England Is Not an Independent Country

Jigsaw puzzle in the shape of the British Isles
Jon Boyes/ Photographer's Choice RF/ Getty Images

Although England operates as a semi-autonomous region, it is not officially an independent country and instead is part of the country known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland—the United Kingdom for short.

There are eight accepted criteria used to determine whether an entity is an independent country or not, and a country need only fail on one of the eight criteria to not meet the definition of independent country status—England does not meet all eight criteria; it fails on six of the eight.

England is a country according to the standard definition of the term: an area of land that is controlled by its own government. However, since the United Kingdom's Parliament decides certain issues like foreign and domestic trade, national education, and criminal and civil law as well as controlling transportation and the military.

The Eight Criteria for Independent Country Status

In order for a geographical region to be considered an independent country, it must first meet all of the following criteria: has space that has internationally recognized boundaries; has people who live there on an ongoing basis; has economic activity, an organized economy, and regulates its own foreign and domestic trade and prints money; has the power of social engineering (like education); has its own transportation system for moving people and goods; has a government that provides public services and police power; has sovereignty from other countries; and has external recognition.

If one or more of these requisites are not met, the country cannot be considered fully independent and does not factor into the total of 196 independent countries around the world. Instead, these regions are typically called States, which can be defined by a less-strict set of criteria, all of which are met by England.

England only passes the first two criteria to be considered independent—it has internationally recognized boundaries and has had people living there consistently throughout its history. England is 130,396 square kilometers in area, making it the largest component of the United Kingdom, and according to the 2011 census has a population of 53,010,000, making it the most populous component of the U.K. as well.

How England Isn't an Independent Country

England fails to meet six of the eight criteria to be considered an independent country by lacking: sovereignty, autonomy on foreign and domestic trade, power over social engineering programs like education, control of all its transportation and public services, and recognition internationally as an independent country.

While England certainly has economic activity and an organized economy, it does not regulate its own foreign or domestic trade and instead defaults to decisions handed down by the United Kingdom's Parliament—which is elected by citizens from England, Wales, Ireland, and Scottland. Additionally, although the Bank of England serves as the central bank for the United Kingdom and prints banknotes for England and Wales, it doesn't have control over its value.

National government departments such as the Department for Education and Skill maintain responsibility for social engineering, so England does not control its own programs in that department, nor does it control the national transportation system, despite having its own system of trains and buses.

Although England does have its own local law enforcement and fire protection provided by local governments, Parliament controls criminal and civil law, the prosecution system, the courts, and defense and national security across the United Kingdom—England does not and cannot have its own army. For this reason, England also lacks sovereignty because the United Kingdom has all of this power over the state.

Finally, England does not have external recognition as an independent country nor does it have its own embassies in other independent countries; as a result, there's no possible way England could become an independent member of the United Nations.

Thus, England—as well as Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland—is not an independent country but instead an internal division of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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Rosenberg, Matt. "England Is Not an Independent Country." ThoughtCo, Jan. 31, 2018, thoughtco.com/england-is-not-an-independent-country-1435413. Rosenberg, Matt. (2018, January 31). England Is Not an Independent Country. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/england-is-not-an-independent-country-1435413 Rosenberg, Matt. "England Is Not an Independent Country." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/england-is-not-an-independent-country-1435413 (accessed May 27, 2018).