British Isles, British Islands, Great Britain, United Kingdom

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What are the differences between British Isles, British Islands, Great Britain and United Kingdom?.

Great Britain consists of the countries: England, Wales and Scotland.


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The United Kingdom [UK] consists of Great Britain (as above) plus Northern Ireland.

The British Isles consist of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides and over six thousand smaller isles. (Ireland may not be happy with this term). It’s first use was recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary in 1577 as “Brytish Iles”.

British Islands: Section 5 of the Interpretation Act 1978 stated that the British Islands means the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man is NOT part of the UK, and neither are the Channel Islands, or Ireland, of course.

Ireland: Complex politics or simple geography: Is Ireland part of the British Isles?


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The British Isles is not an officially recognised term in any legal or inter-governmental sense. It is without any official status. The Government, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, does not use this term.


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