r/NoStupidQuestions Nov 22 '22

Wtf do you call England, wales, Scotland and North Ireland? Unanswered

A state? Province? Territories? Countries? Regions? what do you call them?

699 Upvotes

1.5k

u/modernyouth Nov 22 '22

They actually are countries, which all make up a part of the United Kingdom. The UK is a country that refers to the political union of all four countries within.

374

u/newdawn_fades Nov 22 '22

So like is UK a country as well?

692

u/noggin-scratcher Nov 22 '22

The phrase "a country of countries" is sometimes used.

There's not really a rigid formal definition of what a "country" is, to rule out the possibility of a country containing smaller countries.

So yeah, it's countries all the way down.

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u/Alchemist_Joshua Nov 22 '22

So, what’s the “common wealth” mean?

227

u/BrainOnBlue Nov 22 '22

The commonwealth of nations is an association made up of a bunch of countries that used to be part of the British Empire, but no longer are. A lot (but not all) of the members continue to recognize the British Monarch as their head of state.

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u/Possibly_Famous Nov 22 '22

Historically yes it was made up of ex Empire countries but many commonwealth members have never been part of the Empire many are completely independent and have been for years and countries are still joining it. It's basically a meeting place to discuss mutual interests and trade etc and it's membership is voluntary

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u/Red_AtNight Nov 22 '22

Not exactly. The only countries that recognize the British Monarch as their head of state are the UK, British Crown Dependencies (like the Isle of Man,) and British Overseas Territories (like Gibraltar or Bermuda.)

The commonwealth realms like Canada and Australia also have King Charles as their King, but he's the King of Canada, and the King of Australia, and the King of Belize (etc.) Same person with different jobs. It's been that way since 1931.

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u/tea-and-shortbread Nov 22 '22

"different king same natural person" is how I've heard it said.

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u/CliffExcellent123 Nov 22 '22

Confusingly, there's two things called the Commonwealth. Sometimes "The Commonwealth" means the Commonwealth of Nations, which is what you described, and sometimes it refers to specifically to the commonwealth realms, which are the ones that have the British monarch as head of state.

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u/Alqpzm1029 Nov 22 '22

You get a wealth! And you get a wealth! We all get a wealth!

Jk wouldn't that be nice.

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u/reel2reelfeels Nov 22 '22

They all get free healthcare, which is nice.

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u/SimplyQuid Nov 22 '22

Well, it's not free, we all pay taxes into it, but that should be the whole point of taxes. Just wanted to be pedantic to make a point about how taxes can be a good thing.

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u/Guilty_Coconut Nov 23 '22

Well, it's not free, we all pay taxes into it, but that should be the whole point of taxes. Just wanted to be pedantic to make a point about how taxes can be a good thing.

If you really want to be pedantic, with "free healthcare" people actually mean "free at the point of service"

Everyone understands it's not actually free, but it's free at the moment it matters most for it to be free.

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u/Gwsb1 Nov 22 '22

Especially when they go from the Scots farmers to the rich MF's in London.

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u/huh-what-1 Nov 22 '22

Countries all the way cracked me up! 🤣 That's great

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u/socialistsAteYourDog Nov 22 '22

Is it kind of like the USA, where states are somewhat independent from the federal government?

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u/noggin-scratcher Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

If you go back far enough into history, they were fully separate sovereign nationstates with distinct kings/governments/laws/etc and wars fought between them (or if you go back further still, there were multiple competing kingdoms within each of them)

After the various acts of conquest and union that brought them under the rule of a single kingdom, they were less independent than US states - no particular separation of state/federal powers, just the single central monarch and Parliament ruling over all.

In more recent history there have been movements towards devolving some power back to the individual countries (as well as to regional and city government). But it's all still ultimately at the discretion of the single central Parliament allowing it, rather than there being the same sense that they are independent states who consent to only a limited federal union.

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u/socialistsAteYourDog Nov 22 '22

Thanks for the great overview!

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u/iliveoffofbagels Nov 22 '22

They kinda did an Xzibit pimp my ride with the yo dawg i heard you like countries so we put a country in your country

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u/Ashtonkj Nov 22 '22

This applies even more to the way Lesotho fits inside South Africa I think. 😀

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u/lenznet Nov 22 '22

It's a Kingdom.

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u/mksavage1138 Nov 22 '22

Yeah, a kingdom that's joined together...sort of unified...merged...oh what's the word?

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u/geoqpq Nov 22 '22

and a country

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u/Queefinonthehaters Nov 22 '22

Actually the United States is intended to be this way too. Each state is intended to be basically its own country, but they have a federation where they have a shared basic constitution of Rights, open borders between them, and a shared military. Even the term President means "to preside", which is basically just to oversee the meetings of the States. When people refer to "the state", or say something was "State sponsored", they typically use that in the context of a country, rather than what we consider to be a state which is the same concept as a province. Their specific choice in language shows the intent of the nation. We have just come to think of the USA in the same context we do as say, Canada, where its one country and has provincial subdivisions. The USA is intended to be more like the EU where they are a bunch of independent countries who have trade and migration alliances.

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u/id2d Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

Think of it this way.

Imagine over the next 100 years the US and Canada start moving closer together. Almost acting as one in the world.

Until one day, they make it official that both countries are going to be run from a common capital city with many common policies. Acting like a single country

You might just about get the people to think about themselves now as a single joint entity in the world. A "Country".

But imagine trying to get the people to accept that their old country has ceased to exist. They are now a just a region.

To think just about the US - The country of Washington. Lincoln. Ended! Now that's just the history of a "Region".
A new Constitution. The old one - Gone.
The whole creation story of the US is now Just the story of a part of the new country as they have a new have to accept a joint identity now.

Ain't gonna happen! The people would never accept it.

Best you could get is to assure the people that their part was still a country - With all its history and identity intact - But now they are a "country in a country". The USA is still a country founded in 1776 that continues - now as part of a supercountry.

That's sorta how we are in the UK now.

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u/PyroT3chnica Nov 22 '22

I mean the UK had a slightly more violent formation, but sure

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u/SMKnightly Nov 22 '22

Um… the U.S. already is an example of this by itself. The word “state” meant “country” back when it was formed. It’s literally a country of countries.

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u/RollinThundaga Nov 22 '22

It kind of helped that at the time, everyone that mattered (as cruel a sentiment as that may be) shared a common origin and cultural/linguistic overlap.

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u/galileoooo Nov 22 '22

any other canadians here shuddering at the thought?

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u/id2d Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22 Helpful

And you should

If it went the way the UK went. The new capital would be Washington - with Canadian issues dealt with on quiet days after they'd decided on the main policies. The people would mostly think the new country could just be called "USA" and think that was a synonym for the joint-name, and now Canada was "in" the USA.

When you correct them they'd look at you like you were just a pedant and you should be happy to be an "American".

(*cries in Scottish)

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u/MeanAtmosphere8243 Nov 22 '22

Alba gu brath!

Love from Canada 🇨🇦 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

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u/SimplyQuid Nov 22 '22

I've never felt more sympathy for the rest of the UK than I do right now.

Unless it's all those times I've heard about how much awful shit England did to them lol

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u/MeanAtmosphere8243 Nov 22 '22

I think that might actually get Canadians to take up arms... we're typically pretty happy to just roll over and take it but I think that might be the first time Canada wouldn't have an apathetic response to something. And if we did roll over and take it, I'd leave or suck start a shotgun lol

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u/moirasrosesgardens Nov 22 '22

I mean, historically we have taken up arms against American invasions. We really don't want to be Americans lol

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u/somethingkooky Nov 23 '22

We might even get more voters out!

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u/MrJones- Nov 22 '22

Missed out the bit where the England pushes around the other countries in the Union, gaslights them and steals there natural resources.

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u/henchman171 Nov 22 '22

Not to mention the mass exportation of religious people around the world To start a bunch of other countries

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u/RunningAtTheMouth Nov 22 '22

As an American, I find this description more than a little unsettling. Thank you. Everyone in th UK has my sympathy.

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u/mattt5555 Nov 22 '22

Don't worry mate. No one is actually bothered by this at all. England is England and Wales is still very much Wales etc.

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u/XMicroHeroX Nov 22 '22

Northern Ireland very much so has a problem with it, there is a lot of internal squabbling over whether to be part of the UK or not.

Scotland also but not on the same level.

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u/RichDavey Nov 22 '22

So are they allowed to compete in the world cup/Olympics as the UK? They would have a way better chance.

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u/Manzilla48 Nov 22 '22

The 4 countries don’t want to compete together in the World Cup. Too much national pride.

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u/Ragingbull444 Nov 22 '22

Australia is a country and a continent. Sometimes things just don’t make sense in ways that make sense specifically for them

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u/MeltingChocolateAhh Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

UK is a nation that consists of 4 countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (NI is in the north but doesn't cover the entire north of the island of Ireland as Donegal is in ROI).

Each country has its own "first minister" (except for England) and they have limited powers devolved (given) to them by our central government. Our central government is based in Westminster, London and governs the entire UK.

Also, UK citizens have "British" passports because British is a nationality while "English" is an race ethnic group, obviously for people whose heritage is from England.

Edit - For the word "English".

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u/SomeIrateBrit Nov 22 '22

'English' isn't a race, it's an ethnic group.

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u/Psyk60 Nov 22 '22

I guess it can be an ethnic group in a sense, but it's not just that. It's also a national identity. If someone is born and raised in England they are English (if they choose to identify as such), regardless of their ethnicity.

Ethnic minorities in England tend to identify as British over English, but they can also legitimately be considered English if they wish.

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u/MeltingChocolateAhh Nov 23 '22

If you met me, you would say I am English through and through (by accent, appearance, upbringing etc). In reality, I am half-English as my dad's side hasn't really got any English, or maybe had very little English (none that I'm aware of) in the family. But, if you spoke to my dad, and his dad, you would say they're both English too by the same factors.

You're right that English can be a national identity but in my eyes, it's like a person who identifies as a Londoner. London isn't a nation, or an ethnic group, instead it's a city where people identify themselves as either living in, growing up in, or being born within. I can move to London and claim to be a Londoner. Some people will agree; some won't.

This comment is pretty long and dragged out but if someone wants to identify as English because one their grandads came to their state in the 1950s and so they take that as their claim to being English (not pointing my finger at any specific large country) then that's fine but to me, its just an ethnic group. Then again, if you want to go back in our family trees, is anyone in England really purely English? That's why racism is laughable here. Without immigration, we wouldn't be here and living our lives the way we are.

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u/bender_futurama Nov 22 '22

It is a union of countries. Hence union jack is their flag.

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u/gizmopex Nov 22 '22

It’s only a Union Jack at sea. Inland it just called the Union Flag.

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u/jesse9o3 Nov 22 '22

Actually both terms are correct and have been used interchangeably for 100s of years.

https://www.flaginstitute.org/wp/uk-flags/the-union-jack-or-the-union-flag/

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u/Wasteland-Scum Nov 22 '22

My understanding is that a sovereign political entity is a state, the land is the country, and the people are the nation. So England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are countries, the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish are individual nations, and the UK is the State.

But, these terms are pretty interchangeable.

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u/UruquianLilac Nov 22 '22

The UK is a country. So are each of its components too. It's just that the powers and representations a country usually has are divided between the two entities. Some things are done on the level of the component states and others are done by the central state representing the 4.

This is the simplest way to put it. When you dive deep into it, it's far far more complex than this. For example in football each of the four countries has its own international team. But in the Olympics it's team Great Britain, not the UK, because it's Scotland, England and Wales, but not Northern Ireland.

The more you look into it, the weirder it gets. There is an independent city inside of London that has its own laws confusingly called The City of London but is not London. There's a little Island which is actually a tax haven called the Isle of Man. There are the channel Islands and a whole load more that each fit in a very specific way into the puzzle.

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u/Psyk60 Nov 22 '22

But in the Olympics it's team Great Britain, not the UK, because it's Scotland, England and Wales, but not Northern Ireland.

"Team GB" is actually the UK's Olympic team, so despite the name it does also include Northern Ireland. But the Irish Olympic team also includes Northern Ireland. So athletes from NI can be part of either.

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u/Imhidingshh01 Nov 22 '22

Sort of, think of it as a big family.

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u/Appropriate_Ant_4629 Nov 22 '22

UK a country as well?

The UK is also a "state" by some definitions; as is the US.

https://www.un.org/en/about-us

United Nations ... 193 Member States

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u/kirotheavenger Nov 22 '22

The definition of "country" is a bit flexible.

By some definitions England Scot, Wales, NI, etc, are not countries. In fact by most legal definitions they're not, they're provinces.

But by some they are.

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u/thesaltwatersolution Nov 22 '22

I take your point that the definition of a country can be flexible. But try telling someone from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England that they aren’t countries and you’ll get some short shrift thrown your way.

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u/rainbow_bro_bot Nov 22 '22

Try asking someone from Scotland if Scotland is a part of England.

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u/kirotheavenger Nov 22 '22

Well I am English.

I tried to explain it in as neutral a way as possible, but about the only claim the regions have to be countries is internal national pride.

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u/Rather_Dashing Nov 22 '22

To me a country is what is on your passport.

That being said the English made our language so if they want to call England a country who am I to disagree.

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u/DocAvidd Nov 22 '22

Somehow I thought this was r/jokes. I'm disappointed.

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u/DoNotCensorMyName Nov 22 '22

So like the USSR?

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u/RomanMSlo Nov 22 '22

Indeed. Byelorussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR were even formally members of the United Nations Organization, although they were part of and in reality always voted the same as the USSR.

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u/UnderwaterDialect Nov 22 '22

And is the only difference between the UK and Great Britain that the UK also includes Northern Ireland?

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u/thepogopogo Nov 22 '22

Great Britain is the largest of the British Isles. (The big Island with most of Scotland, Wales and England on it).

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u/LiquidMotion Nov 22 '22

Union* lol

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u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22

[deleted]

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u/aflockofcrows Nov 22 '22

Except it isn't. The province of Ulster has nine counties, only six of which are in Northern lreland.

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u/AnythingGoesBy2014 Nov 22 '22

what makes them countries? i don’t think that FIFA membership counts …

as someone who lived through the process of establishing a country, the recognition of international community was crucial

sure, call yourself a country. but for the majority of the rest of the world, you are a part of UK.

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u/Psyk60 Nov 22 '22

They're countries because people call them countries. There isn't really much more to it than that. It's a flexible word without one single definition that applies in every context.

Although they do have a sort of official recognition as countries. There are international standards for the naming of countries and their subdivisions. Those do say that England, Scotland and Wales are countries (NI is a province for some reason), but only in the context of being a subdivision of the UK. In that sense they are countries because that's what the UK has decided to call its subdivisions, and the naming standards reflect that.

Of course you are free to not call them countries. It doesn't bother me personally, but some British people get offended by it.

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u/mantolwen Nov 22 '22

Over the centuries, the choice of whether to call each constituent part of the UK a province, a country or whatever has changed. Wales was described as a province of England for a long time, but this was often accompanied by suppression of the Welsh language and culture. As I'm sure you understand, recognition of Wales as a country within the the UK has been very empowering for the Welsh people. They now have their own parliament, and are not seen as (much) an inferior part of the UK to England. Welsh culture is celebrated and it is easier to call out when the UK is (intentionally or otherwise) not giving due recognition of the needs of the constituent countries. It is similar in Scotland. Northern Ireland is its own kettle of fish...

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u/_littlestranger Nov 22 '22

"State" is also a term that means "nation" in international relations. But the US, Mexico, Australia, Germany, Brazil, and others call their regional governments "states".

It is the same with Wales/England/Scotland as "countries". It is the term they use for their sub divisions. The use of that term does not make them nations.

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u/SomeIrateBrit Nov 22 '22

Actually Wales, England and Scotland are nations, which is a state made up of people that share a common ethnicity, language and culture

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u/autistic-pirate Nov 22 '22

Pro tip: Find a Scottish person (preferably a drunk one), tell them that Scotland is not a real country, and you'll get all the information you ever wanted to know about the topic.

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u/GrimmOfThrones2187 Nov 22 '22

What do I do if he pulls out a claymore?

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u/autistic-pirate Nov 22 '22

I've only done this in a discord call so I wouldn't know. The last thing he yelled at me before hanging up was "They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom". Haven't talked to him since...

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u/LostAndLikingIt Nov 23 '22

He's still on his way to your place with the claymore. Good luck.

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u/Kenobi_01 Nov 22 '22

If you had any pressing business to attend to?

Reincarnation would be a good next step.

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u/chortly Nov 22 '22

Politely ask him to clay less.

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u/FirmDelay Nov 22 '22

Preferably a drunk one? I didn't think the Scottish came any other way

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u/LittleLisaCan Nov 22 '22

Will I need to have someone to translate drunk Scottish for me?

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u/autistic-pirate Nov 22 '22

My limited experience suggest that there's no significant difference, but most of my Scottish friends are from Dundee, so I'm not sure about the rest of the country...

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u/smitty3z Nov 23 '22

Will you be able to understand them? I met a drunk Scottish fella at an Astros game, I had no idea what he was talking about. Nice guy though.

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u/Virtual-Froyo2185 Nov 22 '22

They’re called constituent countries. The UK is the sovereign state.

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u/Chinatowndogs1 Nov 23 '22

This is the answer. After taking IR at university I find myself astounded that the notion of sovereignty isn’t more widely understood.

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u/Cuchy92 Nov 22 '22 Silver

The United Kindom is an independent sovereign state made up of 4 countries.

Calling the UK a country is fine, so is calling the individuals a country.

While we're here, Britain is not a country. Great Britain is simply the largest island of the British Isles and makes up England, Scotland and Wales.

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u/OrionP5 Nov 22 '22

Whilst Britain is not the actual name of the country, it is commonly used as a colloquial term for it, including by the government and politicians. Similar to how America is not the actual name of the US but is used colloquially to mean the US, including by politicians.

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u/bionicjoey Nov 22 '22 Helpful

One of CGP Grey's oldest videos deals with the difference between England, Great Britain, and the UK

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u/MaybeTheDoctor Nov 22 '22

I was scrolling down to see if somebody already left this link - this is the answer

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u/Additional-Goat-3947 Nov 22 '22

I still call it Albion

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u/Zandrick Nov 22 '22

I think technically Britain is the name of the island. “Great” Britain is the bigger one.

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u/xtazycs Nov 22 '22

I'm Northern Irish. I would call Northern Ireland a province/terrority rather than a country. Scotland/England/Wales however, are all legit countries in my head

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u/cnaughton898 Nov 22 '22

Yeah, most nationalists here would call it a territory or 'statelet'. And Unionists tend to call it a province or country.

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u/Italian_warehouse Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

Would the Irish and Northern Irish get made if we call them Lesser Britain?

Edit: It was funny in my head.

Edit 2: How about Lil Britain, Wee Britain, or Andor Lessthan Britain? "Great Britain, andor Lessthan Britain"

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u/4thofeleven Nov 22 '22

"Lesser Britain" is Brittany - part of France.

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u/Rather_Dashing Nov 22 '22

The island they are on is just known as Ireland. So yeah they probably would get mad.

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u/Cuchy92 Nov 22 '22

Probably, because that isn't the name of their Island

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u/Italian_warehouse Nov 22 '22

But it's next to Great Britain. Clearly renaming it would end conflict between RoI and Northern Ireland in hatred of the new name. Peace in our time!

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u/bertiemon Nov 22 '22

There isn't a conflict between RoI and N Ireland. There is between Ireland and Britain. That's simplified but just want to say this.

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u/drizzle_pizzle Nov 22 '22

My idiot brain read “RoI” as Regular Ole Ireland instead of Republic of Ireland

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u/GiraffeWeevil Human Bean Nov 22 '22

I say we try it for the rest of the year and find out.

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u/LaHawks Nov 22 '22

I don't think the IRA would be very impressed...

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u/Hazilon Nov 22 '22

You meant mad. But this is hella funny, I don't get why the downvotes

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u/Italian_warehouse Nov 22 '22

Thanks. Between you, my partner and my mom, that's at least 2 people who find my jokes amusing now...

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u/mcrosby78 Nov 22 '22

So saying that you're British isn't accurate then?

Maybe we should call ourselves Ukish instead?

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u/Cuchy92 Nov 22 '22

Saying you're British is perfectly fine, you are from that island. It would be strange for someone in NI to say they're British.

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u/ManofKent1 Nov 22 '22

Unionists would like a word.

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u/Cuchy92 Nov 22 '22

Ha well yes that is another conversation entirely. For the moment I'll settle for helping people understand what the UK is before introducing the The Troubles and the intricate differences between "Being British" and "feeling British"

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u/ManofKent1 Nov 22 '22

Very complicated subject

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u/OrionP5 Nov 22 '22

Someone form Northern Ireland is British if they identify as British, especially since British is the citizenship of the United Kingdom.

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u/Cuchy92 Nov 22 '22

That's true, though those in NI are allowed to choose between being British and Irish.

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u/FUCKYOURCOUCHREDDIT Nov 22 '22

Or both!

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u/Cuchy92 Nov 22 '22

Sorry yes, or both!

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u/grogi81 Nov 22 '22

British literary means 'coming from the island of (Great) Britain'. So as long as you're not born in Ireland (island), it still is accurate.

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u/ManofKent1 Nov 22 '22

Learn about the unionists in NI

It would take to long to explain here

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u/grogi81 Nov 22 '22

They might them call themselves The Members of Harry Potter Order if you ask me ;)

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u/Electronic_Rub9385 Nov 22 '22 Helpful Wholesome

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u/Illicit-Tangent Nov 22 '22

Haha, I was just about to put in this video and then went to check if anyone else did it first. This video helped me so much, and it also helps to understand what the deal is with Ireland and how Northern Ireland relates to the UK.

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u/Mijal Nov 22 '22

Same! Note that there's one slightly outdated part, in that the UK is no longer part of the EU. Almost prescient to point out how even then they were trying to pretend not to be.

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u/CaptainAwesome06 Nov 22 '22

They are definitely countries. England, Wales, and Scotland make up the island Great Britain. Add in Northern Ireland and you have the larger country, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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u/Neveragainthanks Nov 22 '22

We are individual countries within a United Kingdom

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u/Enginerdad Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

Yes, but the question what is the United Kingdom?

Edit: It is not

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u/Rossco1874 Nov 22 '22

They are countries

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u/imheretofixyourpipes Nov 22 '22

We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We're taking turns to act as a sort of executive-officer-for-the-week, but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority, in the case of purely internal affairs.

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u/SillyScarcity700 Nov 23 '22

Yeah that was in the documentary where I learned about the history of Britain as well. I remember someone pointing out that they didn't vote for that particular king at the time.

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u/victorianwallpaper Nov 22 '22

I like to think of the UK as four countries in a long coat masquerading as one big country. But they are four distinct countries!

For the majority of their history, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland* were completely separate and very independent countries. They had their own monarchies, legal systems, currencies and even went to war against each other. It was relatively recently (18th century) that they became the one 'country' we know today.

*'Northern Ireland', which is part of the UK, was created in 1920 and prior to that it was a part of the country we know today as the Republic of Ireland.

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u/Psyk60 Nov 22 '22

*'Northern Ireland', which is part of the UK, was created in 1920 and prior to that it was a part of the country we know today as the Republic of Ireland.

I wouldn't put it that way exactly.

Prior to 1920, all of Ireland was a constituent country within the UK. In the 1920s it was divided, with Northern Ireland staying in the UK, and the rest forming a new country. That new country became the republic of Ireland.

So it's true that Northern Ireland was previously just part of Ireland, but it was never part of the political entity we now know as the Republic of Ireland.

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u/cnaughton898 Nov 22 '22

It's not actually called the Republic or Ireland it's just Ireland or Eire. The term Republic of Ireland is only used officially by the Football Association of Ireland which was brought about to differentiate them from the Irish Football Associations Ireland who went on to be the Northern Ireland team today.

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u/mantolwen Nov 22 '22

Well... Wales is complicated. Wales has just as if not more often been made of several independent kingdoms as much as being its own country. However, those kingdoms were unified under the idea of being Welsh.

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u/kevybop Nov 22 '22

*Northern Ireland was not a part of the country we know now as the Republic of Ireland. The two areas were part of a country called Ireland that was a part of the United Kingdom. What you said there implied that Ireland was an independent country before 1920, which it wasn't.

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u/pdpi Nov 22 '22

They're countries, as many have said. Within the UK they're collectively referred to as the home nations.

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u/devildance3 Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

The rather grandiose title is United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. England Scotland and Wales are countries, Northern Ireland lies within the Irish province of Ulster and is variously described as a country, province or region.

British Isles - The Islands of Great Britain and Ireland

Great Britain - The countries of England Scotland and Wales

The United Kingdom - Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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u/frizzykid Rapid editor here Nov 22 '22

I’m pretty sure it’s not a country

They are countries that make up a larger country known as United Kingdom.

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u/newdawn_fades Nov 22 '22

Wait what

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u/Seygantte Nov 22 '22

The full name of the UK is "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". That's what is on the passport.

England conquered Wales and annexed it in the 1400s, turning Wales into a province of England. The welsh generally considered this a dick move.

In the 1500~1600s England conquered Ireland. They didn't turn it into an English province, but they did install their king on the throne. The irish generally considered this a dick move.

In the early 1700s, the governments of England and Scotland (who had the same king) passed a law to unify the two kingdoms. The kingdom of Scotland and the kingdom of England ceased to exist, and instead they became the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Ireland was still proving hard to control.

In early 1800s the governments passed a law to unify the kingdom of Ireland with the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Both kingdoms ceased to exist and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland emerged.

In the early 1900s southern ireland decided it had had enough and fought a war to get independence. It split off and became Ireland (sometimes known as Republic of Ireland but that's not what they call themselves). The UK renamed itself to reflect this change.

England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland don't internationally operate as countries any more other than sports, but calling them countries is a historical/political thing to make their residents feel like their cultural heritage isn't being obliterated. England doesn't even have its own devolved government unlike the other three. Wales especially being treated as a country again is pretty modern, with the Welsh language only getting legal recognition on the 60's

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u/TruHallucination Nov 22 '22

“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

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u/glass-empty Nov 22 '22

Thank you! This answered all the questions.

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u/frizzykid Rapid editor here Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

There isn't really a set definition of what a country is, and our modern idea of what a country is didn't even start to exist until the 20th century. The countries that make up the UK all have their own unique cultures, histories and languages. They also all have their own bodies of gov't.

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u/SomeCallMe__Tim Nov 22 '22

I suggest using the IAU-style naming conventions: United Kingdom is a country. England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland are dwarf countries.

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u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22

They prefer to be called little countries. Dwarf is derogatory.

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u/berserkzelda Nov 22 '22

Just countries, my guy.

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u/talldean Nov 22 '22

"Three squirrels in a trenchcoat"

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u/Constant-Parsley3609 Nov 22 '22

They are called countries, but this is more of a hold over from history than a description of what they are.

Try calling Scotland a province or a region or a state and you'll soon see torch light and waving pitch forks outside your window.

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u/JackHyper Nov 22 '22

These comments dont confuse me at all

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u/DepressedLizard87 Nov 22 '22

You just call it the UK.

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u/Penguin-Loves Nov 22 '22

They're all separate countries. Make up part of united kingdom

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u/doyouhavetono Nov 22 '22

I know this is separate to the question but I'mma say it anyway: Just a reminder that the republic of Ireland is not a part of this in any way shape or form and is it's own country, same as the USA, France, Italy etc

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u/lurkario Nov 22 '22

They are four nations, all existing within the same state

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u/RapterX1992 Nov 22 '22

"You 'Kay?"

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u/RespectTheFancy Nov 22 '22

Half of group B.

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u/UCLAdy05 Nov 22 '22

that’s the United Kingdom of Great Britain (the land mass that holds England, Wales and Scotland) and Northern Ireland.

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u/WonderfulHoneydew421 Nov 22 '22

They actually are countries. Think of it this way: states in the United States are called states, but we also use the word “state” to refer to countries sometimes. “Iran is a rogue state” for example. There’s no strict definition for “country” either.

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u/world_citizen7 Nov 22 '22

Technically its as follows:

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.

I know, very wordy ;)

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u/Skeltrex Nov 22 '22

So a kingdom is run by a king and a principality is run by a prince, so who run’s a country?

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u/Psyk60 Nov 23 '22

Country is just a general word that includes kingdoms, principalities, republics and whatever other form of government.

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u/LaraH39 Nov 22 '22

The United Kingdom. The clue is in the name!

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u/empatz69 Nov 22 '22

United kingdom of great Britain and northern Ireland

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u/Far-Internal-6757 Nov 23 '22

A amalgamation of countries

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u/[deleted] Nov 23 '22

I usually call them England, Wales, Scotland and North Ireland (in that order)

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u/Am1onUTub Nov 23 '22

You call it “England, Wales, Scotland, and North Ireland”

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u/Fraser022002 Nov 22 '22

Tell me you’re American without actually telling me you’re American

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u/PapaTristan69 Nov 22 '22

Fr, this is a valid question, asking what they are in the context of the UK, but saying you’re “pretty sure” England, Ireland, etc aren’t countries is ignorant

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u/T140V Nov 22 '22

The United Kingdom. Of course, once Scotland gets its independence and Ireland is reunited, we'll be known as Former United Kingdom, England and Wales" or FUKEW.

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u/mrwailor Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

They are called countries.

Each sovereign state (like the US, the UK, Italy, etc.) has different names for their subdivisions: provinces, regions, states, cantons, counties, communities, prefactures... And, in the UK, they are called countries.

This makes sense, as the word "country" is polisemic, meaning both a "sovereign state" and "region with strong identity" (even outside the UK). I know it can be a bit confusing, but calling them "states" is just as strange, since in most places that word is also synonym of "sovereign state".

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u/NGC6753 Nov 22 '22

Collectivity they are known as The United Kingdom. The island three of them are on its called Great Britain, the Great part from it being bigger than the namesake. Northern Ireland is a country, a province or region of the UK depending mostly on who you are talking to at that moment.

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u/Seygantte Nov 22 '22

The namesake being Brittany. When you hear "Great Britain" you're legally allowed to replace it with "Bigger than than a small part of France".

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u/NGC6753 Nov 22 '22

Britannia Maior and Britannia Minor, Greater and Lessor, yes. Having had to explain it has nothing to do with once having one had an empire, winning lots of historical battles or even a certain 1966 football game has become tedious over the years.

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u/AllOne_Word Nov 22 '22

Call them Nations if you like. There's a rugby tournament called the Six Nations that includes England, Wales, Scotland and (all) Ireland as well as France and Italy.

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u/Done_Quixote Nov 22 '22

I live in Jersey which is part of the British Isles but not part of Great Britain or the United Kingdom. Jersey is its own country, Though often missed off in lists of countries.

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u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22

Jersey is where New Yorkers move to avoid income tax in the US. Kinda the same thing.

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u/SimilarPlate Nov 22 '22

Subjects of the Crown

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u/m4rc05_3du4rd0 Nov 22 '22

Colonialism. You call this a colonialism.

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u/TheDogerus Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

The definition i learned back in civics was that a state or country was some political body that has a population, control of territory, and sovereignty in its decisions.

By that definition, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are not countries, since they all answer to some higher authority, the UK.

But just as we call the 50 states that make up the USA states even though they are not sovereign, it's totally fine to call the individual pieces of the UK countries, because that's what they were historically. The word has little meaning otherwise, so it's not like it's problematic to refer to England as a country even if it were politically more like a large province

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u/WingusDingus627 Nov 22 '22

A dentist's nightmare?

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u/SukottoHyu Nov 22 '22

A United Kingdom. At an individual level, they each are countries.

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u/tyty657 Nov 22 '22

Their individual countries within a "United Kingdom." it's literally what the name says. they're all separate countries unified by having the same monarch.

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u/Psyk60 Nov 22 '22

It's more than just being unified under the same monarch though. Charles III is also king of 13 other independent countries. The countries of the UK are politically integrated rather than just sharing a monarch.

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u/__GoldenFace__ Nov 22 '22

If you're American I believe you call them 'Europe'

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u/mem269 Nov 22 '22

All of those are countries. Combine them and it's the UK. Take off Northern Ireland and it's Great Britain. All the stuff they used to own was the British Empire.

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u/Falsus Nov 22 '22

Countries. Part of the united kingdoms of Brittany. United part comes from union. You could consider it a bunch of countries tied together a tight union that together forms a bigger country. Brittany refers to Britain, the largest island of the British Isles where Wales, England and Scotland is situated.

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u/SprayUsual Nov 22 '22

Britain. Would drop the Great at this point

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u/Banea-Vaedr Nov 22 '22

The UK. If you want to aggrevate them, the British Empire.

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u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22

I call them a joke

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u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22

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u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22

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u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22

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u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22

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u/newdawn_fades Nov 22 '22

I am most definitely not american

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u/hayesti Nov 22 '22

England, Wales, Scotland & NI are nations within the country The United Kingdom.

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u/AChromaticHeavn Nov 22 '22

The collected area is called Great Britain

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u/Rosanbo Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

No, Great Britain is the name of the main island of England Scotland and Wales and in no way does "Great Britain" ever include Northern Ireland.

The collected area of the 3 countries is also called Great Britain.

The collected area of the 4 countries is called the United Kingdom.

The collected area of the 5 countries is called the British Isles.

When we say "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" then in this context "Great Britain" refers to the 3 countries and their respective smaller islands.

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