The UK, an abbreviation for the United Kingdom, is not a country but rather a term used to describe a collection of countries. The United Kingdom is a term that refers to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Independently, each country that makes up the United Kingdom exists as its own country, but collectively, they join to form the UK.
Although similar, the terms the United Kingdom and Great Britain refer to different areas. The United Kingdom includes all of England, Scotland, Wales, and the Northern portion of Ireland. Great Britain, comparatively, only refers to the countries that are connected together. Great Britain refers to England, Wales, and Scotland but does not include Northern Ireland as part of the designation.
Another term that is often used to describe the area around England is the British Isles. The British Isles is more of a geographical description than a political description to describe the landmasses surrounding England. The British Isles include the main landmass, including England, Scotland, and Wales, and include Ireland, both the Northern and Southern countries. In addition, the term the British Isles refers to the nearly 5,000m smaller islands that exist around the main landmass.
The United Kingdom is composed of four different, unique, and independent countries. These countries can govern and function independently but usually choose to follow the laws and regulations set out for the entire region. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland make up the United Kingdom.
England is the largest country in the United Kingdom and is home to major cities like London and Manchester. Nearly 85% of the entire United Kingdom population resides in England. This country is not only the biggest in the United Kingdom, but it is also the most southern country.
The small country of Wales sits on the western coast of the main landmass, including England and Scotland. Although this small country is part of the UK and primarily speaks English, they also have their own language, Welsh, largely spoken throughout the country.
Scotland resides to the north of England and makes up about a third of the total landmass of the United Kingdom. Although this is a large area, it is not densely populated due to the rugged terrain found in the northern part of the country. The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh.
The last remaining country that makes up the United Kingdom is Northern Ireland, which is the northern part of Ireland. Following a split in 1922, only the Northern portion of Ireland is included in the United Kingdom. The lower, southern portion of Ireland is ruled as its own independent country, completely separate from the United Kingdom as a whole.
The United Kingdom is a political entity that is not a single country but rather four countries combined. The United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Although the four countries are bound together, and to the Royal Crown, they all have their own identity. They are very much considered separate countries, especially by the local inhabitants. Between 1801 and 1922, the United Kingdom contained all of Ireland, but with the creation of The Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom now only includes Northern Ireland.
Comparatively, the term Great Britain also refers to several countries included in the United Kingdom. Great Britain is usually used to refer to the countries that make up the main island of the United Kingdom. England, Scotland, and Wales are all part of Great Britain. Because Northern Ireland is on a different island, it is not part of Great Britain but is still part of the United Kingdom.
Within the United Kingdom, there are four separate countries. England is the largest and most populated country, with 84% of the United Kingdom's population. London is the largest city in England, but Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool are other large cities. Scotland lies to the north of England. Edinburgh is the country's capital. To the far west of Great Britain, Wales is the smallest country on the main island, and its capital is Cardiff. Northern Ireland's capital is Belfast.