The British Isles is a term that refers to not just the Islands of Great Britain and Ireland, but to many smaller groups of islands, as well as the three British Crown Dependencies of The Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey.
On the map to the left, the island of Great Britain is the largest island, containing England, Scotland and Wales, making up the majority of the United Kingdom. To the left of Britain is Ireland, split into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The two islands are the largest in Europe, and Great Britain is the 9th largest island in the world.
Around the top of Great Britain are the Scottish Islands, with the Western Isles out to the left, and the Shetland/Orkney Islands directly above. Just off the coast of the far South-West of England are the Isles of Scilly, close to Cornwall.
The Isle of Man is pictured between Great Britain and Ireland, and whilst it, along with the Channel Islands shown in the inset off the coast of France, are not part of the UK they are properties of the British Crown and self governing.
The history of the British Isles goes back over 2 1/2 million years, with the oldest parts being the North West of Scotland and Ireland. They were once joined with Europe through a continental shelf however as the ice melted and sea levels rose the Islands became cut off. The first was Ireland around 12,000 BC. Ireland wouldn’t be inhabited then until 8000 BC, and Britain followed in 5600 when it too became an island. The first major settlements in Great Britain were the Romans by AD 43, and by the 5th century they gave way to the Anglo-Saxons who formed much of England, followed by the Normans in 1066.
The geography of the Islands vary greatly, as the South of England is very flat, with both Wales and Scotland having highlands in the north of the countries, as well as being very hilly generally. In England the further North you progress the higher the land gets, as well as the Lake District being very mountainous.
The highest points in each country are:
England – Scafell Pike, the Lake District
Ireland – Carrauntoohil
Northern Ireland – (Slieve Donnard)
Scotland – Ben Nevis (highest overall)
Wales – Mount Snowdon
The islands have many different types of flora and fauna, as well as an abundance of wildlife. From Squirrels to Hedgehogs, there are many indigenous species, including the Highland Cows in Scotland and many maritime species off the coasts of all the British Countries, including Wales and Dolphins, which can sometimes be seen in the Firth of Tay in Dundee.
You can use the United Kingdom drop down menu on the top bar to navigate through England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to all the places we have been, which all have posts, and you can use the sub menus under the British Isles tab to navigate through the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, again with links to posts for places we have visited there.