Difference between UK, Britain, England, British Isles etc.

United Kingdom, officially known as “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK)” is a European country founded in 1922. It is the fifth strongest country in the world (in terms of military) as per 2023 Military Strength Ranking of Global Firepower Index and sixth largest economy by gross domestic product (GDP) as per the World Bank Reports 2023.

Many of us would be confused between “United Kingdom”, “British Empire”, “The Great Britain”, “British Isles” and “England” using these names interchangeably. But, every name has different meanings. Here is the explanation in a simple form:

1. England

England is one of the country (like a state or province) of United Kingdom. London is located in England which is the capital of UK. It is the largest country of UK.

2. Great Britain

Great Britain includes only the countries, Scotland, England and Wales.

3. United Kingdom (UK)

United Kingdom’s full name is ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK)’. It includes, three countries and one province. The countries are Scotland, England and Wales and the province is Northern Ireland.

Learn about the UK’s politics: Explaining United Kingdom – The Profound Report

4. British Isles

British Isles is not a political division but a geographical and historical one. That means it is not associated with any nationality or politics but geography and history. It includes United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland (a sovereign country/state), Isle of Man (a British dependency) and Channel Islands (a group of British dependencies islands).

5. British Overseas Territories (BOTs)

British Overseas Territories (BOTs) is a collection of about fourteen territories beyond the British Isles that are under British rule. The fourteen territories include: Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Pitcairn Islands; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Akrotiri and Dhekelia and Turks and Caicos Islands.

6. Crown Dependencies

Crown Dependencies are self-governing territories and are not governed by British Government but they are under British Monarch possession. The citizens of such crown dependencies are automatically British citizens. There are three of such, namely, Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

7. British Empire

British Empire at its peak

British Empire doesn’t exactly exist anymore. Many historians mark the date of July 1, 1997 as the end of the empire because on this date the last British colony, ‘British Hong Kong’ which handed over to China making it ‘Hong Kong’. It was at its peak in 1919 when it included, today’s Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand and so on. Though, many would argue that it still exist because of British possessions.


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