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What is the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England?

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Map of Great Britain

Wha's the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England? Don't worry if you don't know, lots of people get confused by the three names. Here we take a look at the differences between them.

The United Kingdom

UK Map

The United Kingdom is in itself a country that is made up of England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland. It's official name is "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". It has one government based in London and has one currency: the pound stirling (£). The UK is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. The capital city of the UK is London.

Great Britain


British Flag

Great Britain is an island which is made up of three counties: England, Scotland and Wales. Great Britain is the political term describing the political union of the kingdoms of England, Wales and Scotland made on 1 May, 1707. Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain.


English Flag

England is one of the four countries that make up the UK and one of the three that makes up Great Britain. England is the largest country in the UK with a population of 51 million. London is the capital of England.


Scottish Flag

Scotland is in Great Britain. It shares a border with England, but it is not in England. The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh. Scotland has a population of over 5 million. It was an independent country until it joined with England and Wales to form the UK in 1707. Although English is the language of Scotland there is also another official language called Scottish Gaelic which is much older than English. It was the original language of the area before English. Today only 58,000 people speak it. Although politically, Scotland is part of the UK it does have some independent political power.


Welsh Flag

Wales is in the west of Great Britain and is part of the UK. It has a population of 3 million. The capital city of Wales is Cardiff (It's where I come from! - Chris). People in Wales speak English and many people also speak Welsh which is very different and older than English. Street signs in Wales are written in both languages. Wales has been politically linked with England since 1542. Wales was an independent country until it was defeated by the English army. Wales has some independence in making it's own laws, but it is still very much part of the UK political system.

Northern Ireland

Northern Irish Flag

Northern Ireland is part of the UK, but it is not in Great Britain. Northern Ireland can be found in Ireland (which is the island to the west of Great Britain). The capital of NI is Belfast and it has a population of under 2 million. It became a part of the UK in 1921. Ireland is divided in two parts; NI is part of the UK while the Republic of Ireland, in the south, is an independent country with its own laws, government and currency (€). Although English is the most common language, there are also Irish speakers in NI.

Do you understand? Try the questions below!

Link: British English Slang

  • The UK is an island.

  • 4 countries make up the UK.

  • 3 countries make up Great Britain.

  • Northern Ireland is in Great Britain.

  • Scotland is in England.

  • The capital of Wales is London.

  • The Republic of Ireland is NOT part of the UK.