England | Scotland | Wales | Britain | Great Britain
United Kingdom | Northern Ireland | British Isles
'When people say England, they sometimes mean Great Britain,
sometimes the United Kingdom,
sometimes the British Isles -
but never England.' How to be an Alien' by George Mikes
Why is England or the UK sometimes called Britain?
"England" is sometimes, wrongly, used in reference to the whole United Kingdom, the entire island of Great Britain (or simply Britain), or indeed the British Isles. This is not only incorrect but can cause offence to people from other parts of the UK.
(See nationality of the British people).
England, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain refer to different 'parts of the UK. The British Isles includes many islands not even part of the UK.
The diverse history of England, Scotland and Wales has led to very different cultural traditions; The Scots and Welsh have right to feel aggrieved whenever the term 'English' is used wrongly, to mean all three.
The name United Kingdom refers to the union of what were once four separate countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (though most of Ireland is now independent, only Northern Ireland remains part of the UK).
The United Kingdom
The UK's full and official name is the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
1536 - Act of Union joins England and Wales
1707 - Act of Union unites Scotland and England, together with Wales to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
1801 - The Irish Parliament voted to join the Union. The then Kingdom of Great Britain becomes the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
1922 - Name changed to United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, when most of the Southern counties in Ireland choose independence.
Britain comprises only England and Wales.
Find out why here
Great Britain comprises only England, Scotland and Wales.
Find out more about Great Britain
The British Isles - made up of several islands. Great Britain is the largest one.
Find out more about the British Isles
Click here to find out more about the UK
Questions about England
Why does England dominate the UK?
Where did the name England come from?
Questions about Great Britain
What is Great Britain?
Is Britain the same as Great Britain?
Which countries are in Great Britain?
Who gave Britain its name?
Find out about Great Britain
Questions about the United Kingdom
Where is the UK?
What countries make up the UK?
What is the official title (name) of the UK?
Why is the whole of Ireland not part of the UK?
How and why was the UK formed?Find out about the UK
Questions about the British Isles
What is the British Isles?
Find out about the British Isles