England vs. Great Britain: Which is which?

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Difference between England and Great Britain

For many people, England and Great Britain mean essentially the same thing. Given the numerous similarities between both, one can't help but be confused as to what the differences are. Nevertheless, these significant differences do exist and some of those are what this comparison article aims to reveal.

Great Britain


England is a country in the United Kingdom that is bordered by Scotland to the north and Wales to the west. The country is situated southeast of the Irish Sea and has the Celtic Sea towards the southwest, with the English Channel separating it from the rest of the European continent. Aside from the main island, the country is also comprised of more than 100 islands including the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Great Britain itself is an island that is located northwest of the European continent. It is actually the largest island in Europe and is the ninth largest island in the world. Great Britain is encircled by numerous smaller islands and islets numbering well over 1,000. In terms of political boundaries, Great Britain encompasses England, Scotland and Wales.

Early History

The earliest signs of proto-human presence in England are bones found in the area that have been determined to be more than 700,000 years old. The first arrival of humans in the area sates to more than 35,000 years ago, although it is thought that these people subsequently relocated to southern Europe in order to avoid the harsh Ice Age.

Great Britain for its part was first settled in by travelers who crossed over from Europe by way of the land bridge. The earliest traces of human inhabitants date back to more than 500,000 years ago, and it is thought that modern humans began settling in the area beginning 30,000 years ago. It is also thought that numerous crossings were made by both humans and animals to and from mainland Europe and Great Britain via land bridges.

Prominent Cities

London is the location of the largest metropolitan are in England, which is the Greater London Urban Area. London is also the most heavily populated city in England, and in fact has more inhabitants than any other country in the United Kingdom. Of the 66 cities in the United Kingdom, 50 can be found in England. Among the more notable cities in the country are Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Bradford, and Nottingham, and the country also has numerous smaller cities such as Wells, Ely, Ripon, Truro and Chichester.

As for Great Britain, its capital cities are London in the United Kingdom, Edinburgh in Scotland, and Cardiff in Wales. Other major cities in the island are Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, Leicester, Coventry and Kingston upon Hull, among others.



  • Is a country on in Great Britain
  • Notable cities include Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Bradford, Nottingham
  • Also has numerous smaller cities such as Wells, Ely, Ripon, Truro and Chichester

Great Britain

  • Is the largest island in Europe and is comprised of England, Wales and Scotland
  • Notable cities include London Edinburgh, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, Leicester, Coventry and Kingston upon Hull

Which term is preferred by Londoners?
  • England
  • Great Britain

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