Is it the UK, Britain or Great Britain?!

The short answer is, it's complicated, and even people who live in the UK sometimes use the wrong term! Here is a brief explanation of which nation goes where.

Great Britain
In 1707, the Act of Union joined Scotland, England and Wales to create Great Britain, which is the official name used nowadays for the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, and the principality of Wales. It comprises the main part of the UK and breaks down into smaller regions, called counties. For example, London sits in the county of Greater London.

As a side note, the capital of England is London, the capital of Scotland is Edinburgh and the capital of Wales is Cardiff.

United Kingdom (UK)
The UK refers to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to give it its full name, and so includes both Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland. It was established by the Act of Union in 1801, which added Ireland to the Union that was formed between England, Wales and Scotland in 1707, although only Northern Ireland remained part of the UK after 1921. The capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast, while the capital of Ireland is Dublin.

Britain (or “Britannia”) was the name made popular by the Romans when they first came to the British islands. However, Britain actually means something different to Great Britain as it refers to just England and Wales, and so excludes Scotland, which is included in Great Britain. Strictly speaking, Britain has not existed in its true sense since Roman times as Wales became a separate country in its own right and then a principality of England, as it is today. That said, you will often find that people who live in the UK use “Britain” when they mean to refer to “Great Britain”, so you can see it is easy to get confused! In addition, people living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are “British” rather than “Great British”!

The good news is that British people are pretty laid back when it comes to the use of “UK”, “Great Britain” and “Britain” so rest assured that you are most unlikely to cause any offence by using the wrong term!

Are you thinking about a vacation or tour in the UK? All our UK vacations and tours are fully customizable to your requirements and guided tours are pre-arranged, meaning you can simply relax and enjoy the stunning scenery, ancient architecture and vibrant atmosphere on your trip to the UK! If you would like a quote for your UK tour or vacation, then please fill in our online form or call us on 1-347-594-5500.

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