Difference Between Great Britain and The United Kingdom

People often use different words to refer to the same situation, though both the terms might have different meanings. Great Britain and the United Kingdom are two such phrases often used as substitutes.

Though these both names are used to be equivalent, they have pretty different meanings. To understand these phrases satisfactorily, you are required to comprehend the discrepancy between them. 

Great Britain vs The United Kingdom

The main difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom is that Great Britain is a geographical faction of nations. On the other hand, the United Kingdom refers to a political group of countries. Great Britain comprises England, Wales, and Scotland, whereas the United Kingdom includes England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Great Britain vs The United Kingdom

Great Britain is an area surrounded by the Atlantic ocean on all sides situated on the northwest coast of Europe. Great Britain is just a word used to refer to England, Wales, and Scotland.

Several other islands were included under Great Britain, such as the Isle of Wight, Isle of Scilly, Shetland, and the Hebrides.

The United Kingdom is an autonomous state situated in the northwest part of the continent of  Europe. The United Kingdom is frequently cited as a sovereign political unit.

It is referred to as a political unit because all the countries within it report to the Parliament of the United Kingdom. England is the largest country within the states. 

Comparison Table Between Great Britain and The United Kingdom

Parameters of Comparison Great Britain The United Kingdom
DefinitionGreat Britain is a purely geographical word.The United Kingdom is a political representation of the area. 
Usage of termTerm Great Britain is used as a synonym for Britain. The term united kingdom represents the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. 
AreaThe entire region under Great Britain is around 80,823 square miles. It is the 9th largest island in the world. The whole region of the United Kingdom is 93628 Square miles.
Constituent NationsThe nations under Great Britain are England, Wales, and Scotland.The nations included under the United Kingdom are England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.
Origin of termBritain term has originated from the Roman word Britannia.Acts of Union 1800 gave the United kingdom term.

What is Great Britain?

Great Britain is merely a geographical term used to relegate to Wales, England and Scotland surrounded by the Atlantic ocean on the four sides.

The tunnel isles nearby are not contained in the province of Great Britain. Great Britain is connected to mainland Europe by the underwater rail tunnel.

This tunnel is the most massive one among the other tunnels of its kind in the world. Several 1000 islands and islets surround it. 

The initial residents of the island of Great Britain are supposed to have reached from the Mainland or continental part of Europe. Most historians have referred to modern-day Great Britain as Great Britain or the kingdom of Great Britain.

The popular countries in the area include London, Glasgow, Liverpool, etc. There are different languages spoken in Britain, such as English, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, etc.  

Each of the countries included under Great Britain has its language, and thus different languages as mentioned are used in the area.

Christianity is an extensively practised belief in the area. Minority populations practice Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhis, and several other religions. 

What is the United Kingdom?

The united kingdom is the small phrase utilized to describe the united kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom has a unitary parliament democracy and is constitutionally a kingdom.

Queen Elizabeth 2 has remained as the queen of the monarchy since 1952. 

The United kingdom has emerged from the separation and union of the different parts. Extensive Ireland constituting Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was previously a portion of the United Kingdom.

 Later, when the Irish state declared itself free, Northern Ireland agreed to stay part of the United Kingdom. But another part of  Ireland declared itself as a sovereign state.

It is currently named the Republic of Ireland, and it’s neither part of the United Kingdom nor Great Britain.

The United Kingdom is considered one of the biggest and most competitive economies globally. According to positions, it is the fifth-largest economy in the world. The major country and the financial head region of the United Kingdom is London.

Except for England, all the other countries have their own Parliament. The official identification to refer to the people of the united kingdom is British citizens Though people of the UK often refer to themselves as Scottish, Welsh, English, etc.

The estimated population of the United Kingdom as of 2020 is 67 million.

Main Differences Between Great Britain and The United Kingdom

  1. The word Britain had originated from Britannia, and the word great was used to differentiate it from Ireland, which was earlier called Little Britain. The United kingdom term originated to refer to the kingdom of a combination of Britain, constituent countries, and several other British countries present separately.
  2. Great Britain occupies Scotland, Wales, and England. Whereas the United States occupies Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and some more nearby islands of British isles.
  3. The Great Britain phrase is not used while speaking about any parliamentary actions. In contrast, The united kingdom, or short of the UK, is used chiefly in parliamentary and financial dealings. 
  4. The Great Britain phrase is supposed to have originated from the Roman word Britannia. In contrast, the United Kingdom phrase was the result of the Acts of Union 1800, which used the term to define the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  5. Great Britain has less fauna and flora. On The other hand, the United Kingdom has a large diversity of fauna and flora since Ireland is also included under it.
Difference Between Great Britain and The United Kingdom


Although Great Britain and the United kingdom are termed used to refer to sovereign countries, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are also pertained to as individual nations.

In specific international codes, GB or Great Britain has been used to refer to the United Kingdom. So, these two terms are often used interchangeably. However, the most appropriate term is the United Kingdom. 

Oxford dictionary states that the term great. 

Britain is used to suggesting the United Kingdom. Even books of the UK government have used both terms synonymously. So, there is no clear distinction between the terms, but the main difference is of constituent nations under them.


  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-211-72882-6_56
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=TKgKEAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA87&dq=difference+between+Great+Britain+and+the+United+Kingdom+&ots=Xhfkd9LsBt&sig=NAi_s6aItpIIfeFgKY3WRvZTdTg


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