Expert Info

Posted by
on 1 Oct 2019

Hi. I am considering moving to Europe. I have been researching different destinations and found something that is a bit confusing. Hoping someone here can help me: What's the difference between England, Britain and the United Kingdom? Are they all the same? 


Anonymous (not verified) on 1 Oct 2019 - 11:23

Hi Smith

This is a question that even many Brits can't answer! I had to look some of it up myself....

England, Great Britain and The United Kingdom all tend to be used interchangeably. In fact they are very different. 

The United Kingdom refers to the state that incorporates England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as some semiautonomous islands like the Isle of Man. None of these four countries is a sovereign state in its own right; only the UK as a whole is a sovereign state.

Great Britain refers to the three countries on the mainland (England, Scotland and Wales).

The British Isles refers to the three countries on the mainland, along with the islands around the coast.

England simply refers to the country of England, which like Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is part of the United Kingdom. 

Scotland has formally been in a union with England and Wales for more than 300 years, although they have been ruled together for much longer - for more than 400 years. James VI, king of Scotland, inherited the throne of England in 1603, and the Stuart kings and queens ruled both independent kingdoms until the Acts of Union in 1707 merged the two kingdoms into a new state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Wales was formally incorporated into the Kingdom of England in the 16th century and became part of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 and then the United Kingdom in 1801. 

In 1801 Great Britain and Ireland joined to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Republic if Ireland (southern Ireland) seceded from the UK in 1922, but Northern Ireland remained part of the UK, which is officially called the United King some of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Unionist prefer to call Northern Ireland Ulster, as it suggests a greater level of distinctiveness from the Republic of Ireland than Northern Ireland does.

The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are British Crown dependencies, but are not part of the United Kingdom.

Then there are the British Overseas Territories, which include Anguilla, Bermuda, Gibraltar, Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands. 

Of course with Brexit and all the referendums going on, all this could change!

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