Great Britain vs United Kingdom vs England

I actually often get asked this, “Dude what’s the difference between Britain and UK, are they the same?”

Actually they aren’t there is a slight difference. There’s a reason why it’s called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Great Britain

Great Britain = England, Wales, Scotland + outlying islands (Wiki)

United Kingdom = Great Britain + Northern Ireland. (Wiki)

British Islands = United Kingdom + Crown Dependences (e.g Channel Islands). (Wiki)

British Isles = Great Britain, Ireland and a number of smaller islands (Wiki)

England is just that, England without Scotland, Wales or Northern Island.

For those that don’t know the history of Ireland it’s somewhat segregated into Northern Ireland (part of UK – capital Belfast) and Republic of Ireland (independent country – capital Dublin).


Read more on Wiki about Ireland.

Everyone also assumes I’m from London (no that’s NOT the only place in England..) and every football fan asks “Dude is Manchester near London?”..

No it’s not, see map above..there’s 3 main areas South (London etc), Midlands (Birmingham) and North (Manchester/Liverpool). There are other divisions too (East Midlands, West Midlands etc.) but those don’t really matter so much.

Anyway it’s all rather complicated but there you go.




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33 Responses to Great Britain vs United Kingdom vs England

  1. YeinJee May 26, 2008 at 2:18 pm #

    When people asked your country of origin… would you say England, Britain or UK?

  2. ShaolinTiger May 26, 2008 at 2:24 pm #

    YeinJee: I usually answer UK as country, nationality would be British. I’m actually born in Wales but raised in England.

  3. lotsofcravings May 26, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    manchester is like 2 hrs by train? great piece of general knowledge..nvr knew myself what is the diff between uk and england..

  4. chris tock May 26, 2008 at 2:42 pm #

    lol lol thank you for the enlightenment 😛

  5. Galvin May 26, 2008 at 3:24 pm #

    He’s a kwailo! Nuff said!

  6. eyeris May 26, 2008 at 4:07 pm #

    teacher teacher! Why the Olimpik no have the England football team but the World Cup got wan?

  7. ShaolinTiger May 26, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    lotsofcravings: Depends how fast the train is, more towards 4-5 hours. It’s about 2 hours from London to Birmingham.

    chris tock: Yeah you stayed there and I bet you didn’t know!

    eyeris: England doesn’t enter in the Olympics, UK/Great Britain does and they haven’t had a football team since 1972 🙁 Apparently there might be one for 2012…but it looks unlikely. More here.

  8. eyeris May 26, 2008 at 5:05 pm #

    if Great Britain has a united Britain football team, it’s gonna cause damn a lot of red tape and not to mention all that fuss that FIFA and UEFA will kick up. Besides, if there can be a united UK team, they’d argue that they should do the same for the World Cup and Euro as well, which would free up a lot more slots for other countries…

  9. ShaolinTiger May 26, 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    eyeris: Yup thats why Scotland, Wales and Ireland steadfastly refuse to be a part of the thing – they are scared they might lose their status…England is the only one so far that agrees. That’s why I said it’s unlikely, unless it’s a UK/British team made up of only English player.

  10. JW May 26, 2008 at 5:43 pm #

    A much needed post. 🙂

    I for one cannot understand why people get London and England confused :/

  11. Dabido May 26, 2008 at 8:25 pm #

    So England is the Capital of Cardiff, and London is a country on it’s own somewhere in the Shetland Islands just a bit south east of Isle of Wight and north west of Dublin! Gotcha! No longer will I be confused! 🙂

    Now, is Scotland still the capital of Ulster?

  12. Mark May 26, 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    Wow born in Wales but raised in England. Kinda like Ryan Giggs eh?

  13. Infidel Media May 27, 2008 at 2:09 am #

    Forget security auditing, go into teaching geography!

  14. Simon Seow May 27, 2008 at 4:47 am #

    Just like to know is Wimbledon, and Kingston part of London?

  15. acidict May 27, 2008 at 9:14 am #

    so u were born a sheep shagger! 😛

  16. Michael Yip May 27, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    teacher teacher… is England in Manchester United?
    Is Sir Alex Ferguson the all mighty Ruler of England?

    *runs before being stoned to death*

  17. potatoe May 27, 2008 at 12:14 pm #

    you are too tall for a welsh – cmyru boy. 😛

  18. Wannabe Economist May 27, 2008 at 1:27 pm #

    My understanding of UK it’s something like a “continent”, but I don’t know what’s the appropriate word for it. =/

  19. kevin May 27, 2008 at 7:49 pm #

    thx for clearing up the misconception i had on the terms!

  20. CHOW FC May 28, 2008 at 12:37 am #

    Ha ha! And when I was in Aberdeen and Coleraine, everyone don’t even know where Malaysia was.

    (But they did not joke about us living on trees, though)

  21. wei May 28, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    we will still say england or UK

  22. boonsky May 28, 2008 at 4:24 pm #

    All I can say is I’m learning to speak England so it’ll be easy for me when I visit English someday. Do those places you mentioned also speak England? Just in case if I wander off there. Speaking England is very much a huge challenge for me now, definitely very tough to pick up additional language. 🙂

  23. Dabido May 28, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    Chow FC – They might have been confused as to whether you meant Malaysia, England or Malaysia, France. Those two cities are easily confused! One of them is right next to Malaychester United too which makes it even more confusing.

  24. grace May 28, 2008 at 9:40 pm #

    Wow… At least I know how to differentiate now with your explanation.

    However we tend to say…. further studies in UK, work in UK, travel to UK… Seems like we prefer the word “UK”. You are raised in England? Which part of England?

  25. julian May 31, 2008 at 2:04 pm #

    Just to add to the confusion, when people finally think they’ve got it worked out – you could also add that it’s called ‘Great Britain’ (from French ‘Grande Bretagne’ or ‘Big Britain’) because the other ‘Britain’ is Britanny (‘Bretagne’)in France.

    Though of course, by the time it became Great Britain, the Britons were mostly in Wales 🙂

  26. ShaolinTiger June 2, 2008 at 1:23 am #

    JW: Ignorance…sadly the same reason for many common misconceptions.

    Dabido: Correct, and yes it’s still the capital.

    Mark: Aye, sadly can’t play football like him tho.

    Simon Seow: Did you even read the post?! I’M NOT FROM LONDON.

    acidict: Yes yes, still got my velcro pants and welly boots 😀

    Michael Yip: Hahahah yes yes run run before I throw haggis at you.

    potatoe: The gaelic boys are tall and strong ok, go check out the Welsh rugby team!

    grace: Yah UK is a common term, it’s fine to use it to as it’s correct. I was brought up all around England, moved a lot.

    julian: Aiyah don’t confuse people more please!

  27. Simon Seow June 2, 2008 at 3:13 am #

    I know you’re not from London. I’ve only been to Surrey, Kingston , Wimbledon and London City. So, not sure whether Kingston and Wimbledon is part of London. I did make a short trip to Cambridge, nice the scenery there.

  28. johnny ong June 4, 2008 at 2:55 pm #

    its the same thing with malaysia too. u have the following places linked to malaysia:-

    * peninsula malaysia
    * east malaysia
    * west malaysia
    * east malaysia in borneo island
    * malaysian east coast

    if people are not familiar with the malaysian geographical status, they would be confused too

  29. Komodo Dragon June 4, 2008 at 4:12 pm #

    I guess I am one of those people who have been mislead to believing that all 3 were the same. Now it all makes sense!

  30. ShaolinTiger June 4, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    johnny ong: Yah that could be confusing for people, especially with Borneo/Sabah/Sarawak/East Malaysia distinctions.

    Komodo Dragon: Good good, now you know 🙂

  31. Asyraf Lee June 9, 2008 at 4:33 pm #

    I knew it you’re from Wales, well, born there at least. But who cares lah, you’re more Malaysian than me wei :S

  32. ShaolinTiger June 10, 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    Asyraf Lee: Hehe not bad la.

  33. swaneer August 26, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    Why did Great Britain compete in the Olympics as Great Britain rather than as the United Kingdom? Did Northern Ireland send a team? Is Great Britain actually a country? Can GB and UK both be countries?