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A Quick Geography Lesson On The British Isles

by John Asante
Feb 1, 2011

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John Asante

At times, I like to think that aside from grammar, geography is another grade school trade I tend to correct people on when the time is right. I get uneasy when a friend accidentally refers to Africa as a country and not "a continent with many countries, or nations." For the most part, I can place a country with its region without a problem.

But when it comes to our neighbors from across the pond, I get a bit tongue-tied. I distinctly remember an assignment I had as an intern where I had to search for and call up Muhammad Ali's Irish relatives — a long and fascinating story for another day. In my head, I knew that Ireland was "over there near England," but do I call it "part of the UK or Great Britain"? I called up my cousin who lives in South London. For once, he was actually of great help.

Ok, but what about all those islands (or archipelago) with the Union Jack adorned on their flags? How do they fit in? Luckily, I stumbled upon this explainer.

Did you have any idea that Canada is technically a Commonwealth Realm...or that the Bermuda is technically a Crown colony? Right. Neither did I.

And for your information, I'm going to visit my cousin in September. I can't wait to be in all three (the United Kingdom, Britain, and Great Britain) places at the same time.

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