What is England?

Or, for that matter, what are Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland?

I know that the country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I know that Great Britain is the island than contains England, Wales, and Scotland. But what are they? They can’t be countries because they’re part of a country. So what do you call them?

England is a country, but not a sovereign state.

What is England?

This is England

There’s a difference?


Somewhat helpful Venn diagram

“England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are political subdivisions of the UK”

Here is a popular youtube clip that answers your question.

Whatever it is, it’s neither madness nor Sparta.

I think so. Puerto Rico is widely spoken of in terms of being a country, but it is not sovereign. Puerto Rico is considered to have a culture distinct from the mainland US, but no country has a Puerto Rican embassy and there is no such thing as a Puerto Rican visa.

They are KINGDOMS which are UNITED.

England, Scotland and Great Britain used to be kingdoms, but are no longer. Wales and Northern Ireland never were kingdoms – though Ireland was one. These days, the United Kingdom is just one kingdom.

The problem is that the word ‘country’ has multiple definitions, some of which stipulate sovereignty and some which don’t. If you insist that a country has to be sovereign, then England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, etc. are all parts of a single country named the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Contrariwise, if you don’t so insist, then England is indisputably a country which is not a sovereign state, but that doesn’t go for all of the various distinguishable regions which together comprise the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. For example, the Isle of Man is not a country and it is not part of any of the countries I’ve named, except to the extent it is also not sovereign and is effectively ruled by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and if that makes no sense to you, well, governments don’t need to make sense, they just need to make laws.

That is only mostly true. Northern Ireland is more or less (mostly less, though borders shifted a lot and we’re not 100% clear on where they all were) on top of the territory of the early medieval kingdom of Ulster, though Northern Ireland isn’t really a successor state except in the most roundabout way possible. There were a couple of individuals, e.g. Hywel Dda, who claimed kingship over Wales, during which time it was by definition a kingdom. But in the couple of centuries before conquest and ever since, Wales is a principality rather than a kingdom.

Wales certainly was a kingdom.

It wasn’t by the time the U.K. was formed.

Now, northern Ireland, I had thought that it only became politically subdivided from the rest of IReland because of English rule. I would have thought that in the time of Irish Kings it would have been all of Ireland.

Can you prove what you say and fight my ignorance?

Ulster is one of the four (or five, depending on how you count Dublin) provinces of Ireland, and consists of nine counties. Six of those nine counties collectively form Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, while the remaining three are part of the Republic of Ireland. Meanwhile, there are those who consider all four provinces of Ireland (the entire island) to comprise a single country, in the same sense that England can be considered a country, regardless of the fact that that country is divided between two sovereign nations.

Staff Report by Dex: What’s the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England?

A commonly used phrase for them is constituent country.

Isn’t it currently a principality?

In international law and relations, Scotland, and England are sub national entities meaning they are the sub divisions of a nation state. Now the difference between a nation state and a sub national entity and the various attributes are not exactly clear and have varied over time, but a nation state has by modern acceptance de jure exclusivity over the right to employ lethal force, the exclusive power to conduct foreign relations and have ultimate control over the movement of goods, persons and services from without its borders. The term nation state often overlaps with country but the two are NOT synonymous.

In the UK’s case, the nation state is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is a nation state which exits on the Island of Great Britain and also controls about a fifth of the territory of the Island of Ireland. The formation of this nation state began in 1707, when the previously independent kingdoms of England (which included due to earlier conquest; Wales) and Scotland joined together to form the Kingdom of Great Britain which in 1800 formed with the Kingdom of Ireland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland which lost in 1922 most of the territory of the former Kingdom of Ireland and was in 1927 renamed as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and *Northern *Ireland.

Due to the historical accident of being formed by two erstwhile independent nation states, the primary sub divisions of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are often called countries or “Home Nations”. However, it is the UK embassy and the UK Government which deals with foreign relations and trade and its the UK Armed forces not the English Army or the Scottish Navy or the Welsh Airforce or the Northern Irish Marines.

Yes. Its “prince” is regularly appointed by the heir to the thrones of Scotland and England, now conveniently combined as the King or Queen of the United Kingdom. The last hereditary prince was beheaded by the forces of Edward I in 1282. Welsh Wikipedia has a nice list of the native princes of Wales, all six of them. For the most part, the medieval rulers of Wales were “kings” of postage-stamp-sized kingdoms like Seisyllwg or Powys Wenwynwyn.