A Little Geography
Where Exactly Are You Going?
You are going to a number of places, all of which are, paradoxically, the same. Essentially, you are going to southern England, but where is that? Which country is it in? Well, it is in the following countries; the United Kingdom, Great Britain, the British Isles, Britain, the U.K., and well, just outside of London in the English Countryside. Confused? Don’t be. It always amazes me just how many Americans think that London is all there is to Britain.
You are going to a nation that is a collection of countries, principalities, duchies, ancient kingdoms and islands. The collective name for it all is either the United Kingdom, Great Britain, Britain or the British Isles. It is probably more widely known nowadays as the United Kingdom, or the U.K., or Britain, and will be referred to as Britain throughout the rest of these writings, for simplicity’s sake.
Britain is made up of the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, also known as Ulster. The southern part of Ireland, which forms the majority of the island’s land mass, is also known as Eire, and is a separate country altogether, which is not part of Britain. Eire has its own government and uses the Euro as its currency.
Ulster, although under the umbrella of Britain (hence all the previous troubles), has its own legislative assembly. The capital of Ulster is Belfast. Scotland, too, has seen some measure of self government during the last decade, and now has its own parliament. Its capital is Edinburgh. Wales also in recent years has had its own legislative assembly; however, it’s not actually a country, but a principality (hence, the prince, or male heir to the [English] throne is traditionally appointed as the ‘Prince of Wales’). The capital of Wales is Cardiff.
Lastly, of course, there is England, whose capital is London. The Parliament in London is the supreme legislative body for Britain as a whole. There are also a number of islands around the coast, the most widely known are the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. These particular island states also have, more or less, complete self rule, and are more British protectorates than anything else. They are also tax havens.
So, southern England is in the country of England, which is a part of Britain. Britain, as well as Eire, are also part of Europe and the European Union, a collection of about twenty seven European countries that have established some degree of political, commercial and financial integration.