The United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Maps - geographical and political

Citizens of the United Kingdom are British, which is where the confusion starts as "Britain" while commonly used and understood doesn't really refer to a geographic area though is often used interchangeably for "United Kingdom".

While citizens of all of the component parts of the United Kingdom may be referred to as British, you should be aware of is that "British" is NOT the same as "English". Referring to one of the 16% who is British but not from England as "English" will probably result in a correction on a scale of a jokey "It's ok, but.." - to terse and tight lipped.

British Isles map

British Isles

Political - United Kingdom + Republic of Ireland

Nationalities - British or Irish

Population 2020: 72.1 million

United Kingdom map

United Kingdom

Political - United Kingdom

Nationality - British (those born in Northern Ireland also have automatic Irish citizenry)

Population 2020: 67.1 million

Full title: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

great-britain map

Great Britain

Political - n/a

Nationality - British

Great Britain is the name of the largest island, it contains most of England, Scotland and Wales apart from the smaller islands.

england map


Political - England

Nationality - British and English

Population 2020: 56.6 million

scotland map


Political - Scotland

Nationality - British and Scottish

Population 2020: 5.5 million

wales map


Political - Wales

Nationality - British and Welsh

Population 2020: 3.2 million

ireland map


Political - Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

Nationalities - Irish or British (N. Ireland only)

Population 2020: 6.9 million

eire - republic of ireland map

Republic of Ireland

Political - Republic of Ireland

Nationality - Irish

Population 2020: 5 million

northern ireland map

Northern Ireland

Political - Northern Ireland

Nationality - British and Irish

Population 2020: 1.9 million

Got that? Don't worry, many British people would have some difficulty in explaining it all too, just don't go calling everyone English when they might not be, even if they are British.

Strictly speaking the citizens of the UK are all primarily British and not English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, there is however no consensus as to how the terms should be applied and so everyone essentially has a catch-all nationality of British and then a more specific one as well.

The Republic of Ireland is part of the British Isles geographically but is not part of the political United Kingdom or Britain.

There is often confusion at many levels, for instance our team in the Olympics and some other sporting events is called "Team GB"  for Great Britain when that is just the name of the largest island, "Team UK" would be more accurate, but GB it is.

I get a regular reminder when filling in any online form that asks for my nationality with a huge drop down list and have 3 different places to look for a choice England, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.