The Difference between the U.K., Great Britain, England, and the British Isles

Key differences of these names often used interchangeably

by Liz Olson

There are key differences between Great Britain, the United Kingdom, and England—names often used interchangeably.

Great Britain

Great Britain is an island that consists of three somewhat autonomous regions that include England, Scotland, and Wales. It is located east of Ireland and northwest of France in the Atlantic Ocean.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is a country that includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Its official name is “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are often mistaken as names of countries, but they are only a part of the United Kingdom.

The British Isles

The British Isles is another term altogether and encompasses Great Britain, the island of Ireland, and several other smaller islands, such as the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man is not a part of the United Kingdom or the European Union, even though its Lord is the Monarch of the United Kingdom.

The Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of countries that were formerly British colonies. Members of the Commonwealth of Nations recognize the United Kingdom Monarch as their own king or queen, but remain politically independent.

Members of the Commonwealth of Nations

Did you know?
The worst fire in American history took place in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, in 1871.

highlights

Happy Surfing! 5 Safe Search Engines for Kids
These safe search engines for kids offer pre-screened sites and age-appropriate filters and content, so your child can have the freedom to browse the Internet while you have peace of mind that he's safe online.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

Best School Supplies of 2015
It's time to stock up on the latest and greatest school supplies! Make sure your child has all the trendy accessories and must-have classroom staples he needs.

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks