What Countries Border The United Kingdom?

A sign indicating the boundary between Northern Ireland (UK) and Ireland. Editorial credit: Remizov / Shutterstock.com
A sign indicating the boundary between Northern Ireland (UK) and Ireland. Editorial credit: Remizov / Shutterstock.com

Where Is the United Kingdom?

The United Kingdom (UK) is a sovereign nation located in Europe, within the British Isles archipelago. The UK is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Geographically, the United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, on which England, Scotland, and Wales are located, while Northern Ireland is located on the island of Ireland. The UK borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea to the west, the English Channel to the south, the North Sea to the east, and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. With a total area of 93,600 square miles, the UK is the 78th largest country in the world, and with a population of 66 million, it is the 21st most populous.

Countries Bordering the UK


Ireland is the second largest island of the British Isles. Politically, it is divided between the Republic of Ireland, a sovereign nation, and Northern Ireland, which is a territory of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland is the only sovereign country that shares a land border with the United Kingdom, through Northern Ireland. The country is separated from the island of Great Britain in the east by the Irish Sea, the North Channel, and St. George’s Channel, at distances ranging from 11 to 120 miles.

Ireland-UK Political History

Beginning in the 17th century, the United Kingdom and Ireland were politically united until Ireland withdrew from the union of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. Through the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, the Republic of Ireland was established as an independent Irish state, while Northern Island remained as a constituent country of the United Kingdom. Relations between the two states have been heavily influenced by their long shared history and the governance of Northern Ireland. In recent years, the two nations have enjoyed strong diplomatic ties that have reinforced reconciliation and prosperity in the British Isle archipelago.

Ireland-UK Political Relations

The United Kingdom is Ireland’s closest geographical neighbor and its most important economic partner in trade, investments, and tourism. The two nations have a mutually beneficial bilateral trade relationship, in which goods and services worth €1 billion flow across the Irish Sea each week. Ireland and the United Kingdom have a Common Travel Area (CTA) that allows their citizens to move freely through these countries with minimal legislative restrictions. They are also the only two sovereign states that are exempted from joining the Schengen Agreements's free-travel area of European nations. Both nations jointly became members of the European Union in 1973. However, there are concerns about the relationship between the two countries after the UK exits the European Union (EU) since it is possible that Ireland will be the most affected nation after Brexit. Nevertheless, the two nations have bilateral agreements beyond the EU that are likely to solve such apprehensions.

Maritime Borders of the UK

Since the United Kingdom is part of the European continent, its shares maritime borders with other European nations such as France, Germany, Spain, Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands (a self-governing territory of Denmark). The UK has established strong diplomatic and economic relations with all its neighbors through the European Union. However, there are concerns about how the UK's withdrawal from the European Union might impact these relations.


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