Ireland (English: Ireland, Irish: Éire, Ulster-Scots: Airlann) is the third largest Island of Europe, and is primarily surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, except on the East side of the island, where the Irish Sea lies. The island is located to the West of the island of Great Britain. South of Ireland is the Celtic Sea, but this is a part of the Atlantic Ocean.

Geography[Edit] Nuvola single chevron right.svg See geography of Ireland for the main article on this topic. The island covers an area of 84.421 km². It was called Hibernia by the Romans , meaning "land of eternal winter" means. It measures 485 kilometers from North to South and 275 km from East to west. The low countries in the middle are surrounded by mountainous areas. The river Shannon runs from northeast to Southwest and is the longest river of the island. The largest lake is Lough Neagh.

Politically speaking, the island divided into:

the country with capital Dublin Ireland the country with Northern Ireland capital Belfast, which is part of the United Kingdom Ireland forms the largest part of the island, while Northern Ireland takes up the North East corner.

It is often said that the island is part of the British Isles. Many people, mainly from the Republic, take offense to this name, which suggests that the island belongs to Great Britain . Therefore also the neutral term Islands of the North Atlantic (IONA), and Great Britain and Ireland for the whole.

History[Edit] The Division of the island in the North and the Republic is a relatively recent development, which only in the twenties of the 20th century came about. The island itself is already inhabited 9,000 years. The earliest signs of culture can be found in the form of Newgrange, a megalithic Tomb dating back to about 4000 BC. The Irish language, Irish Gaelic, came with the Celts in the last centuries BC. There is almost nothing known of the languages which were spoken. In the 5th century the country was converted to Christianity with according to tradition Saint Patricius as the central figure. It was then a center of Christian doctrine. This largely came to an end when the Vikings invaded the country in the 9th century .

Relief Map Ireland In 1172 King Henry II of England took possession of Irish lands, and from the 13th century English laws were also introduced. At first it was the English domination limited to an area around Dublin known as the Pale, but it expanded in the 16th century with the final collapse of the Gaelic social and political super structures at the end of the 17th century. From that time the British influence was growing, and with it so did the English language prevails. With time there grew a movement to the British authority to shake off, so that Ireland could be regained its independence. Various conflicts and wars against the British led eventually to independence for 26 of the 32 counties (Southern), with the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922. The six northern counties remained with the British hear because there many descendants of former British colonists. In 1949 the Irish Free State went a step further and became a fully independent Republic.

More recently, the Good Friday Agreement of 10 april 1998 in Northern Ireland (the Northern six counties) brought a kind of power distribution, whereby the Unionists, who want Northern Ireland to the United Kingdom remains, and the nationalists, who want to reunite Northern Ireland with Ireland, along the country driving. The power that was given by the agreement is limited, and is a few times almost broken. The political future of Northern Ireland remains uncertain.

The island operates as a unit in a number of areas. For example, the Ireland national rugby union team has players from both the North and the South, and the Irish Rugby Football Union organises the sport on both sides of the border. The Ireland cricket team also unites the North and the South. During the 2007 cricket World Cup final reached the eighth place. Gaelic football is the most popular sport on the island, and is played on the basis of an All Ireland-format. Also in hurling, another traditional Irish Sports, do teams from all 32 counties of the island. Both sports are organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), which has its headquarters in the Croke ParkStadium in Dublin. Eilandbreed boxing is also regulated by the IABA. On the other hand, Football is in every State in Northern Ireland separately organized, with the Irish Football Association and in the South the Football Association of Ireland. The major religions, the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland are all organized eilandbreed.

Ireland belongs to the European Union since 1 January 1973. Both the Republic and Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, joined at that time. The Republic of Ireland is also a member of the European economic and Monetary Union, and as such has since 1 January 2002 the euro as legal tender. In Northern Ireland is the British pound (GBP) is used.

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