Great Britain is part of the sovereign state called the United Kingdom, and contains three of its four countries: England, Scotland, and Wales. England, the biggest part of the island, is in the southeast, and its capital city is London, which is also the capital of the United Kingdom. Scotland is to the north of England, and its capital is Edinburgh. Wales is to the west of England, and its capital is Cardiff.
Great Britain is not the name of the country itself. Many people call the UK 'England' or "Great Britain", and British people who do not live in these areas may not like it if other people make this mistake.
West of Great Britain is a smaller island called Ireland. Ireland contains the Republic of Ireland, which is a country in itself, as well as Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is not a part of the island of Great Britain, but it is part of the United Kingdom. This is why Great Britain is not the same as the United Kingdom, because Northern Ireland, which is one of its four constituent countries, is not part of Great Britain. Together with some other islands, Ireland and Great Britain form the British Isles.
Great Britain is the largest island of the United Kingdom. Politically, Great Britain means England, Scotland, and Wales in combination, but not Northern Ireland. It does include islands such as the Isle of Wight, Anglesey, the Isles of Scilly, the Hebrides, and the island groups of Orkney and Shetland.
Great Britain is usually represented using the same flag as the United Kingdom, the union jack. However, the island does not officially have a flag of its own.
The political union that joined the kingdoms of England and Scotland happened in 1707 when the Acts of Union ratified the 1706 Treaty of Union and merged the parliaments of the two nations, forming the Kingdom of Great Britain, which covered the entire island.
Before this, a personal union had existed between these two countries since the 1603 Union of the Crowns under James VI of Scotland and I of England. That union was called the Kingdom of Great Britain.
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