Great Britain, United Kingdom and the British Isles, what gives?

There may be some confusion out there about what exactly encompasses the different titles describing England and its neighbors.

Here’s some clarification. Great Britain is a geopolitical term consisting of England, Scotland and Wales. The United Kingdom is a shorter name for the political union of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

And the term British Isles refers to all of the above, including the Republic of Ireland and a surrounding archipelago that comprises thousands of smaller islands and islets off the northwest coast of continental Europe.

According to the CIA World Factbook Web site, England has existed as a unified entity since the 10th century. In separate acts of union, Wales and Scotland joined England in 1536 and 1707, respectively, to form what is now Great Britain.

In 1801, Ireland did the same in a legislative union that initiated the name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. That title then changed to the current United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927, following the independence of the majority of Ireland, the Web site said.

Nowadays, the U.K. has several overseas territories, including Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, where war broke out between the U.K. and Argentina in 1982 to claim the small islands, located 300 miles off the coast of South America.

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