Thursday, February 07, 2008

England versus Great Britain versus United Kingdom


In everyday American English Great Britain and United Kingdom are used interchangeably. England too can be used to signify the whole country. There are however key differences between the three.

England, Scotland, and Wales are three constituent countries united under one state, the United Kingdom, on the island of Great Britain. The United Kingdom is the three countries of Great Britain plus the country of Northern Ireland.

The British Isles are Great Britain, the island of Ireland, and a bunch of other small ones like the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man's Lord is the monarch of the United Kingdom but the island is not part of the United Kingdom nor is it a part of the European Union. The same holds true for the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey (but these islands are not part of the British Isles).

Finally there is the Commonwealth of Nations which is a voluntary association of former British (ugh, I do not know the correct word to use) colonies plus Mozambique (which wanted to be politically closer to its neighbors). Each member has the UK Monarch (sans Mozambique) as their own king or queen but remains politically independent.

And you thought the Dutch were confusing.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where does the Isle of Man mix into this?

Catholicgauze said...

The Isle of Man is part of the British Isles and has the Queen of England as Lord but still is not part of the UK.

Tom said...

And don't just England and Wales comprise Britain?

Catholicgauze said...

Negative Tom. "Britain" is just the shorten form of Great Britain which includes England, Wales, and Scotland.

Maxwell said...

Correct me if I am out of line here, but Britain is the name of the Island.

Bill Healy said...

Northern Ireland is what?
I have always understood it to be a home nation of the UK.

Chris said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Isles_%28terminology%29

I think that that site should clear up most people's confusion (hopefully it's accurate).

Chadders said...

The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are part of the British Isles, but not part of the UK or ROI. They are separate jurisdictions with the Queen as head of state, and are also not part of the EU.

Also, Commonwealth members do not necessarily have the Queen as head of state. Many do (the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand) but others are republic goverments (India, Jamaica) or have their own constitutional monarch (Tonga) or absolute monarch (Swaziland).

In addition, there is a minor issue in the Republic at the term "British Isles" as it is sometimes seen to be politically biased. Other terms have been suggested, look up British Isles in wikipedia for the full story. Personally, I think naming the islands after the Pretanii is the best thing, seeing as they were here before Celts or Saxons.

stevendadams said...

Bill, I understand your confusion, it gets me sometimes and I'm from Northern Ireland! We are both a country in our own right, as well as being a constituent state on the United Kingdom, exactly the same as both Scotland and Wales, which are simultaneously countries in their own right as well as parts of the UK! International sports makes things particularly confusing, as in the Olympics, the UK team is known as Team GB (Great Britain) yet people from Northern Ireland also take part, so a more accurate name would be Team UK, but I don't know of any plans to change it! Hope that clears things up slightly!