i always get confused even though ive already learnt about it in geography!!!! so what exactly is the difference bewteen britain, great britain and the united kingdom (UK)??

10 Responses to “whats the difference between britain and the uk?”

  • caotr:

    To me, its England. Only a good history book, or an historian can explain any of this.

  • simon172474:

    I think that (ahem) Great Britain is England, Scotland, Wales. While the UK includes northern Ireland. I think. I’m ashamed to say I’m not sure.

  • jonal:

    Britain is a blanket term which can be taken to mean the British Isles, Great Britain, or more rarely and sometimes unintentionally, the UK.
    It has no clearly defined definition which suits all circumstances but it’s meaning is often understood by context. Its meaning has changed through the years from it’s use by the Romans to mean roughly the southern half of what is now called Great Britain,then the area south of Hadrian’s Wall, to mean the whole of the British Isles or more specific parts of it like the whole of Great Britain, Great Britain and Ireland, etc.
    The early use of the term ‘Great Britain’ was to distinguish ‘British Britain’ from the area which is now called Brittany, in the north-west of France.

    Great Britain is the island which contains England, Scotland , and Wales.
    Ireland is an island which contains the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
    The United Kingdom (UK) is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    The British Isles is a geographical grouping of islands bounded by the Atlantic Ocean,the North Sea,and the English Channel.
    The British Isles contain
    Great Britain.
    The Isle of Man between Great Britain and Ireland, and the Channel Islands off the northern coast of France, both of which have their own government and Parliament independant of the UK.
    The Scilly Isles, which have their own Island Council but are administered in the European Parliament as part of Cornwall.
    The Isle of Wight, a part of Hampshire.
    The Hebrides,thousands of islands forming part of Scotland.
    The Shetland Islands, a Constituency of the Scottish Parliament.
    The Orkney Islands, a Council Area of Scotland.
    Anglesey, a part of Wales
    Lundy Island, part of England
    A lot of Aran Islands, Arran Islands and Arann Islands variously forming parts of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland

    Thousands more islands associated with England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the Isle of Man (eg the Calf of Man, a small island south of the main Island)
    The term British Isles is more correctly a geographical rather than a political term, but can be used either way.

    The most remote place in Britain is Bishop Rock, an island four miles west of the Scilly Isles, and is the world’s smallest island with a building on it.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/england/sevenwonders/southwest/bishop_rock_mm/index.shtml .
    The best school website for geography,maths,culture, almost anything for schoolwork, is run by Woodlands Junior School at Tonbridge in Kent. It has hundreds of pages and a regular blog, and is a mine of information set out in an attractive manner.

    Click on British Life and Culture in the yellow box on here, then on ‘UK’, ‘Great Britain’ etc.
    …..http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk . .

  • Paco:

    Britain and Great Britain are used almost interchangeably now. At one point the peninsula in France that we call Brittany was known as “lesser Britain”, and the island containing Scotland Wales and England was known as “Great Britain”. The word “Great” is used in an older sense of meaning “large”, and predates the British Empire by several centuries.
    Historically the United Kingdom (UK) of Great Britain and Ireland was formed in 1801. Since 1927 when the Republic of Ireland was formed, it is now offically the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    It is considered acceptable to use the word “British” as an adjective, as in the “British queen”, however in the more formal sense she is the Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms.
    It is considered offensive to say the “English Queen” or even worse “The Queen of England”. The unification of the Scottish and the English crowns occured shortly after the Salem Witch Trials in the United States, so the British understandably think that Americans would get the title correct by now.

  • Mallory:

    A piddley bit of water called the irish sea though in fact it’s not theirs it’s ours.

  • sarch_uk:

    The difference is that Britain is merely a shortened title for Great Britain. Great Britain is the island which contains the countries of England, Wales and Scotland. The United Kingdom (UK) is a political union of the countries of Great Britain and the country of Northern Ireland, and it ‘s full name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Just to add that the area that people tend to call southern Ireland (but is in fact the Republic of Ireland) has not been a part of the UK since the early 1920’s.

  • Katie F:

    Britain = Scotland, Wales and England.

    The UK is Britain + Northern Ireland.

  • RoBo:

    ok here.

    – 1284, Wales was annexed by England therefore, becoming part of england.

    – 1603, the king of Scotland (king James) becomes the king of England, uniting the crowns of the countries (although the governments were still seperate).

    – 1707, Scotland and England join together to form Great Britain (which also include Wales, which is a country of its own now and not just part of england).

    – 1801, Ireland joins Great Britain and the name becomes “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (Ireland was “took over”, it never joined as such).

    – 1922, The southern part of Ireland becomes a Republic, independant from the UK but a small part of Ireland (the northern part) stay under the UK. the name is now “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    all the countrries that make up the UK are countries and not states like you have in the US. the United kingdom is just the name given to the union of these countries and it is not a country. we all have a very different history, culture etc and fought with each other before we united. these countries have history dating back 2000 years and britain is only 300 years out of this history, so some do not like being just called British because it lumps them all together and takes away their national identity.

    have a look at the flag of Great Britian and you will notice that it is the flag of Scotland, England and Ireland (although the Republic of Ireland doesnt use this flag now) put together. this website might help explain it.


    hope this helped.

  • Legendgwc:


    Great Britain- England + Scotland + Wales

    In 1281, England took over Wales making it part of England.

    In 1603, King James VI of Scotland became King of Scotland and England thus uniting the crowns.

    In 1707, the governments of Scotland and England joined together to make Great Britain.

    Circa 1920, despite no battles or declaration of independance Wales gradually became accepted as a country within the union although they are not represented on the Union Jack (British Flag).

    The UK is Great Britain + Northern Ireland + some surrounding islands.

    I hope this helps. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Many people here don’t know the difference. If you say “the UK” or “Britain”(Shortened term for Great(large)Britain)) no one will be upset. It’s only when people refer to the whole UK as “England” that people get offended.

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