Britain was the name made popular by the Romans when they came to the British islands.
England used to be known as Engla land, meaning the land of the Angles, people from continental Germany, who began to invade Britain in the late 5th century, along with the Saxons and Jute.
The term Great Britain was first used during the reign of King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) in 1603, to refer to the separate kingdoms of England and Scotland. on the same landmass, that were ruled over by the same monarch. Despite having the same monarch, both kingdoms kept their own parliaments.
(The uniting of kingdoms)
The 'United Kingdom of Great Britain' was formed in 1707 by the Act of Union that created a single kingdom with a single Parliament.
(Scotland has always retained its own legal system)
A hundred years later the Act of Union of 1801 joined Ireland to 'Great Britain' and the name "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" was first used. (Since 1921 only Northern Ireland has been part of the United Kingdom and so the name changed).
Find out more by visiting our Union Flag pages .
Click here to find out more about Great Britain.
Find out about the UK
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?
Questions about the British Isles
What is the British Isles?
Questions about England
Why does England dominate the UK?