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It is well known that George has drawn a lot of inspiration from British history. For example;

  • The War of the Five Kings draws heavily on The War of the Roses and George has even stated he is heavily influenced by this.

    • Houses Stark and Lannister are often compared to York and Lancaster.
  • The Wall is obviously inspired from Hadrian's Wall and again George has stated this.

  • Lots of common British medieval things have been used as influence such as tourneys, knights and what not.

  • Westeros looks very similar to the shape of the United Kingdom when you scan it by eye and The Wall is even similarly located to Hadrian's Wall, as are other landmarks, cities and features.

The Lands of Ice and Fire, map of Westeros Map of the UK
The Lands of Ice and Fire, map of Westeros.

This last one is most telling and I can't remember George ever stating that he based the shape and features of Westeros on the United Kingdom.

On a similar note, and something I hadn't considered before myself, the southern parts of Westeros are almost identical to Ireland rotated 180 degrees. This appears to be more than mere coincidence and something more than just subjective opinion in the similarities.

Comparison of Westeros to Ireland upside down

Has George R. R. Martin ever officially stated that the shape of Westeros was based on the United Kingdom?

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    I'm really not seeing any similarity, except that both Westeros and Great Britain are a few times taller than they are wide. That seems awfully tenuous, to me. – David Richerby Feb 7 at 17:30
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    @DavidRicherby Funny, the similarities seem quite apparent to me, and interestingly I didn't notice the one you did. E.g. the thin "neck" between England and Scotland, the part sticking out at the bottom, the two "prongs" at the edge of Wales, "Ireland" across the body of water. The similarity is more apparent if you imagine flipping one of the images horizontally. – JBentley Feb 7 at 21:28
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    When you say “the United Kingdom” are you including all of Ireland (as when it was first United) or only Northern Ireland? Or do you mean the island of Great Britain? – Anton Sherwood Feb 7 at 22:36
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    @DavidRicherby: The similarities run deeper. The capitals are roughly in the same location (King's Landing and London don't sound too far apart either), the main continent is to the east across a narrow sea, the south side of that continent was home to a past civilization that defined much of the current culture (Valyria/Rome), the far east of the continent is architecturally and culturally similar to china; south of the "Europe" continent consists mostly of tribal cultures, (ex) colonies and tropical climate, ... This seems at least inspired by oversimplified descriptions of Earth. – Flater Feb 8 at 8:19
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    @Flater "King's Landing and London don't sound too far apart either" Oh, come on. That's a massive stretch. "the main continent is to the east across a narrow sea" and yet other people say you have to mirror the map to see the similarity. – David Richerby Feb 8 at 10:21
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In this 2014 San Diego Comic Con panel discussion at 15m30s he says that his map of Westeros began as Ireland upside down, where the southwest of Ireland corresponds with the Fingers. The North definitely looks like the UK, with the Wall pretty much in the same place as Hadrian's Wall.

My Westeros began as upside down Ireland. You can see the Fingers is the Dingle Peninsula and stuff like that, I've changed things.

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    I particularly like how this answer doesn't try to say "yes" or "no" (both of which in this case seem arguable), but just lays out the known facts. Of course only a geographically small portion of the island of Ireland is part of the UK. – T.E.D. Feb 8 at 18:57
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George R. R. Martin has commented on this but surprisingly has stated that Westeros' shape is not based on the England and in fact can't even see the similarities himself. Although interestingly he does state that he based the fact that Westeros was off the west coast of Essos on UK being off the west coast of Europe.

Some readers have likened Westeros to England because they see some general similarities in its shape, and in its location off the west coast of a larger landmass. The latter is true enough (I don't see the former, myself), but Westeros is much much MUCH bigger than Britain. More the size (though not the shape, obviosuly) of South America, I'd say.

Westeros, So Spake Martin, Geography

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    I can't help but think Martin is being deliberately obtuse. The most obvious similarities (assuming mirror symmetry) are those between Dorne and Cornwall and between The Stormlands and Wales. – chepner Feb 7 at 17:08
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    I was ignoring Ireland; flip Westeros around its vertical axis to match Dorne with Cornwall, etc. – chepner Feb 7 at 17:29
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    @chepner You've decided they look similar and anyone who denies it is being obtuse; I think they have very few similarities and anyone who claims they're similar (especially if they have to resort to mirroring) is engaging in wishful thinking. – David Richerby Feb 7 at 17:32
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    My understanding is that Westeros is not an island like Britain, but a peninsula. North of the Wall there appears to be a much larger landmass, and I don't think any of the official maps have shown that in its entirety. (Caveat: I'm one book behind, so not sure - and not sure if the map in the show's credits counts or not.) – Darrel Hoffman Feb 7 at 20:09
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    @DavidRicherby I think saying that someone has "decided they look similar" is no more of a fair judgement than saying someone who denies it is being obtuse. For example, I took once glance at the image now, having never even heard of this suggestion before (and therefore not having any pre-decided conceptions), and the similarities seemed apparent to me. It's not "wishful thinking" if you are merely noticing a similarity (as opposed to wishing that it was deliberate on the part of the author). Clearly this is a subjective thing. – JBentley Feb 7 at 21:39

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