This outline map can be downloaded and painted.
Tip: Use a school atlas or the maps below!
THE BRITISH ISLES
Strictly speaking, 'Great Britain' is a geographical expression but 'The United Kingdom' is a political expression. Great Britain is in fact the biggest of the group of islands which lie between the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately two and a half times the size of Ireland, the second largest. Together they are called the British Isles. The expression originally described the islands themselves, not the political or national divisions within them.
The British Isles today are shared by two separate and independent states. The smaller of these is the Republic of Ireland, with its capital in Dublin. The larger, with London as its capital, is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This long title, (usually shortened to the United Kingdom or UK) is the result of a complicated history.
The island of Great Britain contains three 'nations' which were separate at earlier stages of their history: England, Scotland and Wales. Wales had become part of the English administrative system by the sixteenth century. Scotland was not completely united with England until 1707. The United Kingdom is a name which was introduced in 1801 when Great Britain became united with Ireland. When the Republic of Ireland became independent of London in 1922, the title was changed to its present form.
'Britain' and 'British' have two meanings. They sometimes refer to Great Britain alone, and sometimes to the UK including Northern Ireland. 'England' and 'English' are often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Great Britain.