[Gllug] RE: [Glut] Official country code for Britain = GB or UK?

Nix nix at esperi.demon.co.uk
Mon Apr 15 22:33:59 UTC 2002

On Mon, 15 Apr 2002, Pete Ryland stated:
> On Mon, Apr 15, 2002 at 12:54:33AM +0100, E. R. Vaughan wrote:
>> I am aware of this.  but I think we could lose the "Great" :) Thanks to
>> Bruce for clearing up where that came from though! What I meant was that
>> everyone just says "UK" now, when asked where they live on IRC etc...
> So what is England, then?  Is it not a country?  The Houses of Parliament in
> London (er, Westminster I mean) only govern England, right? [1]

No, they govern the-UK-and-Northern-Ireland; some powers are devolved to
subsidiary bodies, but that's reversible by the Commons, and nobody can
say otherwise if the Commons so decides (well, except the voters).

This is what `sovereign' means, sort of.

> But then why does it say "British" for nationality on my passport?  Does

AIUI, the nation is England; the nation-state (legal entity) is the UK,
`the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'; there is a
large subdivision of it called `Britain' or `Great Britain'; there are
other places besides there that are quasi-independent (the Isle of Man),
or are Crown Dependencies (the Falklands) or have the Queen as head of
state but little else (.ca, .au) or are in a toothless talking club by
virtue of having once been colonies (the Commonwealth).

I think that hierarchy is right. But it's mostly linguistic, not legal,
and hence really fuzzy.

> that make Britain (aka GB, aka England, Scotland, Wales and S.Ireland,

Er. S. Ireland?! I think there might be some disagreement here. :)

>                                                                 so, what the
> frig does that make UK?  Is it just a collection of friendly neighbouring
> countries (GB + N.Ireland + surrounding islands) or is it something more
> official? [2]

The UK is the legal entity with with signatures on treaties,
representation in the EU, a permanent seat on the Security Council, that
declares war as a body and so on. The fabric of international law
doesn't care about any of the fiddly subdivisions AIUI (which is not
well; I've barely paid any attention to international law, it's a
horrible tangled messy area).

> Any enlightenment appreciated,

Duly darkened with misinformation. :)

> [2] WordNet lists GB and UK as synonyms.  That's not right though is it?

If it was, we'd be having fewer problems with NI than we are.

`Unless they've moved it since I last checked, travelling between
 England and America does not involve crossing the equator.'
   --- pir

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