Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Slightly smaller than Oregon

Here’s something that Jake may find somewhat amusing – the CIA World Factbook lists the UK as being “slightly smaller than Oregon“. So you can fit a country that is home to over 60 million people inside one US state whose own population doesn’t even top 3.5 million.

And yet the UK isn’t particularly overcrowded (despite what some right-wing politicians may tell you). We still have large areas of open countryside and places were only a handful of people live. That must mean that Oregon is very sparsely populated.

Incidentally, the whole of the UK would fit into Texas twice over with room to spare.

Other useful facts that you can pick up from the UK’s CIA World Factbook entry is that the full title of our country (as is printed on the cover of our passports) is “United Kingdom of Great Britian and Northern Ireland”. But it’s generally just known as the “United Kingdom” or just “UK”. I’ve never seen it called “UKGBNI” before.


  1. I can speak to Oregon’s population. I live in Washington state and my wife’s family is mostly in Oregon. It is indeed pretty sparsely populated. The largest populated city is Portland with about 550,000 people (plus a few thousand in the nearby towns and suburbs). Salem is the second largest city and it’s 45 minutes south of Portland with about 150,000 people. Most of the people in the state live in the western third. The other 2/3 is filled with farm and ranch land. Vast swaths of this land is devoted to huge cattle ranches with very few people living there. Also, the some of these areas are practically deserts.

  2. The only time I’ve seen it written as “The United Kingdom of Great Britain” was during an olympics opening ceremony some years back. I found it quite amusing at the time ‘cos I pointing out all the ex ussr and east european countries with silly long names and then out come our guys baring an equally long and silly title. I don’t remember northern ireland being tacked on the end of it though, I guess they ran out of space.

  3. Is the little old archipelago of the British Isles overcrowded or not? Well we would certainly struggle to sustain the current population without importing substantial amounts of food for instance. The world as a whole is arguably overcrowded and the UK is one of the most densely populated parts of it. On the other hand the UK is economically viable and could indeed sustain more people. I don’t think it would take a huge number of more people to make the house prices completely ridiculous though.

  4. Like BD, I live in Washington… but one thing you have to realize about both us and Oregon is that we have a huge mountain range running through the middle of our states, which renders good chunks uninhabitable… well, perhaps not entirely uninhabitable… but it does make for a really inconvenient place to live!

  5. I think the front of a UK passport states that it’s for the UKGBNI, but most of us just think that we’re “Brits”. Officially that doesn’t include those in Northern Island of course.
    I wonder if Unionists think of themselves as British or UKers. Or something.

  6. Rutty is right – it’s on passports.

  7. I’m one of those anal people who will point out at every appropriate opportunity that Northern Ireland, while part of the UK, is not part of Great Britain. Great Britain is the island, not the country.
    If you think that’s confusing you should look up Ireland. The official name of the country, in the constitution, is Ireland (or Éire in Irish). Because that’s also the name of the island it’s sometimes necessary to distinguish the country from the island (because we no longer make any claim to the whole island, since some referendum in the nineties). That’s why we have the Republic of Ireland Act, which gives the official description of the country as Republic of Ireland, and acknowledges that that description may be used in place of the country’s name in cases where ambiguity should be avoided. Still, most people think that Republic of Ireland is more correct. It’s actually less correct in most situations.

  8. It’s funny that the UK posters don’t know the name of their country but that Irish kids all learn about the Act Of Union in 1801 which created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. I reckon a sizeable proportion of people I know would have no problem distinguishing between what is the UK and Britain.

  9. That’s frickin’ hilarious.
    But as an Oregonian, yes, the entire East half of the state is very sparsely populated (it’s basically a desert, so there’s good reason people don’t live there). The bulk majority of Oregon’s population runs along the Willamette River Valley through Western Oregon (which also follows the main north-south interstate highway through the state, I-5) in larger cities like Portland, Salem, and Eugene. And like was said before, the state is divided in half by a big ol’ mountain range, with most of that population being on the West side of that range.
    Personally, I live in the only decent size (we have 70,000+ now) city on the East side (Bend) and when you head east of here, the next town with more than about 500 people is 3 hours drive away.
    Thanks for the link!

  10. Oregon Will Swallow the UK Whole

    Despite Oregon having 50 million people less than the UK, Oregon is, according to the CIA World Fact Book, slightly larger than the UK. Neil, who lives in the UK,…

  11. Eh?
    So, I live in England, which is part of Great Britain, which is part of the United Kingdom (of Great Britatin and Northern Ireland to give its full title)?
    Have I got that right?

  12. Yep that’s pretty much it.

  13. Just checking.
    Nobody in work seems to know where they live either. Kind of worrying, that.

  14. Lol at Muppetette – so does that make me a british expat, an english expat or a ukian expat – no wonder I have split personalities.

  15. You can be whatever you like Andy. Don’t let these labels limit you 😉
    I’d assume you’d need to leave the whole of the UK to be any kind of ex-pat though….
    (Can you tell I’m bored at work today?)