It’s the land of Dr. Who, rainy weather, monarchies, and Mary Poppins. It’s the little island off the coast of Europe that gave us fish & chips and James Bond. Sometimes, the geography and political landscape of that little island can be quite confusing. One reader sheepishly sent us a question, “What’s the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England?” Well, grab a spot of tea and let’s find out.
Many people may laugh at you for not knowing the difference, especially Europeans, but they might be surprised to find out that many Americans do not know the differences. Most Americans recognize that there is indeed a difference, but not what those differences are. Unfortunately, most of us are also too embarrassed to ask. Today we will find out (be sure to check out the fantastic video included below).
England is the single country that shares land borders with Wales to the west, Scotland to the north; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the North Sea to the east.
Great Britain is the large island, and includes a small conglomerate of countries consisting of Scotland, England, and Wales.
The name United Kingdom or “UK” is officially called (or short for) ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.’ It includes all of Great Britain and includes Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is a portion a of Ireland located at the north-east corner. The remainder of Ireland is the Republic of Ireland, a separate independent country.
The United Kingdom at one time also included the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. These are now all territories ruled by the British crown, though they are generally self-governing.
Australia also has close ties to the United Kingdom and both shared a common nationality code. However, those constitutional ties ended in 1986 with the passing of the Australia Act in 1986.
Fun Facts: Completed in 1994, there is a 31.4 mile tunnel that connects the UK to Europe. This tunnel is called the Channel Tunnel or ‘Chunnel’ and is located underneath the English Channel. The trip underneath the channel takes roughly 30 minutes, while the entire trip from London to Paris takes 2 hours and 15 minutes.
While Canada is an independent nation, Canada remains part of the Commonwealth of Nations and Canada’s monarch is the Queen of England. Though, today she remains simply a figurehead.