British Isles

British Isles is a common name for a port situated in north-western Europe archipelago. The islands are part of Great Britain, Ireland, the Hebrides, Shetland, Orkney, Man, the Isles of Scilly and Wight.

The term British Islands has political, historical and cultural reasons, only a low selectivity. So on the one hand politically controversial, whether the island of Ireland should be added to the British Isles, although it is geographically part of the archipelago. On the other hand, the English Channel situated in the Channel Islands which are geographically attributed to the European mainland, counted for political reasons to the British Isles.

The history of the term British Isles seems to reach back to a name pretanische Islands from antiquity, although this term did not enjoy special fluency. The re-introduction of the concept was not least in the context of territorial expansionism of the English, and the British crown.

Including Ireland and the Channel Islands without the archipelago comprises 6,000 islands with a total area of ​​315,134 km ².


The British Isles are surrounded by the North Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic. The Irish Sea is located along with the St. George's Channel and the North Channel between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain.

Political significance

The inclusion of Ireland in the British Isles is controversial, as this provides many Irish and partly also by the Irish Government 's view, the sovereignty of the Republic of Ireland in question with regard to Ireland's historical and cultural identity is a misleading term.

This is justified, inter alia, with the similarity of the names British Isles and Great Britain. The similarity is not surprising, since the name of the islands derives from the name yes its largest island. In addition, the State United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is often colloquially referred to as the UK, what a complete state membership of the British Isles to the United Kingdom at least does not contradict.

In Ireland, hence the term British Isles and Ireland or Great Britain and Ireland (English Britain and Ireland ) has become the norm.

The growing fluency latter term raises the question whether an archipelago designation as such is at all relevant. For example, no Archipelago name is familiar in the case of Corsica and Sardinia.

Rule formation in the territory of the British Isles

  • High Kingship of Ireland to 1169
  • British tribes, to about 70
  • Pictland, to the 9th century
  • Roman Britannia, 43 to about 410
  • Independent British and Welsh principalities, from the 5th century to 1283
  • Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, 5th century to 10th century
  • Kingdom of Scotland, 843-1651 and 1660-1707
  • Kingdom of England, 774-1536
  • Lordship of Ireland 1171-1541
  • Principality of Wales, 1267-1542
  • Kingdom England and Wales, 1536-1649 and 1660-1707
  • Kingdom of Ireland, 1541-1649 and 1660-1800
  • Commonwealth and free State of England, Wales and Ireland, 1649-1654
  • Commonwealth of Great Britain and Ireland, 1654-1660
  • Kingdom of Great Britain, 1707-1800
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 1801-1922
  • Irish Free State / Republic of Ireland, since 1922
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, since 1922