Geography of the Emerald Island
Ireland is an island situated in the extreme northwest side of Europe
between 51.5 and 55.5 degrees north latitude and between 5.5 and 10.5
degrees west longitude. The Irish Sea to the east separates Ireland
from Britain; the sea is from 17.6 to 192 km (11 to 120 miles) wide
and has a maximum depth of about 200 metres (650 feet). Around the
other coasts the shallow waters of the Continental Shelf are rather
narrow and depths increase rapidly into the Atlantic Ocean.
Ireland has four provinces, which are divided into a total of 32
counties, 26 that are part of the Republic of Ireland and 6 that make
up Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland covers 70,282 sq. km
(27,136 sq.mi.) and consists of Munster, Leinster, Connacht and three
counties of Ulster, making a total of 26 counties governed by The
Republic. Northern Ireland is only 5,500 square miles in area - about
the size of Yorkshire or Connecticut - and is made up of the remaining
6 counties of Ulster.
The island is comprised of large central lowland made up of limestone
and hills surrounded by a border of mountains around the coast of
varying structure. The southern mountain ridges are red sandstone
separated by limestone river valleys. The mountains of Galway, Mayo
and Donegal in the west and northwest and in Counties Down and Wicklow
on the east coast are mainly granite, while the northeast of the
country is a basalt plateau. The central plain has occasional low
hills but the earth is clay and sand as a result of glacial deposits.
There are many bogs and numerous lakes. The island has had at least
two glaciations and ice-smoothed rock, mountain lakes, glacial valleys
and deposits of glacial sand, gravel and clay mark the passage of the
ice. The highlands of the north, west, and south are generally barren
and rise more than 3,000 ft (914 m). The central plain is extremely
fertile and the climate is warmed by southwesterly winds making it
temperate and moist.
Ireland's 485 km (302 miles) at it greatest length and it is 304 km
(189 miles) at its widest point. The highest mountain is Carrantuohill
(1,040 metres/3'414 feet), near Killarney in County Kerry. The longest
river is the Shannon (370 km/230 miles, including estuary), which
opens, in county Limerick, at the sea. Ireland has 800 lakes and
rivers and 5,631 km (3,500 mi.) of coastline, so you are never more
than 70 miles from the sea. The largest lake is Lough Neagh (396 ssq
km/153 ss.quare miles) in the North and is bordered by counties Armagh,
Down, Antrim, Derry and Tyrone.
| Gaelic is
the Celtic branch of the Indo-European family of
languages. About one person in five in Ireland can speak
Irish today, but only one in 20 use it daily. In
Scotland approximately 80,000 people speak Gaelic. |
Patrick (about 389-461) is the patron saint of Ireland.
Patrick was born in Britain.|
Ireland, together with Britain, joined
the European Economic Community in 1973.|
population of the island as a whole is just under 6
million(2006), 4.20 million live in the Irish Republic
and 1.7 million live in Northern Ireland. |
a parliamentary democracy. The National Parliament (Oireachtas)
consists of the President and two Houses: Dáil Éireann
(the House of Representatives) and Seanad Éireann (the
Senate) Northern Ireland has a
parliamentary monarchy and an electoral democracy. The
voting age is 18 in both parts of Ireland.