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The archipelago has been referred to by a single name for over 2000 years: the term British Isles derives from terms used by classical geographers to describe this island group.By 50 BC Greek geographers were using equivalents of Prettanikē as a collective name for the British Isles.) or insula Albionum, from either the Latin albus meaning "white" (referring to the white cliffs of Dover, the first view of Britain from the continent) or the "island of the Albiones", first mentioned in the Massaliote Periplus in the 6th century BC, and by Pytheas.

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It was used again in 1604, when King James VI and I styled himself "King of Great Brittaine, France and Ireland".

Great Britain refers geographically to the island of Great Britain, politically to England, Scotland and Wales in combination.

Politically, the island is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and constitutes most of its territory.

Most of England, Scotland, and Wales are on the island.

The term "Great Britain" often extends to include surrounding islands that form part of England, Scotland, and Wales, and is also sometimes loosely applied to the UK as a whole.

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