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Status: Part of United Kingdom

Languages: English, Irish (Gaelic) (both official)

Ethnicity/race: Celtic, English

Religions: Roman Catholic 88%, Church of Ireland 3%, other Christian 2%, none 4%

Literacy rate: 98% (1981 est.)

Land area: 5, 452 sq mi (14, 121 sq km)

Population (1998 est.): 1, 688, 600

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Belfast, 484, 800 (metro. area), 246, 200 (city proper)

Other large cities: Cork, 193, 400; Limerick, 84, 900; Galway, 67, 200

Monetary unit: British pound sterling (£ )

Northern Ireland occupies the north-eastern part of Ireland, which is separated from the island of Great Britain by the North Channel. In the south-west Northern Ireland borders on the Irish Republic.

Almost all the area of Northern Ireland is a plain of volcanic origin, deepening in the centre to from the largest lake of the British Isles, Lough Neagh.

Northern Ireland has a typical oceanic climate with mild damp winters and cold rainy summers. Forests are rather scarce, moors and meadows prevail. The north of Ireland was heavily forested and lightly populated until the 17th century, when it began to be farmed more intensively. Farms were small and incomes were supplemented by domestic production of linen. In the 19th century Belfast and the surrounding area became a world leader in the factory production of linen. Developments in shipbuilding and engineering followed, and industrial enterprises expanded in the period from 1850 to 1914. These heavy industries fared badly after World War 1 (1914-1918 ) and never fully recovered. Linen and shipbuilding are now small concerns.

The economy suffered considerably as a result of the post – 1969 political violence. Since the 1950s Northern Ireland has been the poorest region of the United Kingdom. The economy has revived in recent year as major British retailing chains have moved into the province, and the tourism industry has begun to achieve its full potential. Most of Northern Ireland’s import and export trade is with Great Britain. The Republic of Ireland is the next most important trading partner.

Most farms in Northern Ireland are small. Historically they began as tenant farms owned by the landlords of large estates. By the 1920s most were owned by the farmers who worked them. Agriculture in Northern Ireland largely revolves around livestock production – cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry are main animals raised. Barley is the most important crop, followed by potatoes and oats. Although 20 percent of Ulster was still virgin forest in 1600, these forests had all but disappeared by 1700. Reforestation projects were not pursued until after 1945.

Control questions:

1. Which four parts is the UK historically divided into?

2. Where is the port of London situated? What makes its position convenient?

3. Which three regions can the territory of Scotland be divided into?

4. What part of Scotland can be called the cradle of the Scottish nation?

5. How do you explain the fact that there is a lot of rainfall in Wales?

6. What language is spoken in Wales?

7. Where is the Northern Ireland situated? What country does it situated on?

8. What do people grow on their farms?



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