War Memorial in Inverness, Scotland

I have noticed one of the most stereotypically American mistakes to make is to think of England, Britain, and the United Kingdom as synonyms.  In the States, we tend to think of ourselves as more “United” than otherwise.  However, over here this isn’t necessarily the case.

Not long ago I was in Inverness, Scotland, which is very near to Culloden Battlefield.  It was at this location that the Jacobite Rebellion was crushed in 1746.  Following this date, the British government incorporated all of Scotland into Great Britain.  Although this battle was fought not long before the American Revolutionary War, in Scotland this battle is still discussed as if it happened just out of living memory.  This is hardly how the American Revolution is discussed in the United States.

Support for this topic of independence is far from limited to a few individuals.  Very recently the subject of Scotland breaking away and becoming an independent country has become a major issue.  Nor is this way of thinking present in only Scotland.  On Thursday, February 2nd the insert cover of The Guardian read, “Could Wales be next?”  Granted, most polling data shows the majority of residents in Scotland and Wales would prefer to remain part of the United Kingdom.  However, the topic of independence is certainly far from dead.

Map of the British Isles

To avoid confusion throughout the rest of my blogs, I thought it might be helpful to describe what some of the terms are referring to:

Britain – the name of the largest island

England – the southeast part of Britain (red)

Great Britain – the political union of England, Scotland, and Wales (red, orange, and blue)

The United Kingdom – includes Northern Ireland with Great Britain (red, orange, blue, and yellow)

British Isles – geographical (not political) name that includes independent Republic of Ireland

British Commonwealth – loose association of possessions and former colonies including Canada, Australia, and India that have a symbolic loyalty to the Crown

Union Jack and Loch Ness


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