Archive for May 2010

Northern Ireland

Population: 1,597,000. Area: 14,121 square kilometres. Capital: Belfast (with population about 301,600 residents).

Northern Ireland consists of the north-eastern section of the island of Ireland. It is often called Ulster. Ulster was the name of a large province of Britain-controlled Ireland until 1920. In 1920, Great Britain separated Northern Ireland from the rest of Ireland in order to create separate governments for the predominantly Protestant north and the mostly Roman Catholic south.

The majority of the Northern Irish people, who are Protestants of English or Scottish descent, supported the separation. But many Roman Catholics in both the north and the south refused to accept the division. In 1921, the south became the self-governing Irish Free State, now the independent Republic of Ireland.

Northern Ireland continues to be united with Great Britain. Beginning in 1921, militant Irish groups, particularly the Irish Republican Army (IRA), attacked British government installations in Northern Ireland, hoping to force the British to give up control. Protestant groups retaliated. In the 1960s the Roman Catholic minority held marches demanding an end to economic and political discrimination. The police reacted with violence and riots broke out. In 1968, the IRA resumed its campaign of violence. In 1972, Britain established direct rule over Northern Ireland and sent in troops.

Land. Northern Ireland is a land of rolling plains and low mountains. The fertile plains cover the central part of the country, and scenic green valleys and low mountains lie along the country's coast. The countryside of Northern Ireland is dotted with smooth, clear lakes. Lake Neagh, the largest in the British Isles, covers 396 square kilometres near the centre of Northern Ireland.

Economy. About 20 per cent of the people of Northern Ireland live in Belfast, the capital and largest city. Belfast is also the country's manufacturing and trading centre, and many of Northern Ireland's linen mills, ship-yards, and aircraft plants are located there. However, the country's economy depends mainly on service industries, which employ about 75 per cent of the workers.

Since fertile pastureland is Northern Ireland's chief natural resource, agriculture is also an important industry. About 30 per cent of the population live in rural areas.

Life in Northern Ireland is like British life. Such sports as soccer, cricket, and golf are popular pastimes, and pubs play an important role in social life.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 by MA
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