Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island in the world. It lies to the northwest of continental Europe and is surrounded by hundreds of islands and islets. To the east of Ireland is Great Britain, separated from it by the Irish Sea. The island is divided between the Republic of Ireland, which covers just under five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, which covers the remainder and is located in the northeast of the island. The population of Ireland is approximately 6.2 million people. Just under 4.5 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just under 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.
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 17th century. Today, it is the most deforested area in Europe. There are twenty-six extant mammal species native to Ireland.
A Norman invasion in the Middle Ages gave way to a Gaelic Resurgence in the 13th century. Over sixty years of intermittent warfare in the 1500s led to English dominion after 1603. In the 1690s, a system of Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters, and was extended during the 18th century. In 1801, Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom. A war of independence in the early 20th century led to the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades. Northern Ireland remained a part of the United Kingdom and saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998. In 1973, both parts of Ireland joined the European Community.
Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures, particularly in the fields of literature and, to a lesser degree, science and education. A strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed for example through Gaelic games, Irish music and the Irish language, as well as mainstream Western culture, such as contemporary music and drama, and a culture shared in common with Great Britain, as expressed through sports such as soccer, rugby and golf, and the English language.
Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality, and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations. PRINCIPLE ONE Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment June 5-16, 1972
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Culture of Ireland and Culture of Northern Ireland
Ireland's culture comprises elements of the culture of ancient immigration and influences (such as Gaelic culture) and more recent Anglicisation and Americanisation as well as participation in a broader European culture. In broad terms, Ireland is regarded as one of the Celtic nations of Europe, which also includes Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Mann and Brittany. This combination of cultural influences is visible in the intricate designs termed Irish interlace or Celtic knotwork. These can be seen in the ornamentation of medieval religious and secular works. The style is still is popular today in jewellery and graphic art, as is the distinctive style of traditional Irish music and dance, and has become indicative of modern "Celtic" culture in general. ~~
Religion has played a significant role in the cultural life of the island since ancient times (and since the 17th century plantations, has been the focus of political identity and divisions on the island). Ireland's pre-Christian heritage fused with the Celtic Church following the missions of Saint Patrick in the 5th century. The Hiberno-Scottish missions, begun by the Irish monk Saint Columba, spread the Irish vision of Christianity to pagan England and the Frankish Empire. These missions brought written language to an illiterate population of Europe during the Dark Ages that followed the fall of Rome, earning Ireland the sobriquet, "the island of saints and scholars". In more recent years, the Irish pubs have become outposts of Irish culture worldwide. ~~
The national theatre is the Abbey Theatre founded in 1904 and the national Irish-language theatre is An Taibhdhearc, established in 1928 in Galway. Playwrights such as Seán O'Casey, Brian Friel, Sebastian Barry, Conor McPherson and Billy Roche are internationally renowned.
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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didnt do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain