What is the difference between Great Britain, the UK and the British Isles?

By On August 03, 2018

What is the difference between Great Britain, the UK and the British Isles?

When talking about England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, it seems that Great Britain, the British Isles, and the UK are almost interchangeable.

Most people wouldn’t call you out for using any of them, but then you’re not the President of one of the most powerful nations in the world.

Donald Trump recently got himself into quite a tizzy working out, saying at a rally, ‘I have great respect for the U.K. United Kingdom. Great respect. People call it Britain. They call it Great Britain. They used to call it England, different parts.’

Here’s a guide for which one includes which countries, both for Donald and anyone else who might be wondering.

Great Britain

Great Britain includes Scotland, Wales, and England. It also refers to the associated islands of these countries, such as the Isle of Skye.

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The United Kingdom

Within the United Kingdom are all the countries in Great Britain, as well as Northern Ireland.

It’s used to describe the political union of these countries, and is a sovereign state (although the countries within it are still countries in their own right).

From 1801 to 1922 the UK also included all of Ireland, but since they became independent the Republic of Ireland is not included in the United Kingdom definition.

The British Isles

The British Isles is The United Kingdom, as well as the Republic of Ireland.

Around 5,000 associated islands off the coast are also included in this term.

It’s purely a geographical term, and does not reflect any sort of politics.

As mentioned, no-one would probably call you out in regular conversation on any of these, but if you do happen to be a world leader, it’s slightly more important to know which one is which.

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