Northern Ireland is the smallest country in the UK. It is a popular tourist destination with its green landscape and numerous opportunities for sports activities.
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This is the smallest country in the United Kingdom. Do you know why it is part of the UK and not of the Republic of Ireland?
Northern Ireland consists of six of the nine counties that made up the old Irish province of Ulster. It is small in size, and has approximately 1.8 million inhabitants. Belfast is the capital city.
Settlers from Scotland and England
Northern Ireland has been influenced by settlers from Scotland and England who arrived there in the 17th and 18th centuries. The settlers were Protestants while the original Irish inhabitants were Catholics. This has led to a common belief that the conflicts in Northern Ireland are religious, but they are equally much a matter of the civil rights of a minority group. The influence from mainland Britain also means that Irish music and language traditions may not be as strong as in the Republic, but they are still important.
Creation of Northern Ireland
Ireland was divided in 1922 into the Irish Free State (later the Republic of Ireland) and Northern Ireland, which remained under British rule. The north had a Protestant majority who did not want to become a part of Roman Catholic Ireland. According to the 2001 census, 53.1% of the population in Northern Ireland comes from a Protestant background and 43.8% from a Catholic background.
Ulster (Northern Ireland) is as green as the rest of Ireland. It has beautiful hills, which “dive” into the ocean and beaches spanning the whole length of its coast. The temperate, damp climate supports the rich green, grass-covered landscape and the lowlands are fertile and suitable for agriculture. The Giant’s Causeway, which is sometimes called the 8th wonder of the world, has lent inspiration to both folk-tales and poetry. It is a geological formation in the sea, with thousands of strange geometrical patterns, and is Northern Ireland’s number one tourist attraction.
There are low mountains, deep valleys and lots of opportunities for outdoor sports. Two of the world’s 20 best golf courses are situated in Northern Ireland. There is a scenic path for walkers, stretching for more than 800 kilometres and there are plenty of opportunities for fishing, either in one of the many lakes (the United Kingdom’s biggest, Lough Neagh, for example) or the deep-sea variety. If you prefer more relaxing activities, there are culture and music festivals. The economy is based on high technology, tourism and service industries.
Tasks and Activities
Watch this video on flickr.com from driving in Ireland and imagine that you are on a holiday in Ireland with a friend. Then start the video again and try to keep a conversation going as long as the video is running. Comment on the things you see. The last person talking has won! Remember to turn the volume down so you will not be disturbed by the original video comments.