British Culture  
by Mandy Barrow
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Why is England or the UK sometimes called Britain?

'When people say England, they sometimes mean Great Britain,
sometimes the United Kingdom,
sometimes the British Isles - but never England
'How to be an Alien' by George Mikes

"England" is sometimes, wrongly, used in reference to the whole United Kingdom, the entire island of Great Britain (or simply Britain), or indeed the British Isles. This is not only incorrect but can cause offence to people from other parts of the UK. (See nationality of the British people).

Great Britain
Great Britain

The diverse history of England, Scotland and Wales has led to very different cultural traditions; The Scots and Welsh have right to feel aggrieved whenever the term 'English' is used wrongly, to mean all three.

Countries within a Country

The name United Kingdom refers to the union of what were once four separate countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (though most of Ireland is now independent).

The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom

History of the making of the UK

Scotland and England had separate Monarchs until 1603, when Queen Elizabeth I died without any heirs. 

The next in line of succession to the English throne was James VI, King of Scots who became known as James I in England.  James was also King of Ireland and of France at the same time.  He is the King that Guy Fawkes and the other members of the Gunpowder plot tried to kill on November 5th 1605, which is why we remember on Guy Fawkes night.

Scotland and England, together with Wales united by the Act of union passed by the Scottish Parliament and Westminster in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. 

The Irish Parliament voted to join the Union in 1801 when the then Kingdom of Great Britain became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.  The full name of the UK then changed in 1922 when most of the Southern counties in Ireland choose independence and ultimately became what is now the Republic of Ireland, leaving the UK as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The UK's full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Find out more about the UK

Great Britain comprises only England, Scotland and Wales.
Find out more about Britain

Great Britain is the largest island of the British Isles.
Find out more about the British Isles

During the next few pages we will explain the differences between Britain, the UK and England by answering the following questions:

EnglandQuestions about England

Why does England dominate the UK?

Where did the name England come from?

Great BritainQuestions about Great Britain

What is Great Britain?

Is Britain the same as Great Britain?

Which countries are in Great Britain?

Who gave Britain its name?

Find out about Great Britain

UKQuestions about the United Kingdom

Where is the UK?

What countries make up the UK?

What is the official title (name) of the UK?

Why is the whole of Ireland not part of the UK?

How and why was the UK formed?Find out about the UK

Questions about the British Isles

What is the British Isles?

Find out about the British Isles


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British Life
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Flat Stanley
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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

I left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant.
I now teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.