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The Northern Ireland Northern Ireland, integral part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, situated in the northeastern portion of the island of Ireland. Northern Ireland is bounded on the north and northeast by the North Channel, on the southeast by the Irish Sea, and on the south and west by the Republic of Ireland. It includes Rathlin Island in the North Channel and several smaller offshore islands. Northern Ireland is also known as Ulster, because it comprises six of the nine counties that constituted the former province of Ulster.
The Northern Ireland(map)
Land The total area of Northern Ireland is 14,148 sq km (5463 sq mi). Northern Ireland has an extreme northern to southern extension of about 135 km (about 85 mi) and an extreme eastern to western extension of about 175 km (about 110 mi). The shoreline is characterized by numerous irregularities and is about 530 km (about 330 mi) long. The major indentations are Lough Foyle in the north and Belfast, Strangford, and Carlingford loughs in the east. A striking feature of the northern coast is the Giant's Causeway, a rock formation consisting of thousands of closely placed, polygonal pillars of black basalt. The country consists mainly of a low, flat plain in the approximate center of which is Lough Neagh (about 390 sq km/about 150 sq mi), the largest lake in the British Isles. Other important lakes are Lough Erne and Upper Lough Erne. The highest point in the country is Slieve Donard (852 m/2796 ft), a peak in the Mourne Mountains. The chief rivers are the Foyle River, which forms part of the northwestern boundary and flows into Lough Foyle at Londonderry, and the Upper Bann and Lower Bann rivers. The former rises in the Mourne Mountains and empties into Lough Neagh; the latter flows out of Lough Neagh to the North Channel. Among the many other rivers are the Main, Blackwater, Lagan, Erne, and Bush. Because of the generally flat terrain, drainage is poor, and the areas of marshland are extensive.
Climate The climate of Northern Ireland is mild and damp throughout the year. The prevailing westerly winds from the Gulf Stream are largely responsible for the lack of extreme summer heat and winter cold. The average annual temperature is approximately 10 C (50 F); temperatures average about 14.4 C (about 58 F) in July and about 4.4 C (about 40 F) in January. Rainfall is distributed evenly during the year. The annual precipitation frequently exceeds 1016 mm (40 in) in the north and is about 760 mm (about 30 in) in the south. The level of humidity is high.
Natural Resources The most valuable natural resources of Northern Ireland are its fertile soil and rich pasturelands. Natural waterpower is abundant. The chief minerals are basalt, limestone, sand and gravel, granite, chalk, iron ore, and coal also are found in small amounts. Peat is important as a fuel. Plants and Animals. In general, the plants and animals of Northern Ireland are similar to those of the island as a whole. The only distinctive plant is a species of wild orchid, Spiranthes stricta, found in the valleys of the Upper and Lower Bann rivers. Distinctive species of animal life include the pollan, a freshwater variety of whitefish found in Lough Neagh and Lough Erne. Population. The majority of the people are of Scottish or English ancestry and are known commonly as the Scotch-Irish. The remainder of the population is Irish, principally native to Ulster. English is the sole official language. Unlike the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland does not encourage the use of the Gaelic language.
Belfast The capital and largest city of Northern Ireland is Belfast (population, 1991 preliminary, 279,237), which is surrounded by heavy industries including shipbuilding and textiles. The other major city in Northern Ireland is Londonderry (72,334). Political Divisions. Northern Ireland is divided into 26 districts. Each district is governed by an elected council. Religion. Religious affiliation has been a key determinant in Northern Ireland's history, politics, and social life since the 17th century. At various times it has determined access to voting and jobs, standards of living, and education. In modern times it has come to symbolize the differences between the descendants of the original Irish inhabitants and those of the settler community. The descendants of the Scottish and English settlers are predominantly Protestant; those of the original Irish inhabitants are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. The Roman Catholics are the largest single denomination. The largest Protestant denominations are the Presbyterian, the Church of Ireland, and the Methodist. Unlike England, Northern Ireland has no established, or state, church. The Church of Ireland, at one time a branch of the Church of England, was disassociated from the state in 1871.
Culture Originally, Northern Ireland was culturally indistinguishable from the remainder of Ireland. However, with the waves of colonization from England and Scotland during the 17th century, the northeastern province of Ulster evolved a distinctive cultural identity. The settlers, who came to form a majority in the region, were British in culture and tradition, and Protestant in religion; their descendants are committed to keeping the province constitutionally allied with Great Britain. The Irish inhabitants, in a minority and for centuries politically and economically marginalized, had as their goal the reunification of the island of Ireland. In addition, Northern Ireland is considerably more urbanized and industrialized than the Republic of Ireland. There is a thriving theatrical movement in Belfast, and much literary activity. Belfast is the base of Opera Northern Ireland, which presents seasons at the Grand Opera House in the city, and also tours the province. A ballet company is based in the capital, as is the Belfast Philharmonic Society, one of Britain's leading choral societies. The Ulster Symphony Orchestra is among the leading orchestras of Britain. Queen's University hosts the annual Belfast Festival. Northern Ireland has two national museums: the Ulster Museum in Belfast, which houses a collection of Irish antiquities; and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Holywood, County Down.
Economy Northern Ireland's gross domestic product in 1992 was about $18.3 billion. In general, the economy of Northern Ireland is based on agriculture and manufacturing and is closely tied to that of Great Britain as a whole; almost half of manufacturing output is sold to the rest of Britain; one quarter is sold locally. Northern Ireland has been particularly hard hit by the decline of traditional industries like shipbuilding, on which much of its prosperity and many jobs depended. The lack of economic opportunities, particularly for young people, played a role in the sectarian conflicts of the 1970s. At the same time, however, the threat of terrorism hindered efforts to attract investment and create new jobs in the 1980s. Considerable public expenditure has been devoted to urban renewal in Belfast and Londonderry. Various agencies have been established to attract new companies and encourage small business, backed by tax and other incentives. Helped by moves towards a peaceful settlement of the sectarian violence, several important new investments were announced in the early 1990s. Public finance comes predominantly from taxes (50 percent in 1994) and government grants in aid from Great Britain (41 percent); Northern Ireland also received considerable funding from the European Union.
Shamrock Title: Shamrock Description: Legend has it that the shamrock was used by St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, to illustrate the Holy Trinity, hence its widespread use on St. Patrick's day on 17 March. It is one of Ireland's national emblems, and is used by mainly by the Nationalist tradition, but is also evident within the Unionist tradition, with bodies such as the Royal Irish Rangers wearing the Shamrock every St. Patrick's day.
The Red Hand of Ulster Title: Red Hand of Ulster Description: The Red Hand of Ulster is the official seal of the O'Neill family. It is believed to originate from a mythical tale wherein two chieftains were racing across a stretch of water in a bid to be the first to reach the land and claim it as his own. Realising his foe would touch the land first, one chieftain cut off his hand and threw it onto the shore, thereby claiming the land before his adversary reached it. The Red Hand is one of the only emblems in Northern Ireland used by both communities in Northern Ireland although it is more associated with the Protestant community. Catholics see it as representing the nine counties of Ulster while Protestants see it as representing the six counties of Northern Ireland. The Red Hand of Ulster appears on many murals and flags. Title: Harp
The Flag of the Government of Northern Ireland (1953-1972) Northern Ireland has not had its own unique, government sanctioned flag since its government was prorogued in 1972, and abolished in 1973 under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973. During official events, the British government uses the Union Flag which is the official flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and is the only flag used by the government in Northern Ireland. The Ulster Banner remains in use by Unionists, a number of sporting organisations in Northern Ireland and some local government authorities under Unionist control.
”A Londonderry Air" Northern Ireland "A Londonderry Air" Would God I were the tender apple blossom That floats and falls from off the twisted bough To lie and faint within your silken bosom Within your silken bosom as that does now. Or would I were a little burnish'd apple For you to pluck me, gliding by so cold While sun and shade you robe of lawn will dapple Your robe of lawn, and you hair's spun gold. Yea, would to God I were among the roses That lean to kiss you as you float between While on the lowest branch a bud uncloses A bud uncloses, to touch you, queen. Nay, since you will not love, would I were growing A happy daisy, in the garden path That so your silver foot might press me going Might press me going even unto death.
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