what's the difference between england vs uk vs great britain

England vs UK vs Great Britain

England vs UK vs Great Britain

Do England, the United Kingdom, and Great Britain, all refer to the same place?  What’s the difference between the UK and Great Britain and English, and what’s included in each? Is the UK and Great Britain the same? What’s the Is Scotland a country?

5 minute video on UK, Great Britain, England

Let’s start with the answer in a 5-minute video that breaks these down. I’ve also highlighted some quick answers below that.

You’ll understand the answer your initial question in the first 30-seconds. This clip does a great job with the natural follow-up questions.

For example, why is the Queen is on Canadian currency? Where do Belize and the Cayman Islands fit in?  Enjoy!

what's the difference between england vs uk vs great britain
image from below CGPGrey video

Next let’s summarize what we learned here. England vs UK vs Great Britain

Here’s a quick breakdown:


England contains about 80% of the population of the UK.

Great Britain
  • The term Great Britain includes England, Wales and Scotland.
  • Great Britain is a geographical term referring to the island on which the greater parts of England, Wales and Scotland are situated.
  • GB is also a legal one referring to those three territories considered together.
  • Great Britain is the largest island of the British Isles, which is most of the UK but not all.
Did you know: Where does the name Great Britain come from?

The name GB originates from the Latin ‘Britannia’, the ‘Great’ being introduced to distinguish it from Little Britain, which was the French province later called Bretagne, or Brittany.

The United Kingdom
  • United Kingdom includes Great Britain (England, Scotland, & Wales), plus Northern Ireland.
  • The full name of the UK is actually “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
  • It defines the area represented in the UK Parliament and for which that Parliament normally makes laws.
  • Northern Ireland and multiple small islands from each country in the region are part of the UK but not part of GB.

So you now you know the difference between England vs UK vs GB, but that still leaves some unanswered questions.

Why is the Queen on Canadian money??

Commonwealth realm
  • The Commonwealth realm are countries who were formerly British colonies.
  • This term includes the United Kingdom, as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, in addition to Belize, Bahamas, Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent.
  • These are independent sovereign nations, but recognize the monarchy as head of state.
  • The official name is the Commonwealth Realm.
British territories
  • British territories are different than those above in that they’re not independent (formerly known as “Crown Colonies”).
  • These territories are not part of the UK but they’re under the UK’s jurisdiction. These include Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, and more.
  • The full name is British Overseas Territories.
  • British” doesn’t mean you’re from Great Britain. All of the above countries are British, even though they have different nationalities. The vast majority aren’t in Great Britain.
  • Technically, British are citizens or natives of the United KingdomCrown Dependencies (Gibraltar, Jersey, Isle of Man), British Overseas Territories, and their descendants.

My head is spinning…

Here’s a helpful diagram:

The Crown explained


England vs UK vs Great Britain

Sources –  CGPGrey‘s informative video clip (above), various Wiki links.

CGPGrey‘s Youtube page and blog have a wealth of tremendous video explainers on other topics as well – I strongly recommend!

What do you think? Join the convo, and add your comments here :)