The British Isles is the name for a collection of about 4,000 islands, including Great Britain and Ireland. The name, the British Isles, is usually only seen on maps.
Great Britain, known as Britain, or GB, is the name for the largest of the islands. It includes England, Scotland and Wales, but it does not include Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. You see the abbreviation GB on driving licences of people who live in England, Scotland and Wales.
The United Kingdom, or the UK, is a political term, which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. All of these countries are represented in Parliament in London and the abbreviation UK is used on most official documents produced by Parliament. Now Scotland and Wales have their own local parliaments, with power to make decisions about their countries.
Everybody from the UK is British, but be careful: only people from England are English. People from Wales think of themselves as Welsh; people from Scotland as Scottish; people from Northern Ireland as either British or Irish.
a Try and draw a map of the British Isles from memory.
b Compare your map with a map of the British Isles.
True or false? Correct the sentences that are false.
a If you hold a British passport, you are from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
b Someone from Scotland can represent GB in the Olympic Games.
Look at the map of the British Isles. True or false? Correct the sentences that are false.
a The capital of Wales is Swansea.
b The capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast.
c It is more mountainous in the south than in the north of Britain.
d The highest mountain in England is Ben Nevis.
e The river which runs through Oxford and London is the Thames.
Copy and complete the sentences.
a London is in the ...-east of Britain.
b Birmingham is ... of London, in a part of Britain called the Midlands.
c Bristol is in the ...-west of Britain.
Michael Vaughan-Rees, Geraldine Sweeney, Picot Cassidy: In Britain; Cornelsen Verlag, 2000, page 4