After London, Manchester is the largest city in England

United Kingdom or England? Understand the Difference!

United Kingdom or England? Certainly you have had this doubt in your head at some point in your life, right? Well, don’t worry. Confusing these two terms is far more common than you might think. But starting today, after you finish reading this text, you will never make that mistake again!

United Kingdom or England?

To sum it all up in a very direct way, England is a country and the United Kingdom is a sovereign state. But what does this mean in practice?

According to COUNTRYAAH, the United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a sovereign state formed by Northern Ireland and the countries of Great Britain, that is, Scotland, Wales and, of course, England! Britain, on the other hand, is simply an island. The Ireland has also been part of this kingdom, but became independent in 1949, after a series of conflicts with the British Army that left a toll of hundreds of dead and wounded.

So, for you to record once and for all:

  • England + Wales + Scotland = Great Britain
  • Great Britain + Northern Ireland = United Kingdom

What happens is that England has always been the most powerful of these countries, including the central branch of the monarchy and leading the process of world industrial revolution. So many people get confused and end up thinking that saying England is the same as saying United Kingdom.

These countries share many things in common, such as the official language (English), currency (pound sterling), the prime minister (Boris Johnson) and the head of state (Queen Elizabeth II). Each has its capital, but London functions as the capital not only of England, but also of the United Kingdom and Great Britain. In addition, each of these countries has its own prime minister. While Boris Johnson serves in this role representing the United Kingdom and England, the other three are represented by the following leaders:

  • Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon
  • Wales: Mark Drakeford
  • Northern Ireland: Arlene Foster

Now that you know the similarities between the 4 UK countries, understand a little more about the main differences between them:


With a population of almost 56 million, England is the most populous country in the United Kingdom. It is also the largest in total area (130,395 km²), in addition to being the richest, with a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of almost 3 trillion dollars! It is also the region’s leader in the HDI (Human Development Index), with a score of 0.940, on a scale that goes up to 1.

As we have already said, London is the capital of the country and the largest city in the United Kingdom, with a population of almost 10 million people (and just over 14 million in the metropolitan area). Other major cities in England are Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Bradford and Nottingham.

After London, Manchester is the largest city in England

England concentrates the main universities in the United Kingdom, including Oxford, Cambridge, University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London, which are in the TOP 10 of the best universities in the world at QS World University Rankings 2020, respectively in the 4th, 7th, 8th and 9th positions. Some other renowned institutions are the University of Manchester (27th position), King’s College London (33rd), the London School of Economics and Political Science (44th) and the University of Bristol (49th).


With just under 6 million inhabitants, Scotland is the second country in the region in population and area (78,772 km²). Its GDP is 192 billion dollars, a much more modest number than that of England, while its HDI is 0.901. In addition to English, Scottish Gaelic is also considered an official language.

The country’s capital is Edinburgh, a city with about 500 thousand inhabitants (794 thousand in the metropolitan area). However, the biggest city in the country, by a small difference, is Glasgow, with about 580 thousand people. The other most important cities in the country are Aberdeen and Dundee.

Edinburgh, capital of Scotland

The main Scottish higher education institutions are the University of Edinburgh (20th place in the QS ranking), the University of Glasgow (67th), the University of St. Andrews (100th) and the University of Aberdeen (194th).


Wales has a population of just over 3.1 million people and is the only one with an HDI below 0.9, more precisely 0.885. Regarding the economy, the country’s GDP is around US $ 79.4 billion. It is also much smaller in area, with 20,779 km².

Its capital and largest city is Cardiff, with just over 360 thousand inhabitants (more than 1 million in the metropolitan region). The other two largest cities are Swansea (239,000) and Newport (140,000).

Cardiff University (154th) and Aberystwyth University (484th) are the most important in the country. Regarding the language, in addition to English, Welsh is also an official language.

Cardiff is still a little-known city in the UK

Northern Ireland

Leaving the island of Great Britain we have Northern Ireland, which shares a smaller part of the island of Ireland with the country of the same name. While Ireland has an area of ​​70,273 km², Northern Ireland occupies an area of ​​13,843 km², being the smallest of the United Kingdom countries both in territory and in population, with around 1.8 million inhabitants. GDP is just over 64 billion dollars and the HDI is 0.923, higher than that of Wales and Scotland.

Its capital is Belfast, which with 340,000 residents (just under 700,000 in the metropolitan area), can be considered the only major city in the country. Other major cities, however, are Derry and Lisburn, both just under 300,000.

The main universities in the country are Queen’s University in Belfast (173rd) and the University of Ulster (601-650). In addition to English, the country has two more official languages: Irish Gaelic and Ulster Scots.

Belfast City Hall, the capital of Northern Ireland