Great Britain

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The island of Great Britain shown in red

Great Britain is an island in the northwest part of Europe. It is the biggest island on the continent, located just off the shore of France, west of the Netherlands, and north of Spain.

Great Britain is part of the sovereign state called the United Kingdom, and contains three of its four countries: England, Scotland, and Wales. England, the biggest part of the island, is in the southeast, and its capital city is London, which is also the capital of the UK. Scotland is to the north of England, and its capital is Edinburgh. Wales is to the west of England, and its capital is Cardiff.

Great Britain is not the name of the country itself. Many people call the UK "Great Britain" or "England", and British people who do not live in these areas may not like it if other people make this mistake.

West of Great Britain is a smaller island called Ireland. Ireland contains the Republic of Ireland, which is a country in itself, as well as Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is not a part of the island of Great Britain, but it is part of the United Kingdom. This is why Great Britain is not the same as the United Kingdom, because Northern Ireland, which is one of its four constituent countries, is not part of Great Britain. Together with some other islands, Ireland and Great Britain form the British Isles.

Political definition[change | change source]

Great Britain is the largest island of the United Kingdom. Politically, Great Britain means England, Scotland and Wales in combination,[1] but not Northern Ireland. It does include 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 dependent territories.[1][2]

History[change | change source]

The political union that joined the kingdoms of England and Scotland happened in 1707 when the Acts of Union ratified the 1706 Treaty of Union and merged the parliaments of the two nations, forming the Kingdom of Great Britain, which covered the entire island.

Before this, a personal union had existed between these two countries since the 1603 Union of the Crowns under James VI of Scotland and I of England. That union was called the Kingdom of Great Britain.

In 1801, Ireland joined up with Great Britain, which made one country called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Irish Free State left the United Kingdom in 1922.

The national currency of Great Britain is the pound sterling.[3]

More reading[change | change source]

  • Marr, Andrew (2010). The Making of Modern Britain: From Queen Victoria to V.E. Day. Pan. ISBN 9780330510998.
  • Marr, Andrew (2009). A History of Modern Britain (Second ed.). Pan. ISBN 9780330511476.
  • Lynch, Michael (2008). Britain 1945-2007 (Access to History). Hodder Education. ISBN 9780340965955.
  • Lynch, Michael (2008). Britain 1900-51 (Access to History). Hodder Education. ISBN 9780340965948.
  • Deary, Terry (2010). The Horrible History of Britain and Ireland (Horrible Histories). Scholastic. ISBN 9780439953955.
  • McDowall, David (1989). An Illustrated History of Britain. Longman. ISBN 9780582749146.
  • Brocklehurst, Ruth (2008). The Usborne History of Britain. Usborne Publishing. ISBN 9780746084441.
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. (2001). The Oxford History of Britain (Third ed.). Oxford Paperbacks. ISBN 9780192801357.

References[change | change source]