For the state of which it is part, see United Kingdom.For the historical state, see Kingdom of Great Britain.For other uses, see Great Britain (disambiguation) and Britain (disambiguation).

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Politically, the island is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, constituting most of its territory.

Most of England, Scotland, and Wales are on the island, with their respective capital cities - London, Edinburgh, and Cardiff.

The term Great Britain often extends to include surrounding islands that form part of England, Scotland, and Wales.

A single Kingdom of Great Britain resulted from the Union of Scotland and England (which already comprised the present-day countries of England and Wales) in 1707.

The oldest mention of terms related to Great Britain was by Aristotle (c.

384–322 BC), or possibly by Pseudo-Aristotle, in his text On the Universe, Vol. To quote his works, "There are two very large islands in it, called the British Isles, Albion and Ierne". AD 23–79) in his Natural History records of Great Britain: "Its former name was Albion; but at a later period, all the islands, of which we shall just now briefly make mention, were included under the name of 'Britanniæ.'" The Greco-Egyptian scientist Claudius Ptolemy distinguished great Britain (μεγάλης Βρεττανίας - megális Brettanias) from neighbouring Ireland as little Britain (μικρής Βρεττανίας - mikris Brettanias) in his work Almagest (147–148 AD).

The name Britain descends from the Latin name for Britain, Britannia or Brittānia, the land of the Britons.

More than a hundred years before, in 1603, King James VI, King of Scots, had inherited the throne of England, but it was not until 1707 that the Parliaments of the two countries agreed to form a political union.

In 1801, Great Britain united with the neighbouring Kingdom of Ireland, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which was renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the Irish Free State seceded in 1922.

The archipelago has been referred to by a single name for over 2000 years: the term British Isles derives from terms used by classical geographers to describe this island group.

By 50 BC Greek geographers were using equivalents of Prettanikē as a collective name for the British Isles.) or insula Albionum, from either the Latin albus meaning white (referring to the white cliffs of Dover, the first view of Britain from the continent) or the "island of the Albiones", first mentioned in the Massaliote Periplus in the 6th century BC, and by Pytheas.