Great Britain vs. U.K.: What's the difference? Here's an easy breakdown.

If you're an American who's not so sure what the difference is between Great Britain, the United Kingdom, and England, you're not alone.

During his recent trip to London, President Donald Trump showed he isn't exactly up to speed on the terminology either. In an interview with Piers Morgan, Trump was asked about the incentive for the United States to work out a trade agreement with the United Kingdom, Trump stumbled a bit:

"We would make a great deal with the United Kingdom because they have product that we like. I mean they have a lot of great product. They make phenomenal things, you know, and you have different names — you can say 'England,' you can say 'U.K.,' you can say 'United Kingdom' so many different — you know you have, you have so many different names — Great Britain. I always say: 'Which one do you prefer? Great Britain? You understand what I’m saying?'"

When Morgan stepped in to note that Great Britain and the U.K. weren't exactly the same, Trump said, "Right, yeah. You know I know, but a lot of people don't know that. But you have lots of different names."


A look at the British Isles.

He's probably right about that last part, and to be totally real, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. Should you find yourself in a situation where that kind of knowledge is useful, here's a quick guide.

There's a lot of overlap between the British Isles, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom. For instance, England is part of all three groups, and all that overlap can make it a little tricky to remember the distinctions. (Full disclosure: I wasn't personally up to speed on this until just a few years ago so don't feel bad if you're not either.)

The British Isles

The British Isles aren't a country or political alliance. This is just a geographic term used to describe England, Wales, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the small islands spread out along the coasts. There probably aren't too many contexts where you'll need to use this term, but it's good to know.

The British Isles.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is a sovereign state made up of four separate countries: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Until 1922, the Republic of Ireland was also part of the United Kingdom. London is the capital of the United Kingdom. The area's formal name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Knowing this, it's pretty easy to guess what Great Britain is...

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Each of the four individual countries has its own flag.

From top left, clockwise: Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales.

But together, they're all represented under the Union Jack.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The flag combines elements of the English, Northern Irish, and Scottish flags. It's also known as the Union Jack.

Great Britain

Great Britain is the United Kingdom without Northern Ireland. It's made up of England, Wales, and Scotland. One way to remember the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain is that the United Kingdom unites two separate islands, whereas Great Britain is all part of one basic landmass. It's important not to use Great Britain and the United Kingdom interchangeably for a number of political reasons.

Great Britain.

This all probably seems pretty silly, but these are questions that do come up from time to time. Now, odds are that none of us are ever going to find ourselves in the position of being the President of the United States asked in an interview about this, but you never really know when you'll end up in an "Oh man, what's the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain?" pickle. For those moments, feel free to bookmark this page.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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