If you’re moving to London and still trying to figure out what the difference is between England, Great Britain, and the UK, I’m finally following up on my recent post, “Relocation UK: The Lazy Expat’s Way to Understand United Kingdom vs. Great Britain, etc.” Those three names are NOT synonymous with one another. If you want just a quick primer that will literally help you understand at a glance (for you visual learners out there), I recommend checking out that post. Or, uh, you know, I guess you could just look at the Venn Diagram to the right here. Your call. As for today, I’ll be elaborating a bit more on how these boundaries and groupings have come about. It wasn’t just for the sole purpose of confusing us expats. 😉 Let’s start with Ireland. It’s possible that some folks are not aware that the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are indeed separate countries (at least my teenage students sure weren’t when I taught them about The Troubles!). In brief, with the British (and generally Protestant) citizenry that settled in the north of Ireland came an allegiance to the British government and desire to remain allied with it—to which the Irish (and generally Catholic) in the south protested, desiring to be an independent nation.
That was granted in 1922 to create what is now the Republic of Ireland, which is no longer part of the UK. However, the two sides continued to battle it out in what officially became Northern Ireland, leading to the conflict known as “The Troubles” (if you educate yourself further on this conflict, you’ll never listen to U2’s “Bloody Sunday” the same way ever again). Because NorthernIreland wanted to stay tied to Great Britain, it remained as part of the grouping now known the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a.k.a. the “UK.” And just so you know, not even “Great Britain” and “Britain” are the same thing—Britain, minus the “Great,” denotes only England and Wales, the territories that the Romans once conquered and named “Britannia” to coincide with their French territory of Brittany. Everyone who lives in the UK, however (as it’s been defined), can be called “British” despite their different nationalities. I cut this off here and continue in another post with more explanation of how the UK came to be, a story essentially told through its flag, the Union Jack. I’m devoting tomorrow to Bastille Day, though, to honor the French holiday, so stay tuned for the sequel to this post on Friday. In the meantime, hope this already helps clarify the destination of your international relocation, just like our London Relocation agents will clarify London itself (especially its property market) in finding you a fabulous London apartment to rent.