Irish Information

Coordinates: 53°N 7°W / 53°N 07°W / 53; -07

Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island in the world. It lies to the north-west of continental Europe and is surrounded by hundreds of islands and islets. To the east of Ireland is the island of Great Britain, separated from it by the Irish Sea. The Republic of Ireland covers five-sixths of the island. Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, covers the remainder and is located in the northeast of the island. Relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain epitomise Ireland's geography with several navigable rivers extending inland. The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable oceanic climate, which avoids extremes in temperature. Thick woodlands covered the island until the 1600s. Today, it is the most deforested area in Europe. Twenty-six mammal species are native to Ireland, with some, such as the red fox, hedgehog and badger, being very common. Others, like the Irish hare, red deer and pine marten are less so.

The population of Ireland is estimated to be 6.2 million. Slightly less than 4.5 million are estimated to live in the Republic of Ireland and slightly fewer than 1.8 million are estimated to live in Northern Ireland. This is a significant increase from a modern historical low of 4.2 million in the 1960s but still much lower than the peak population of over 8 million in the mid-19th century prior to the Great Famine.

Wikipedia, Irish, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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