Difference Between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England

The Terms United Kingdom, Britain and England are used interchangeably to describe the polity, geography and history of the British Isles.

At a glance, they may look the same but all three terms have fundamental differences among themselves.

The United Kingdom is used to describe the political unit consisting of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Great Britain is the geographical term referring to the island simply known as Britain.

England is one of the countries that make up the British Isles.

This article will further explain the differences between the three within the context of the Civil Services Examination

Difference Between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England

Differences Between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England

United Kingdom Great Britain England
The United Kingdom is a polity that encompasses the entire region of the British Isles with the exception of the Republic of Ireland The term ‘Great Britain’ is often used to include England, Scotland Wales and its adjoining islands England is one of the countries that is located in the southernmost part of the British Isle
The term “United Kingdom” has occasionally been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain from the 17th century onwards The term ‘Britain’ is derived from the Roman word ‘Britannia’. The word was extensively used by writers of classical antiquity to describe the British Isles following its conquest by the Roman Empire in 87 AD England is derived from the Old English name ‘ Englaland’ which means land of the Angles. The Angles were a Germanic tribe who settled in large numbers following the withdrawal of Roman forces in 410 AD
The United Kingdom as a whole is the member of the Commonwealth of Nations, NATO and the United Nations amongst many other international bodies The term ‘Great’ was added into Britain during the rule of King James I in 1603 as a way to assert his rule over both the Kingdom of Wales and Scotland England is the largest country in the British Isles in terms of population and landmass. Its capital London is also the capital of the United Kingdom as a whole
Before the independence of Ireland on 29 December 1937, the term ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was used. Upon its independence, the new term is ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Politically, Great Britain and Northern Island together constitute the United Kingdom Just like Wales and Scotland, England is referred to as a country but is not a sovereign state. Although all the countries of the British Isles have their own parliament, certain matters are still referred to the Parliament of the United Kingdom

Finally, for the sake of clarity, the three terms can be summarised as follows:

The United Kingdom: A sovereign state that includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Great Britain: An island situated off the North-West Coast of Europe

England: A country within the United Kingdom

Difference Between United Kingdom, Great Britain and England UPSC Exam Notes – Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Great Britain, England and United Kingdom

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

Great Britain, therefore, is a geographic term referring to the island also known simply as Britain. United Kingdom, on the other hand, is purely a political term: it’s the independent country that encompasses all of Great Britain and the region now called Northern Ireland.

Why are there two flags for England?

The Saint George’s Cross. In the Union Flag this represents the entire Kingdom of England, including Wales. The Second Union Flag, 1801, incorporating Cross of Saint Patrick, following Union of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland.

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