I see so many visitors to the UK getting confused with the terms ‘England’, ‘Great Britain’ and the ‘United Kingdom,’ which are often (wrongly) used interchangeably. For those interested in trivia of this sort, here is an explanation of what each of these terms mean:
England excludes Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is an independent country and is excluded as well.
Great Britain is composed of England, Wales and Scotland
United Kingdom, the full form of which is the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,’ is composed of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It does not includes Crown Dependencies such as the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, namely Jersey and Guernsey.
Crown Dependencies are the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. They are self-governing, though the Head of State is the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth. The Crown is represented by a Lieutenant Governor. Though not part of the United Kingdom, foreign relations, defence, and ultimate good governance are the responsibility of the government of the United Kingdom. All three Crown Dependencies are tax havens and they are technically kept outside the UK so that they can offer low rates of taxation to its residents.
British Isles includes the entire United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and all three Crown Dependencies, namely the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.
British Islands refers to a geographic area. It includes the British Isles and the Republic of Ireland.
British Overseas Territories are territories such as Gibraltar, Bermudas, Falkland Islands, Cayman Islands etc. There are fourteen such territories. Until 2002, British Overseas Territories were called British Dependent Territories. Before that, they were called Crown Colonies. Just as in the case of the Crown Dependencies, the Head of State is the British monarch.