The Difference Between the UK, Great Britain and England

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England

Starting with the smallest, we come to England. Despite many people thinking it is the entire United Kingdom (We will get to that country later), it is actually a first-level subdivision of the larger country, the other three being Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and only accounts for only 53.77% of the entire UK's land area, even though it is the main cultural, economic and population centre of it. England is located on the island of Great Britain, along with Scotland and Wales. England also shares the same capital city as the UK, London which is quite confusing but you could compare the situation similarly to lle-de-France and the Republic of France, sharing the same capital, Paris. England itself is divided into 48 ceremonial counties which each have their own cultural identity well some of them at least.

Small English village hamlet, Shaftesbury, located in Dorset.

Now we get to the confusing part. Despite not being sovereign countries, the four UK countries are represented individually in sports teams, and not together as one whole United Kingdom please don't ask me why. You can see this in examples like Football, where England, Scotland and Wales are separate teams, and in Cricket, where the team is England and not the whole UK. Some events are different, however. For example, in the Olympics, the United Kingdom is represented as one whole team, Great Britain (GB).

Great Britain

The next "country" we go on to is Great Britain, and I say the word "country" in air quotes because GB is technically not a sovereign country, but a nation. Great Britain is also the name given to the largest island in the British Isle's which is home to three of the UK's countries: England, Scotland and Wales. The other country, Northern Ireland, however, is not located on the island of Great Britain and instead located on the island of Ireland, not to be confused with the Republic of Ireland. Great Britain's capital is London, too, and shares the same with England and the United Kingdom but since the nation is rarely spoken as a country, let alone a sovereign country, it doesn't really matter.

A satellite image of the Island of Great Britain

Despite not being a country today, though, Great Britain was actually a sovereign country between 1707, when the Acts of Union joined England and Scotland together to form the nation, to 1801, when the Kingdom of Ireland joined the union creating the United Kingdom. Great Britain also had a flag at the time of its sovereignty as well, which is nearly identical to the current UK's flag but just with a tiny difference. The primary concept of it is just the flag of England and the flag of Scotland combined. Great Britain's flag was also used as the official flag for the British Empire during the time of its existence even after 1801.

Flag of Great Britain

The United Kingdom

Lastly, we come to the last country out of the three, and I don't say the word country in air quotes this time because the United Kingdom is an actual sovereign country, unlike Great Britain and England. The UK is the largest and most populous of the three with a land area of 248,532 Sq km and a population of 68,249,000. It is made up of four smaller countries, which are England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The country itself is located on two main islands: Great Britain, and Ireland. The UK also has overseas territories, dependencies and regions, which are just remnants of its empire but still technically count as part of the country.

Tower Bridge, located in the UK's capital, London

When it comes to politics, the United Kingdom's government is known as the Houses of Parliament, located in London. The UK also is one of the UN Security Council Members, along with Russia, China, France, and the United States. The country's full name is "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" which stands for the states it is made up of. However, it hasn't always been called this.

Between 1801 and 1922, the UK used to be called "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland", until The Republic of Ireland achieved independence and seceded from the union, leaving just Northern Ireland to remain. Its flag is also very similar to its name, but very meaningful. As previously mentioned, it is nearly identical to Great Britain's flag but with the Kingdom of Ireland's flag merged into it as well, instead of just England and Scotland's. I would love to talk a lot more about the United Kingdom but since the purpose of this blog is just to explain the difference between the three, I will stop here.

Flag of the United Kingdom

Finally, that brings us to the end of this blog and I hope you have learnt something new. Thank You so much for reading and goodbye! :)

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Level 66
Jul 26, 2021
Nice blog, as always! The union flag with the Welsh dragon would look fabulous, eh? Although you have stated not to ask, but I can't resist asking this: why do the "countries" of the UK play sports separately?
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Level 64
Jul 26, 2021
Lol to be honest, I have no idea but I think the most logical reason is because each of the four countries have their own distinct cultural identities so it would be right to separate them into four different teams instead of one whole.
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Level 38
Jul 26, 2021
That’s cool! Always thought England was one of the countries, UK was England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and Great Britain was everything, the two islands, including Ireland. Almost everything correct lol
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Level 64
Jul 26, 2021
Thanks MG! Glad you learnt something new :)
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Level 65
Jul 26, 2021
I already knew this but nice explanations. I agree with your point saying that the sports teams are different because of the cultural identities. Honestly I think it would make sense if Northern Ireland joins Ireland, and Scotland leaves UK so it would just be England and Wales. The Scots want to be independent. But the independence referendum did not pass back in 2014... But in my opinion the UK should stay together
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Level 64
Jul 27, 2021
Thanks and yes, you are right. Although it makes sense for NI to join the ROI and for Scotland to be independent, I would like it if the UK to stay as together, as was united country.
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Level 58
Jul 27, 2021
It’s not that most people think that England is the whole U.K., but they rightfully believe that it is one of the four independent nations in the region (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). Though a controversial subject, each nation has a portion of the monarchy. Of course, this monarchy is primarily in England, so you can believe what you want to.
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Level 75
Jul 27, 2021
And then to confuse things further you have the British Isles. That is the two large islands plus the smaller ones and includes in it's area the Republic of Ireland.
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Level 64
Jul 27, 2021
Lol I should have added that to the blog!
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Level 82
Oct 15, 2021
The term British Isles isn't officially recognised by either the UK or Irish governments.