wants to bring the whole country (!!!) with him. I can only assume England is the country to which he is referring, Wales, Scotland & Northern Island apparently having the same status in some English minds as pre colonial Australia.

    • I disagree. Ive found it very interesting and since Ive decided to marry an Englishman I truly wish to learn all I can beyond what I know now.

    • This topic can be part of history lessons all around the world. And the “in summary” section is just amazing for people who are confused about the terms, because not all teachers are great at explaining.

  • what year was Canada stopped being a part of the UK -They gave up the union jack and chose the Maple leaf.

    • Canada was never part of the UK. As the article above relates, the UK only includes the countries England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (and previously all of Ireland). This would be like saying Australia, The Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Niue and Tuvalu are part of the UK because they incorporate the Union Flag in their national flags. Canada was, and remains, part of the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British Commonwealth) along with 52 other nations, including the UK, which recognise the current British monarch as the head of the commonwealth.

      • The article is does not cover the full history of the UK. The Commonwealth of Nations consist of former parts (dependencies/colonies) of the British Empire. Some of he Commonwealth states still recognize the British Monarch as their Monarch like Canada.

  • Good article! I am Scottish and so understand the differences very well, and thought you did an excellent job of explaining the confusion. However, I must say, in your summary at the end when you say “England = just part of the island that is England”. I feel this could be explained more clearly as “England is a part of the island Great Britain” Also, as a ‘grammar nazi’ – as we are so called, I must put forward my distress of your use of AD. When using it, it is grammarically correct to place the AD before the date in question, e.g AD900, as oppose to 900AD. Hope I’m not being a pain?

    • Gale E Nikolopoulos

      You, David, have explained it just as well. I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned at my ripe “young” age of 74 from Facebook. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Ireland did not ‘Join’ the UK. We were invaded and ransacked, raped and murdered. We rebelled and after years of bloody war against superior and often brutal forces we made treaty with the UK for our independence. Northern Ireland was kept by the British and We singed it away for the promise of peace.

    • I agree with this statement, maybe for the article leave out what actually happened.. but Ireland was invaded by the then UK mostly due to war between the UK and Spain, the UK didn’t trust that Ireland would hold off Spanish ships and instead allow the Spanish to stay in Ireland and attack.

      So the UK then took over Ireland, did the above, took everything of the land and then paid the Irish Nationals little money to work for them leaving the Irish with very little giving English,Welsh and Scottish landlords lots of money to manage the land in Ireland.

      Later after much fighting the UK and Ireland came to a treaty to give back most of Ireland (Republic of Ireland) but keeping the North. To this day there is still flighting between Catholics (Republicans who want Ireland back as one county) and Protestants (Who want to keep Northern Ireland and are proud of being part of the UK).

      These fights and attacks are recently caused mostly by marches from protestants who like to express their union with the UK and it is part of their culture, which inadvertently but questionably anti-Catholicism and this causes allot of trouble and disruption all year round (As protestants march from May-November weekly/bi-weekly).

      The last attach recorded in NI by republicans was yesterday in Belfast Cathedral Quarter where there is a mixed night-life, shopping and restaurants which is condemned by both sides due to the loss in Trade within Belfast it will cause.

    • Oh boo bloody hoo. You were beaten in war. The Celtic Irish were raiding Great Britain before Queen Elizabeth decided to rule Ireland. Britain has been invaded by several other people groups. No one in Britain is whining about the Normans or the Romans or the Vikings. Get the heck over it already. If it weren’t for the British Empire there would be a drastically smaller Irish diaspora. Britain and Ireland have so much in common there like one nation.

  • I somehow don’t think that anyone in the UK would be oblivious of Queenie dying… god forbid.

  • Good article. You might also want to add a bonus fact about the “British Isles” which is a geographical term rather than political.

    As someone else commented, “England = just part of the island that is England” doesn’t really make sense as the island is never referred to as England, but “the island that is British Isles” does when referring to all including southern Ireland (even though they definitely do not consider themselves British!) or to “the island of Great Britain” which matches the political definition (England + Scotland + Wales but not Northern Ireland).

    • Simple fact “England is not an island”.

      • Correct England is not an Island, but Britian is. Since Scotland, England and Wales are located on the island of Great Britian, they are all British. like the other three countries Northern Ireland is part of the UK. Northern Ireland however is not British as they are not located on the Island of Great Britain.

  • There is a problem relating to nomenclature.

    Many understand the term “United Kingdom” within “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” to refer to a union of “Great Britain” on the one hand, and “Northern Ireland” on the other.

    However the term “United Kingdom” precedes The Acts of Union which united the “Kingdom of Great Britain” and the “Kingdom of Ireland” in 1801. It was first officially used in the 1707 Acts of Union where it means a union of “The Kingdom of Scotland” on the one hand, and “The Kingdom of England” on the other. (The three separate kingdoms had been ruled by one monarch (James VI of Scotland and James I of England and Ireland) since 1603)

    Which of the above the term “United Kingdom” means now is sometimes a matter of debate over a round of beer in the pub of an evening, at least within England.

  • Now I finally understand the differences. I’m not from UK and I found this very interesting.

  • Fun fact: The sovereign state with the longest recognised name and the sovereign state with the shortest recognised name is the same place! The United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland (48 letters) is also recognised as just UK (2 letters).

  • Thanks for this article. It is very helpful to me as an American to clear up some confusion. I think that the context of the article is fine to ignore who ransacked, invaded, raped and pillaged whom over the past thousand or two years – that is for an historical discussion. This was strictly intended to provide clarification of name conventions, not make a political statement.

    • “Who ransacked, invaded, raped and pillaged” Pretty much everyone did that.

      • That’s the truth. Rape, pillage, enslavement, the list goes on and on, and all were common all over the world at one time or another. If more people recognize this and would relegate it to the past where it belongs we could all get along a lot better. This goes for everywhere, not just the UK.

  • I think you mean “derived,” not “devolved.” Devolve is the opposite of evolve, as in, “The conversation devolved into a shouting match.”

    • He is referring to the devolved governments/executives. England does not have a devolved government.

  • So is Southern Ireland independent then?

    • Yes it is.

      Although it is part of Europe so you could argue that isn’t truly independent as Brussels will dictate much of what happens.

    • Yes, but I believe it’s not called Southern Ireland. It’s called the Republic of Ireland, or the Independent Republic of Ireland, or just Ireland. All of Ireland was independent (lot’s of invasions and they really had to fight for it, but independent none-the-less) until around the 1500’s when England took over. Later, as part of a peace treaty, England kept part of Ireland (Northern Ireland), and gave part of Ireland their independence back (the Independent Republic of Ireland). That’s a very simplified summary of course…

  • Emmanuel K. Dangan

    Thanks for clarifying my doubt about the understanding of United Kingdom and its divisions.

  • H.E. Pennypacker

    Good article – funny and informative, yet I still find myself just as confused about it as before. I don’t think that’s indicative of the article but rather the confusing relationship that exists between the “countries” over there. It seems to me they’re not states like our states, yet they’re not actual countries either. They’re somewhere in between apparently.

  • Very good article, I just had the thought about UK being/or not being a country. It is still very confusing the Scottish say their country is Scotland, yet If I try to put England as my country I am informed its the UK.. With some of the comments/way of thinking we cannot change what happened many many years ago, we can only try and change the future for the better. I do not have a chip on my shoulder against those countries who fought against England in World war 1 and 2.

  • I would like to correct a statement made here about devolved powers from Westminster to Scotland. Scottish law, education and churches have always been separate as they never were part of the Union of Parliaments in 1707, so have never been “devolved” as you seem to believe. A very important fact to keep in mind. If you want to “find out”, make sure it is correct!

  • I also found the article interesting, many thanks. But some confusion remains: 1. What is the definition of a country? I mean, nobody refers to Texas or Bavaria as a country, so why are Wales and England countries? 2. I’d be interested in the status of the channel islands, are they a part of England, and if not, what are they?

    • The thirteen colonies that the original United States comprised were just that, colonies. They were part of the British Empire. They weren’t autonomous until they founded a new nation, a new country. I couldn’t tell you the precise definition of a country, but I’m sure these colonies didn’t qualify. (I imagine) when the likes of Texas joined the union, it did so on an equal footing with each individual state, not with the whole agglomeration of them, and was therefore accorded the same political status.

      The United Kingdom, on the other hand, represents the union of distinct political entities, and though the uniting was often done against a background of war, coercion and subjugation, it was nevertheless the process of two autonomous, previously-established countries or nations. Its correlate wouldn’t be the US, but, instead, the EU, which likewise represents the political union of countries, rather than colonies or cantons.

      The Channel Islands are called crown dependencies, which is to say that they are self-governing and not part of the United Kingdom.

    • Bavarians talk about Bavaria as a Country, because it once was. Nobody talks about Texas as a county because it never was. It was part of Mexico and was invaded by ‘Americans’ who declared it a republic whilst it went through the process of annexation by the US.

      • This is not correct, though some revisionists might claim it was in principle. Americans didn’t declare Texas a republic. Texans, who consisted of Hispanics (Tejanos), immigrants from America, Germans, and other ethnic groups fought for independence from Mexico (and people from all these groups died fighting for it) and formed a republic. This republic had strong cultural ties to the US but was not a part if it when it won its independence. It subsequently was decided by the residents of Texas to annex this republic to the US (although not all residents wanted this and there is still a strongly independent faction in Texas to this day that is always pushing some secession movement or other). Texas was once, though briefly, completely independent. Many Texans would like to see it be again some day.

    • Nation and country are general considered synonyms and used as such. But more specifically:
      *country – a land associated with a people or cultural group (Wales, England, Brittany, etc.)
      *nation – country+state
      *state – sovereign areas

      Wales and England are countries because the Welsh and English people are associate with their respective areas, but are not sovereign states. The UK is a multi-country sovereign state.

      Cornwall is another country of the UK. Which the UK has been point out as suppressing that fact by the EU. The Prince of Wales Charles is the sovereign Duke of Cornwall there (as sovereign as any monarch in the UK is now days).

      Texas and Bavaria were sovereign states not countries. Bavaria was a stem duchy of Germany, becoming independent, but the people were and are Germans (for the most part). Texas, as Nathan states, was a sovereign state (as a republic) with no clear one ethnic group (like colonial America) for the area it doesn’t qualify as a country nor a nation.

  • The correct name of the Irish Republic is Erin, or Erie, if you prefer.

  • no that i really care about the UK but i always wondered how the hell they are the UK and sometimes great britt. and as one country they play as different nations in football. but it is now more clear. thank u mate. cheers from Texas, USA

    • Wow. You sound really mature and the way you write and spell remind me exactly of the stereotypes that Texans have told me not to believe. I guess they apply to some people.

  • This articul is still rather confusing, I supposed if states or countries are United, they automatically becomes one, and so should be recognised as a nation. But I still find citizens of this suposed United Countries still introduce/identify them selves as Irish man, Scottish, an Citizen of England, Uk and so on. Why ain’t they being known by one name, since United simply means (one)? It’s all rather a heck of confusion

    • Not a chance. Think of it more as the European Union, which is they way the UK is headed, thank fuck. Millions of people would much prefer to be known by the country they are from rather than British. Plenty Scots, Irish, Welsh and probably a few English (most likely those from the North) despise the Union and would like it to take a long walk of a short pier. Best advice would be (assuming you’re not from these isles) to make 100% sure where someone resides if you suspect they’re from the UK and their feelings on national identity. Absolutely nothing worse than being called ‘English’ if you’re a Scottish Nationalist that had independence ripped from under your feet.

      • Ripped is a bit of a strong word don’t you think? The vote was in favour of maintaining the Union and so it was. Try not to make it sound like England took it away from you. Besides with the rising power of the SNP it’s likely that you’ll get another vote and this time it will probably go the other way.

        • It is indeed. They had a democratic vote where EVERYTHING was loaded in their favor ie the referendum question etc and they lost. Unfortunately, some are still moaning about the result and claiming to have the right to move the goalposts (ie demanding another one even though Alex Salmond agreed with the British government that there wouldn’t be another one for another generation at least ie about three decades.

  • There is also another collective name of ‘Britain’.
    Britain = England and Wales
    Great Britain = England, Wales and Scotland.
    United Kingdom = England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    • Britain and Great Britain are the same thing. They both mean the island which England, Wales and Scotland are found. Saying that “Great Britain” is the term used when you include Scotland with England and Wales just sounds like you’re trying to single out Scotland as special.

      • I think some western universities need to introduce courses in their curriculum about this UK name and its composition, it’s too confusing.

    • No that is wrong. There is no Britain, there is just Great Britain. This signifies the island that contains England, Scotland and Wales.

  • Your statement …

    ” England = just the part of an island that is England . ”

    If the island was in fact England and not Britain where England is in fact a region then ”part” would be redundant as would most of what you’ve stated.

    Thanks for the comedy.
    Suggest you study an atlas.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Henry Black: Nobody said the island was England.

      • Um…..sorry but check the last point in the summary;
        England = Just the part of the island that is England.

        • Daven Hiskey

          @Stantz: Key word being “part”.

        • Daven Hiskey

          @Stantz: Ah, I see the confusion. It could be read two ways- “… the island that is England” (implying that the island is England) or as intended “England = just the part of the island…” (implying that the country of England comprises just a portion of the island in question).

          • I got what you meant pretty clear. The people correcting you are just Nationalists of one of the three countries of Britain looking to be offended.

  • So what is the embassy and who issues passports, britain (ie British embassy) or UK (UK embassy)?

    • Passport are European Union passports issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Outside of the UK they are administered by the UK Embassies and Consulates.

  • Hi I’m Iranian
    I have one question
    Texas is one state of USA
    Quebec is one of the province of Canada
    So what’s about waels or Scotland or northern Ireland?
    Is waels state or province or another name

    • Alot of people in Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland also called Ulster or six counties have different opines so don’t get on with one another. In bygone days England had the strongest army and controlled the rest. The favoured those that showed them loyalty. The rest resented this and there decadence still aren’t loyal.

    • Wales is neither a state, nor a province, it is, as you term it. another name. The area now known as Wales was the last bastion of Celtic Britons after the Romans departed and the Anglo Saxons began to take over. The area had a number of Kingdoms which did not last and never succeeded in combining into a single Welsh kingdom. During the period between the romans departing and the Norman / English kings effectively taking over Wales, the most prominent leader was known as Tywysog Cymru – which translated as ‘Prince of Wales’. To this day the English (British) sovereign’s eldest son is known as the Prince of Wales.
      So, Wales was a principality. Henry V111 of England used the term ‘Dominion’ and annexed it as part of England in the mid 1500’s.

  • Could someone anwser this quick question…on my daughters (Collins) map of the world…it states (well I assume)every country in the world,showing individual maps,capital,currency etc…but misses out Scotland,Wales,England…putting United Kingdom and London as capital..isn’t this slightly disrespectful to
    3 individual countries..well a little to england to england as it’s stating London.
    Is this normal in a world map…to miss the individual countries in favour of putting UK…I feel you should include both

    • The map will show each Nation State in the world. England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland are constituent countries of the Nation State that is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and N. Ireland. Therefore it will show as The UK.

  • Ok, let’s say England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland are countries and Europe is the continent containing these countries so then what is Great Britain and the United Kingdom? In terms of the terminology associated with land masses.

    • Complete confusion appears to be the current state of affairs here. The ‘United Kingdom’ is a political entity and sovereign state, which when at its largest, consisted of the (no-longer independent) countries of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Everything done by the UK government is done for the benefit of England (English M.P.’s in parliament considerably outnumber the Scots, Welsh and Irish M.P.’s put together – hence the various independence movements) The southern part of Ireland won independence as described but the UK retained the northern province of Ulster (because, despite what they say, it was, economically, the rich part) and thus they laid the seeds for the troubles (the UK has done this type of thing in many of its former colonies around the world – setting up unnatural borders in former colonies, possibly deliberately but more probably ignorantly and unthinkingly, splitting ethnic groups, etc. – these acts are now causing unrest in many parts of the world). ‘Great Britain’ on the other hand is a geographical term, like the Great Lakes, the Great Barrier Reef, etc. It is simply the geographical name of the largest island (the mainland) in the group of islands known as the British Isles (although the UK Government tried, it would appear successfully, to muddy the waters by suggesting that the word ‘great’ in the name Great Britain, referred to the other meaning of this word. The ‘British Isles’ is the collective geographical name of all the islands in the group which includes the island of Ireland.

  • The reason that Great Britain, which was the term formally adopted by Charles 1st, has maintained its independent country identities, is that it has never been overrun and absorbed by another invading country, unlike many of the old European countries. Even Wales, which came closest to absorption by England, was still recognised as a different ‘nation’ even although it was politically absorbed by England. Scotland and England were in a fairly constant state of war but generally it as not Scotland v England, it was protestant v catholic. In the end, James V1 of Scotland was invited to take the throne of England, thereby combining the two countries under one ruler – not by conquest, but by recognition of the close ancestral relationships. It was a hundred years before the two countries decided to combine their parliaments. However, both countries maintained their own representation in the parliament, thereby continuing to maintain their own identities. The combined parliament recognised Scottish Law and English Law and the two countries to this day maintain different legal systems. So, as Great Britain continues to be an internationally recognised political entity (as is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) the individual countries have always jointly recognised their independent status as countries.

  • “Think of the 50 states of the United States, while each state has their own set of laws, they all are still under the power of the federal government. ”

    That is not a correct summary. The United States was set up as 13 sovereign nation states that formed a union to mainly deal with foreign affairs and security. This new federal government was granted only 18 defined powers, everything else is under the power of the states. Every state that joined the union after the ratification of the constitution are on equal footing with the 13 original states, ie sovereign nation states. Though, because of constitutionally ignorant Governors and state legislatures, the states have surrendered much of their power, theyare by no means “under the power of the federal government.

    No offense, but I really hope the author of this isn’t American.

  • Alistair Borthwick

    Since this article is ranks so highly in Internet search engines, the author really ought to change the third sentence from “The United Kingdom is made up of the countries England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland” to “The United Kingdom is made up of the nations England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland”. The author has correctly stated, in the second sentence, that the sovereign country is the U.K. A nation is a group of people who share the same culture but do not have sovereignty.

    • I agree. I blame a lot of the confusion within the United Kingdom on our separate football teams and the way they are described by football commentators. They use the phrase such and such a footballer is being called-up to play for “his country” and you also hear the expression ‘club or country’ being bandied about by both them and the fans. The correct word that should be used is NATION.

  • England = Just the part of the island that is England

    There is no such island. England is not a country. If you aren’t an independent country then you aren’t a country you are a nation / state.



    • “England is the part of the island that is not Scotland, Wales or anywhere else save ‘England’.”

      “England is the part of the island that is considered “English” by the people who live there and not “Scottish”, “Welsh” or any other demonym.”

      “England is the part of the island that is *England* and not some other part.”

      Yes, they are tautologies, mostly but there really is no good definition of “England” other than “the bit that isn’t ‘not-England’ but is still in Britain”. There hasn’t been one since Scotland conquered England, absorbed its monarchy and Parliament and essentially merged it into “Greater Scotland” a few centuries back.

      “England” is a conquered possession of Scotland that has become part of UKland. This is sort of the English equivalent of Wales’s relationship to what was England at the time only with the littler one eating the bigger one in England and Scotland’s case.

      As a jesting aside, the relationship between what was England and what used to be Scotland actually renders the S.N.P. both moot and silly. “Scotland” *is* independent. It just changed its official name to “The United Kingdom”. What the S.N.P. seems to be agitating for is the independence of *England*!

      Someone should tell them.

  • Seems as though as soon as the word United is used or added to a group of countries or organisations it is anything but that.
    Simply a word designed to suggest a togetherness that in realty rarely exists.

  • There is a lot of differences in use of language within this article.
    Looking at it there is the term country, this can be considered as a sovereign nation state or simply a region that has a distinct national identity. Moving on there is Great Britain, this can be considered on a Geographical basis, the main island of the british isles (the islands off the north west coast of Europe). In terms of the history of the UK (the present sovereign nation state) Great Britain was used to define the joining of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1603 (Wales was previously subsumed into England in 1536 as a full and equal part of England). As a result we had the term for the two independent kingdoms ruled by the same king as the Kingdom of Great Britain. But when the parliamentary Union of 1707 occurred this became the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Followed in 1800 with Ireland as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and then finally as United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The term united was never about the people and most certainly is not today.

    • It used to be before the scumbags of the SNP who aren’t genuine nationalists as their pro-EU policy and especially their very soft pro-mass immigration policies indicate started to whinge and moan continually.

      • Yes, the SNP aren’t nationalists such as the BritNats, The SNP are Civic Nationalists which believe in a non-xenophobic form of nationalism compatible with values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights, unlike the right wing nationalism of the Tory party and UKIP.

  • This website is literally just things I googled online and compressed from wikipedia

  • In 1801 the Irish decided to join up? that’s a fucking hysterical way of putting it, did they also decide to have their religion language and culture outlawed upon penalty of death? did they decide to have their lands and properties confiscated, to have it be against the law to educate their children? Murder, Rape, enslavement, deportation, Mass genocidal starvation? I guess just like when the Scots and the Welsh decided to “join up”. let’s see who else decided to” join up” India, Africa, the Middle East,China, the Aborigines the afrikaners

    • The author may have skimmed over a few minor details surrounding the nature of good ol’ English imperialism and the ‘union’.

  • As an Englishman I knew all this of course, but thanks for explainingit so clearly for eeveryone else.

    One thing you dod not make clear that is obvious to us Brits ist that we English are very careless about distinguishing between English and British, but the Welsh and very definitley the Scots, are not so careless. There is an old joke, that if say a Scottish football team like Glasgow Celtic won somethinng like teh European Cup, then it would be reported in the (English) newspapers as “British team wins….”. But it they lost then ot wuld be reproted as “Scottish team fails”.

    And how about this Pub quiz question – “Who was the last Englishman to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon?”. Lots of English people would say “Andy Murray of course”. Wrong!!!. It was Fred Perry in the 1930s. Andy Murray is SCOTTISH!.

    Hope that is clear. And be very careful about calling an Irishman British – unless he is a unionist from Northern Ireland.

  • Gale E Nikolopoulos

    Scott – WOW! At my age, 74, I have finally learned something I’ve always wondered about England, UK, and Great Britain. Of course, I could have easily looked at a map; gone into an encyclopedia. But, you have given such a detailed explanation – almost as if you were reading my mind. Thank you so much!

  • Would like to revise the terminology for clarity – where you say England = “Just the part of the island that is England”, it’s effectively saying that England is part of itself. I’m sure you meant that England is part of the island that is Great Britain.
    Factually, it would be easier to say that England is one of the (3) Countries that comprise Great Britain.

    One thing that irritates most Brits is the filling out of any online form/descriptor/notifier (mostly of US origin) where you are asked for your country. Typically the listing gives the UK as a Country. It is not, and not only the English, but definitely the Scottish and Welsh would much rather have their own country stated, rather than a union due to a land mass.

    England: Patron Saint – St. George National Flower: Rose
    Scotland: Patron Saint – St. Andrew National Flower: Thistle
    Wales: Patron Saint – St. David National Flower: Daffodil
    Ireland: Patron Saint – St. Patrick National Flower: Shamrock ( A 3 leaved clover)

  • england is a island on uk

  • Henry Tudor had nothing to do with the Union of the Crowns. It was the Scottish King James the VI who became the first king of Britain. The Scots lords were then bribed in 1707 to unify their parliament with England’s creating the UK parliament. The UK is not united at all. I’m Scottish and I can’t wait for the day when my country leaves this “union” Nothing against England, Wales or Northern Ireland. But we vote against things like Brexit and the Tories and get landed with it anyway due to English votes.

  • What an interesting and amusing article and comments! There’s even more confusion when asked to state nationality on an official document:
    English, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish?
    UK – no adjective form so not grammatically appropriate.

    These days drop down menus influence the answer required. But they also differ in content and style. Scrolling up and down all the countries of the world from B to U and back to find the one best fit (British, English, Great Britain, United Kingdom, UK), can be so infuriating while the rest of the world finds this quirky curiousness fascinating.

    • Yes indeed. The English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish are in fact a rum bunch with a lot of history between them – not all good. Hundred if not thousands of years of infighting has left its mark.

    • “… UK – no adjective form so not grammatically appropriate.”

      UKland, UKlander and UKlandish perhaps?

      To be slightly more politically correct and non-gendered I suppose one could call it “The United Monarchy”, “U.M.” and so UMland, UMlander and UMlandish.

      “The United Monarchy Of Greater Scotland And A Bit Of Northern Ireland”. “UMOGSAABONI”.

      Yes, it can get sillier. 🙂

  • William-Stephen Taylor

    Spain is an Arab country, populated mostly by Arab descendants of the Moguls.
    The survivors of the Spanish fleet (The Armada) made their way to Southern and Western Ireland where they (being Roman Catholic) were given shelter by the local residents and their black hair, ‘olive’ complexion can be seen amongst the Irish population today.

  • Why you would choose to say those born in Africa lost the ovarian lottery is beyond me. It’s a racist statement and if you think otherwise, you need a sound education.

    • Daven Hiskey

      Nothing inherently wrong with being born in parts of Africa, but try going and living in a place like Guinea Bissau (where my parents lived and did humanitarian work for a few decades) and you go ahead and tell me the kids there wouldn’t have been better off being born elsewhere. 🙂 The people aren’t the problem (most of them), nor really is inherently the place- it’s a super natural resource rich country going untapped. The problem is every other week a new warlord takes over and corruption runs rampant even when officials are “elected”. Should the elected leader actually really be elected and not because of a rigged election and then they don’t do whatever XYZ warlord of the hour says, they are promptly killed. Extreme poverty is widespread, human rights violations all over, lack of proper medical care or food, or even basic sanitation and education. Most of the people are quite nice. But the ones at the top ruin it for everyone. So I think it’s you that needs a better education is the point. 😉 There are places in the world that are nicer than other places in the world, sometimes to the extreme. That statement has nothing to do with race, nor even talking about people at all. -Daven