I talk to a great many people in the USA and across the world and the one common factor is that virtually none of them have any idea about the British Isles, namely I frequently get asked which part of England is Wales !
A very good friend of mine in Arkansas prompted me to post this article due to the education being metered out to his son at their local school, namely he was being taught that England is Great Britain and Great Britain is England, after helping his son to complete his homework and correctly labelling the different parts of Great Britain his son’s homework was marked as WRONG!
When brought to the attention of the teacher my friend was told that in fact he was wrong and the teacher was right. Moreover that she had in fact been taught the same thing herself.
I personally find it alarming that teachers in the USA (at least in this case) are teaching subjects that they obviously have no idea about, OK UK geography is not of that much importance to American people but, if this is happening in one place, it is happening elsewhere as well.
If you look at the graphic you will see there are four distinct countries and only one of them is England.
Scotland, Wales and Ireland go way back into pre-history, Cardiff, the capital of Wales goes back to 4000bce whereas England is the new kid on the block.
The east of Britain was known as “Danelaw” and was occupied by vikings, the south west was known as Wessex otherwise “Kingdom of the West Saxons”, Saxons were a Germanic tribe.
So the entire “England” upto and including 1100 AD was settled by either Vikings or Germans, not a single Englishman in sight.
These invaders of various nationalities settled in Britain onwards from the early middle ages, leading to what are now known as the English.
The Welsh, Scottish and Irish were and still are, collectively known as Celts, there is also a certain amount of conjecture regarding this, in so much as the Celts who were originally from the continent and settled here in pre-historic times, interbred with the indigenous Britons.
So given all the information above you are now equipped to understand why a person from Wales, Scotland or Ireland can get a little upset when referred to as English, this is tantamount to an insult as you are saying that we are of mixed race/nationality with limited history and no real roots anywhere in the world, whereas in fact we are (apart from some dilution over the years) well established nations of indigenous peoples with a wealth of history that goes back to pre-historic times.
Here is an excellent video explaining the set up of the United Kingdom and the British isles.