About Ireland  

Ireland is the third largest island in Europe. It lies in between the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea. Politically it is divided into the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), a state which covers five-sixths of the island (south, east, west and north-west), and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, which covers the northeastern sixth of the island. Ireland is about 300 miles (480 kilometers) long and 200 miles (320 kilometers) wide. The island's area is 32,591 square miles approximately the same size as Maine, USA.

The population of the island is approximately 5.8 million people 4.0 million in the Republic of Ireland (1.5 million in Greater Dublin) and 1.7 million in Northern Ireland (0.6 million in Greater Belfast).

A ring of coastal mountains surrounds low central plains. The highest peak is Carrauntuohill which is 3,414 feet. The island is bisected by the River Shannon, at 240 miles the longest river in Ireland. The island's lush vegetation, a product of its mild climate and frequent but soft rainfall, earns it the sobriquet "Emerald Isle".


Classiebawn Castle


Gaelic is Ireland's official language but it's spoken as a native language by only about 58,000 people. These are concentrated in areas known as Gaeltacht, eg. parts of Connemara, the Aran Islands, Ring in Co. Waterford, Ballingeary in West Cork etc. These places have Gaelic schools, often attended by non-native speakers for short courses all year round, which teach everything in Gaelic. Otherwise, Gaelic is taught compulsorily for all children from the age of 4 or 5 until school leaving age. About 1 million people speak Gaelic reasonably well. About 40 million Americans claim Irish descent, 5 million Canadians and 5 million Australians. Countless millions of English people have Irish ancestry.

Over the last 5 years Ireland has had the fastest-growing economy in the western world, hence its nickname 'The Celtic Tiger.




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Climate
Overall, Ireland has a mild, but changeable, climate all year. The island is not noted for its extremes. Precipitation falls throughout the year, but is light overall, particularly in the east of the country. The west of the country, however, tends to be wetter on average and prone to the full force of Atlantic storms, more especially in the late autumn and winter months, which occasionally bring destructive winds and high rainfall totals to these areas, as well as snow and hail.