In this article, I answer some of the most common questions English learners have regarding the geography and politics behind the countries that make up Great Britain and The United Kingdom:
What is the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom?
What countries make up Great Britain and the UK?
Where is Scotland? Where is Wales? Where is England?!
Great Britain is an island in Western Europe. It is in fact the largest island in Europe and the 9th largest island in the world.
Politically, Great Britain is made up of 3 individual countries:
It also includes islands such as the Isle of Wight, Anglesey, the Isles of Scilly, the Hebrides and the island groups of Orkney and Shetland.
It does not include the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands which are self-governing.
In the sections below, you can see where the 3 countries (England, Scotland and Wales) are located within Great Britain:
England is the largest country of Great Britain with a surface area of 130,395 km2 and the population is 53 million.
The capital of England is London which is in the South East of the country.
The official language is English.
Scotland has a surface area of 78,387 km2 and the population is just over 5 million.
The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh and the largest city is Glasgow.
The official language is English and there are also 2 recognised regional languages: Scots language and Scottish Gaelic.
Wales has a surface area of 20,779 km2 and the population is just over 3 million.
The capital of Wales is Cardiff.
The official languages are Welsh and English.
The full name of the United Kingdom is “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. It is often abbreviated to UK.
The United Kingdom is made up of:
- Great Britain (see the definition above)
- Northern Ireland
In the map below, you can clearly see where Northern Ireland is location in relation to the rest of the United Kingdom:
Northern Ireland has a surface area of 14,130 km2 and the population is approximately 1.8 million.
The capital (and also largest city) of Northern Ireland is Belfast.
The official language is English and there are also 2 regional languages: Irish and Ulster Scots.