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People and places Countries and regions


We often refer to different countries, regions and geographic boundaries within our statistical content. Using a consistent format and naming convention will improve consistency and understanding for our users.

UK and constituent countries

Always use UK rather than United Kingdom.

The countries of the UK are:

  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales

These should be written in alphabetical order when listed together.

Great Britain is England, Scotland and Wales. The UK is Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

If you are comparing data for each country alongside England and Wales, Great Britain and/or UK data, you may wish to use the following order: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Use Ireland to refer to both the country and the island. Use the Republic of Ireland to distinguish between it and Northern Ireland.

Ireland is an island to the west of England.

The Republic of Ireland’s capital is Dublin, and Northern Ireland’s capital is Belfast.


Regions should be upper case when referring to defined geographical areas.

West Midlands
South East
Yorkshire and The Humber

South Wales is not a defined geographical area. Refer to it as “south Wales” unless it is used as part of a proper noun such as the "South Wales Police".

Generalised regions should be lower case but there are a few exceptions where upper case can be used.

the north
the south coast
East End
West End (London)
Middle East
Central America, North America, South America

The ONS Geography Guide to Presenting Statistics (opens in a new tab)  provides a full list of UK countries and regions (on page 5 of the PDF download).

Subnational areas

Use lower case when talking generally about subnational areas such as:

  • local authorities
  • health authorities
  • unitary authorities
  • wards
  • sub integrated care board locations

Data are produced at local authority and health authority level.

Use upper case when referring to a specific authority, ward, group or area.

Birmingham City Council
Cardiff Council

When referring to the geographical area covered by a local authority, use the location name.


The exception to this rule is when referring to Output Areas and Super Output Areas. These should always be upper case, with lower case for the word "layer".

We produce Census 2021 data by Output Area and Lower layer Super Output areas.
Milton Keynes Lower layer Super Output Area had the highest percentage.

Compass directions

Compass directions should always be lower case.

the south-east
the north

Other countries

Use the GOV.UK country register (opens in a new tab)  for the correct British English names for all countries recognised by the UK government.

Use the commonly used name rather than the official name.

Switzerland, not The Swiss Confederation
United States, not The United States of America
Czechia, not The Czech Republic

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