What is the difference between the UK, England, and Great Britain?

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People often use the names the UK, Great Britain and England for each other, much to the ire of the natives. Sometimes the name England is used to refer to whole of the UK or the Great Britain. This can be offending to the people of Wales and Scotland since there is significant geographical and cultural difference among the three regions.
The major difference among the UK, the Great Britain and England is that the first one is a sovereign state, the second one is an island and the last one is a part of an island.
The United Kingdom is an independent country, its capital is London. The official name of the country is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It consists of the island of Great Britain and the north portion of the island of Ireland. The rest of the island of Ireland is another independent country.
The Great Britain, also called Britain, is the name for the island that constitutes a major part of the United Kingdom. With and area of 209,331 sq km, it lies northwest to France and east to Ireland. The Great Britain is called so because it is the largest island of the British Isles, which also include the island of Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Isles of Scilly, The Channel Islands and 6,000 other smaller islands.
The Great Britain is composed of three autonomous regions; Wales, Scotland and England. Wales occupies the southwest portion of the island, while England is in the southeast, and Scotland is in the north. England is the largest of the three regions in terms of area and population. These regions differ in their culture and lifestyle, and have some autonomy regarding to their internal governance.
These lands were all independent long ago. The Kingdom of England had been established by the Anglo-Saxons before 10th century. In 1536, King Henry VIII enacted a bill that united Wales with the Kingdom of England. In 1603, the Scottish king James VI inherited the English throne from Elizabeth I. In 1707, the Act of union was passed by the Scottish and English parliaments to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801, the Irish parliament also decided to join the kingdom, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. However, the southern colonies of Ireland withdrew from the union and declared independence in 1922, forming the Iris Free State. The kingdom underwent another name change, becoming United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is the United Kingdom that remains today.

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