Glasgow: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Glasgow.

  • Glasgow is Scotland‘s largest city with a population of approximately 600,000. The city is located on the banks of the River Clyde, about 80 km from Edinburgh.
  • It was founded in the 6th century and grew in importance as a trading port. In the 12th century, the city was granted permission to hold a fair, which still takes place every year.

  • Glasgow’s underground railway system is the only one in Scotland, and the 3rd oldest in the world. It is sometimes nicknamed the Clockwork Orange, because of the colour of the trains.
  • During the 18th and 19th centuries, Glasgow became one of the world’s largest and busiest ports. By the late 18th century, over half of the tobacco trade in Britain was centred on the city.
  • One of the city’s most famous residents was the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. He designed many buildings in the city, including the Glasgow School of Art.
  • Glasgow was designated European City of Culture in 1990 and is home to over 100 cultural and artistic organizations. The Scottish Ballet, Opera and Symphony Orchestra are all based here.
  • Glasgow had its own police force in 1789, 40 years before London’s force was established. The Boys’ Brigade movement was also started in the city in 1883 by William Smith.
  • Some notable streets and landmarks include George Square, Sauciehall Street and Argyle Street. Neighbourhoods include the West End with its shops, restaurants and hotels, and the Merchant Quarter.
  • The first international football match between Scotland and England was played in Glasgow in 1872. Glasgow Celtic football club was formed in 1888 and so named because of the many Irish residents.
  • There are over 20 towns named Glasgow in the US, as well as several in Canada, including New Glasgow. Glasgow is twinned with several cities, including Jerusalem, Marseilles and Havana.

What is the difference between England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom and the British Isles?

Although each of the the terms (England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, British Isles) has a specific meaning, the terms are not always strictly applied. Many people who live in the British Isles do not use the terms correctly, and it can get quite confusing.

Let’s look at the terms in more detail.

The British Isles

The British Isles refers to the group of islands to the north-west of continental Europe. This island group includes the island of Great Britain (made up of England, Scotland and Wales), the island called Ireland (made up of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands (Guernsey and Jersey).

United Kingdom (UK)

Officially known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the UK is made up of the island of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland. It does not include the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Great Britain (or Britain)

Great Britain is the largest island of the British Isles, and when combined with Northern Ireland, it makes up the United Kingdom. Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the Acts of Union which brought together England and Scotland.

England+Scotland+Wales = Great Britain.


England is located on the island known as Great Britain. It shares borders with Wales and Scotland. It is part of the United Kingdom (along with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

Confusing Points

  • Many people believe that Britain and the United Kingdom are one and the same. They are using Britain as a short version of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, rather than a short version of Great Britain.
  • People from the United Kingdom are referred to as British or Brits.
  • GB or GBR are used as country codes for the United Kingdom.
  • The UK Olympic team (including athletes from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) was called Team GB and not Team UK.
  • If you ask someone from England what their nationality is, they might say English, or British, or both!