England, Great Britain, United Kingdom: What's the Difference?

Sometimes you find answers in unexpected places. I found the most succinct description I've ever seen of how England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom relate to each other in a library newsletter about travel guidebooks:

  • London is the capital of England.
  • England is a country.
  • Britain is an area that consists of England and the country of Wales.
  • Great Britain is the name of the island that is home to the countries of England, Wales, and Scotland.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) is a country that is a union of the countries on the island of Great Britain, along with the country of Northern Ireland (which shares the island of Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.)
  • [The Republic of Ireland is] a separate country that is not part of the UK.
  • London is also the capital of the UK.

Guidebooks will often include various parts of this geography, with the most common subdivisions being London, England, and Great Britain. Travelers should be aware that while all residents of the UK are British subjects, residents of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland will prefer to be referred to as Welsh, Scottish, and Irish, respectively, rather than British.

Description from Reviews: Library Journal; Travel, the London Olympics and Beyond, February 28, 2012

Written by Janet on July 20, 2012

Comments

Lisa F. on July 23, 2012

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Blimey, that's confusing. I didn't realize Ireland wasn't part of anything.

Anonymous on July 23, 2012

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Oh my, won't the Irish be surprised!

Erin T. on July 23, 2012

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That is a very interesting fact! Thanks for sharing!

Janet on July 23, 2012

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Seems like the Irish are probably proud to be separate.

Anonymous on July 23, 2012

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Thank you!

Anonymous on April 4, 2013

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thank you! :)

Anonymous on October 16, 2013

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After searching for a while about the differences between these countries, this is the best and more detailed answer I've gotten. Excellent!

Marie Fahrenholz on January 13, 2014

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Then there's a mistake on your map! It should be entitled United Kingdom, not Great Britain, as it includes Northern Ireland.

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The map IS entitled UK, it's written on the bottom in the margin. The large text reading "Great Britain" across he center of the island, denotes that the ISLAND is named Great Britain and is not the TITLE of the map.

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