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Chapter 2: What is the UK?

Geographic Overview of the UK

Chapter 2 gives a summary of the different nations that form the United Kingdom. It explains the words used to talk about the islands and the people who live there. A map is included to show where these nations are located within the UK. This chapter also helps explain the terms 'Crown Dependencies' and 'British overseas territories'.
The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It's important to remember that the rest of Ireland is a separate country that is independent.
The official name of the country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 'Great Britain' strictly means England, Scotland, and Wales, not including Northern Ireland. However, the words 'Britain', 'British Isles', or 'British' are used in this context to talk about everyone in the UK.
Moreover, several islands are closely linked with the UK but do not form part of it: the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. These territories have their own governments and are called 'Crown dependencies'. There are also many British overseas territories in other parts of the world, like St. Helena and the Falkland Islands. These territories are connected with the UK but are not a part of it.
The United Kingdom is governed by the Parliament in Westminster. However, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland also have their own parliaments or assemblies, with devolved powers in specified areas.

Make Sure You Understand

  • The different countries that form the UK
  • The difference between 'Great Britain' and the 'United Kingdom'
  • What 'Crown Dependencies' and 'British overseas territories' mean
  • The governing system of the UK and the roles of different parliaments or assemblies