Great Britain Vs. United Kingdom: 3 Major Differences

Many of us make the mistake of using these words interchangeably at some point in our life, but they don’t denote the same things. To understand the difference between Great Britain vs UK, we need to take a look at their history. Follow us till the end of this article to know about the differences between these two names.

 

Great Britain vs UK: A Brief Overview

There are multiple differences between these. In fact, the terms Great Britain and United Kingdom are conceptually different, and they denote different geographical regions too.

Firstly, the United Kingdom is a larger geographical area than the Great Britain. The Great Britain consists of England, Wales, and Scotland. However, the United Kingdom comprises of these three and Northern Ireland.

Then again, Great Britain is used both as a geographical term to denote the island known as Britain, and it’s also used politically. However, the United Kingdom is a political term, and it’s not right to use it as a geographical term.

 

What Is Great Britain?

Great Britain

The island of Great Britain consists of three regions. These are England, Scotland, and Wales, and all of them are autonomous regions. It’s to be mentioned that Northern Ireland isn’t a part of Great Britain. Certain offshore islands are also included. For example, the Hebrides in Scotland.

If you take a look at the map, you’ll find that Great Britain is much bigger than the neighboring isle, which is Ireland. Great Britain is located in the east of Ireland and Northwest of France. The Romans called Great Britain “Albion”.

 

What Is the United Kingdom?

United Kingdom
source

The United Kingdom comprises England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It’s generally called the UK by the mass. The official name of it is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Yes, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are individual countries. However, they need to maintain regulations imposed by the UK. The capital of the United Kingdom is London, but there are parliaments in each country: Cardiff in Wales, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and Edinburgh in Scotland.

 

Main Differences Between Great Britain and United Kingdom

Certain factors make Great Britain and United Kingdom completely different. In this section, we’ll discuss the factors in detail.

  • Concept

There lies a major difference in the very concept of these names. Great Britain is both a geographical and a political concept. On the other hand, the United Kingdom is only a political concept.

It means there are no policies or rules imposed by Great Britain, as it’s mostly a geographical concept that’s often used politically. However, The United Kingdom is a political term, and it’s a sovereign state.

  • Countries

The Geographical area is perhaps the most visible difference between the two. However, there lies a certain degree of confusion as both of them comprise similar countries.

Great Britain comprises England, Scotland, and Wales. On the other hand, United Kingdom comprises England, Scotland, Wales, as well as Northern Ireland. Therefore, if you’re mentioning Great Britain, you’re mentioning all the countries of the United Kingdom other than Northern Ireland.

So, using them interchangeably may not be wrong in every case. However, it’s recommended not to do so.

  • Geographical Area and Population

Great Britain comprises an area of 229,848 square km, and it has a population of 60.8 million.

On the other hand, the United Kingdom has an area of 242,495 square km, and it has a population of 66.65 million.

 

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A Comparison Table to Summarize

Parameter of comparison

Great Britain

United Kingdom

Concept

Geographical and political

Purely political

Countries

England, Scotland, and Wales.

England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Area

229,848 square km

242,495 square km

Population

60.8 million

66.65 million

 

Key Takeaways

  • Great Britain comprises England, Wales, and Scotland, whereas the United Kingdom comprises of these as well as Northern Ireland.
  • Great Britain is smaller than the United Kingdom.
  • While the United Kingdom is purely a political term, Great Britain has both political and geographical backgrounds.

 

Conclusion

These were the main differences between Great Britain vs United Kingdom. Although using these terms interchangeably won’t be wrong in certain cases, it’s recommended not to.

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