I have just returned to the USA from a trip home to Manchester, now this is where my dilemma starts – is it Manchester – United Kingdom, Manchester – Great Britain, Manchester – England, or even Manchester – British Isles ?????? So I had to do some investigation to find out the origins of these different names for the same country, (plus it will help me next time l fill in my U.S. Customs form as l am never sure what to show in the box “Which country have you visited?”).
Let’s start with Great Britain, this is the term used for the island containing the nations of England, Scotland and Wales (Not Northern Ireland). Great Britain and not just Britain was officially used after King James I, who was also King James VI of Scotland, acceded to the throne of England and Wales in 1603, calling himself the King of Great Britain using the term so it is distinguished from Brittany in France. If you add England, Scotland, Wales and the province of Northern Ireland, then the correct official term changes to “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, or simply the United Kingdom. The use of the United Kingdom came into being in 1801 following the Irish Union with the rest of England, Scotland and Wales.
OK so that’s Great Britain and the United Kingdom dealt with, and the some fun facts about the individual countries will be shown later, so what about the term – The British Isles? This is a term used more loosely to describe the main island of Great Britain together with its associated islands (The Channel Islands and The Isle of Man). It has no legal significance. Speaking of the islands, did you know that the United Kingdom does not include the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands! These are direct dependencies of the British Crown, maintaining their own legislative, monetary and taxation systems. And the Isle of Man is not a member of the European Union (the Channel Islands are)…… The Isle of Man maintains free-trade agreements with the EU, but is not a member.
So have I answered my own question as to what term I used on my US Immigration form when returning into the USA from Manchester – well l can use either Great Britain or the United Kingdom (I Think??).
This past year really highlighted the UK in the eyes of the world with the hosting of the 2012 Olympics, it seemed to fuel everyone’s obsession with everything British, whether it was rock music, Harry Potter, the Royal Family, tea, football (Not soccer), or simply the lovely British accent. So here are some fun facts about the four countries that make up the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”:
There is nowhere in England that is more than 75 miles from the sea.
Did you know that chickens outnumber humans in England.
Windsor Castle is the largest royal home in the world.
London was the first city in the world to have an underground subway system.
William the Conqueror, who ruled England from 1066 to 1087, ordered everyone to be in their beds by 8pm.
Also from the start of his reign in 1066 until 1362, the official language of England was French!
There are over 35,000 people with the name John Smith in England.
The first fish and chip shop in England was opened by a Jewish immigrant in 1860.
You can fit 74 England’s into the Unites States of America.
Established in 1902, Ealing Studios in West London are the oldest continuously working film studios in the world.
Image of London
The best-known delicacy of Northern Ireland is the “Ulster Fry” which is full of high cholesterol items such as bacon, egg, sausage mushrooms, fried tomato, baked beans, black pudding and potato bread.
Although English is the most popular language in Northern Ireland, the Irish and Ulster Scots language are still prevalent in several pockets of the region. Interestingly, Chinese is the most widely spoken minority language in Northern Ireland!
The unfortunate ocean liner “Titanic” was built and launched from Belfast Harbor in Northern Ireland.
Almost 46% of the total population of Northern Ireland is under 30 years old.
A potato in Northern Ireland is called a “Pruttie”, a child is called a “wean”, and in a Belfast accent , Northern Ireland is pronounced Norn Iron….
Lough Neagh, at 151 square miles, is the largest freshwater lake in Northern Ireland, and in the United Kingdom.
The Giant’s Causeway is one of Northern Ireland most visited tourist attractions, It consists of over 40,000 unusual basalt columns, Irish folk lore says they were put there by the giant Finn McCool. Actually they are the result of volcanic activity.
Image of Belfast
Scotland has three officially recognized languages: English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic. In Gaelic, Scotland is called “Alba”.
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, though Edinburgh is its capital.
Some of Scotland’s most famous inventions: The TV, Telephone, Tyres, Penicillin, Tarmacadam, and the Waterproof Raincoat..
Scotland’s highest point, (also the highest in the whole of the UK) is Ben Nevis at 1,343 meters.
Scotland is well known all over the world for Whisky. It is very important to distinguish whisky from “Whiskey”. Which is made in the USA and Ireland.
As well as mainland Scotland, there are 787 islands off its coast..
The Bank of Scotland was founded in 1695, and is the oldest surviving bank in the UK. It was also the first bank in Europe to print its own banknotes.
Image of Edinburgh
Officially the Welsh and English language have equal status in Wales, and all signs are bilingual in both Welsh and English. According to the last census taken – over 20% of the population are fluent in Welsh.
March 1st in Wales is St David’s Day, the patron saint of Wales. It is celebrated by wearing a leek or daffodil. A Welsh tradition says that the person who saw the first flowering daffodil of Spring would be blessed with more gold than silver during the coming year.
Wales has the youngest Capital city in Europe – Cardiff. It was pronounced as the capital in 1955, before this there was no capital, Wales was just a Principality of Europe.
Wales in the Welsh language is “Cymru”, and the letters K, Q, V and Z do not appear in the Welsh language.
Mount Everest was named after Welshman Sir George Everest..
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch is the name of a town in North Wales which translates as “The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave”. It is believed to be the longest place name in the world.
The population of sheep in Wales is four times greater than the Welsh population of humans.
Image of Cardiff
So there you have it, the origins of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, and some fun facts about each of the four countries within it. Have to be honest, will still ponder what to write on my next immigration form, when entering the USA from England/Great Britain/ United Kingdom………etc, etc.