Just How Great is Britain?

The magic starts with the astonishing difference between the geographical size of England and her real size. She is just pretending to be so small.

JB Priestley

You might be forgiven for thinking that Britain, or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to give it its full name, is a fairly small country, compared with, say, France or Germany. It’s true that the home countries of the UK don’t add up to much – about 94,000 square miles, less half the size of metropolitan France (213,000 square miles). England, the largest of the home nations, covers only 50,000 square miles.

But there is more to Britain than meets the eye.

While France’s overseas territories bring that country’s sovereign territory to a respectable 260,000 square miles, Britain has held on to a much larger piece of the old imperial pie. Britain’s overseas territories amount to around 667,000 square miles – an area of land a little larger than Iran. In total British sovereign territory is more than 761,000 miles. In other words London still rules over an area about the size of Mexico, more real estate than any European capital apart from Moscow. England accounts for less than 1/15 of the total surface area.

And where is the rest of it? Mostly in Antarctica, tucked out of sight at the bottom of the map. Clever, eh?

Britain has also hidden a great deal of the world’s financial system in its warmer overseas territories, but that’s another story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s