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Northern Ireland

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Northern Ireland
Anthem: The Londonderry Air (unofficial)
Location of  Northern Ireland  (dark green)– in the European Union  (light green & dark grey)– in the United Kingdom  (light green)
Location of  Northern Ireland  (dark green)

– in the European Union  (light green & dark grey)
– in the United Kingdom  (light green)

and largest city
54°35.8′N 5°55.8′W / 54.5967°N 5.93°W / 54.5967; -5.93
Official languages English (de facto)[note 1], Irish, Ulster-Scots
Ethnic groups (2011[1]) 98.3% White, 1.7% Other
Demonym Northern Irish, British and/or Irish
Government Devolved government within a constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  First Minister Peter Robinson, MLA
 -  Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, MLA
 -  Prime Minister (UK) David Cameron, MP
 -  Secretary of State (UK) Theresa Villiers, MP
Legislature Northern Ireland Assembly
 -  Government of Ireland Act 3 May 1921 
 -  Northern Ireland Constitution Act 18 July 1973 
 -  Northern Ireland Act (1974) 17 July 1974 
 -  Northern Ireland Act (1998) 19 November 1998 
 -  Total 13,843 km2
5,345 sq mi 
 -  2011 census 1,810,863 [2]
 -  Density 131/km2
339/sq mi
GDP (nominal) 2002 estimate
 -  Total £33.2 billion
 -  Per capita £19,603
Currency Pound sterling (GBP)
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
 -  Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Date format dd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Drives on the left
Calling code +44
Patron saint Saint Patrick
Internet TLD .uk, .ie, .eu

Northern Ireland (Tuaisceart Éireann in Irish or Norlin Airlann in Ulster Scots) is one of the four parts of the United Kingdom. It is part of an island in Western Europe called Ireland. In 1922 Ireland was split into two states, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The capital is Belfast. 1.8 million people live in Northern Ireland.


Northern Ireland has had many conflicts between some of the people who live there. Unionists, who are mostly Protestant, want Northern Ireland to stay a part of the United Kingdom. Nationalists, who are mostly Catholic, want Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and have the whole island united as one country, under Irish rule. Some people do not want to join the Republic of Ireland or remain part of the United Kingdom. Instead, they want Northern Ireland to be an independent country.

Sometimes people use other names for Northern Ireland. Some unionists call it Ulster, even though some parts of Ulster are actually in the Republic of Ireland. Nationalists sometimes call it "the North" or "the Six Counties", because they do not want to recognise that a part of Ireland is in the United Kingdom.


English is spoken by almost everyone in Northern Ireland. Another important language is Irish (sometimes called "Irish Gaelic" or "Gaelic") and a language known as Ulster Scots, which comes from Eastern Ulster and Lowland Scotland. The Irish language became extinct in the 20th century, but a revival has led to some usage, especially in Belfast, the Glens of Antrim and counties Tyrone and Fermanagh. This revival has been driven largely through the creation of Irish-language schools. The Irish language is spoken by some nationalists (whether Catholic or Protestant) people. Ulster Scots is almost exclusive to areas of North Antrim and the Ards Peninsula.

Some languages like Chinese, Urdu or Polish are becoming more common in Northern Ireland as people from other countries move to Northern Ireland.

Belfast Agreement

Since the Belfast Agreement (sometimes called the Good Friday Agreement) of Friday, 10 April 1998, there has been mainly peace between the two sides of the community. This agreement was agreed by most of the people in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as the Irish and British governments. It allows for the self-government of Northern Ireland and greater North-South co-operation and co-operation between Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Additionally, it makes clear the right of the people of Northern Ireland to decide their constitutional future and select whether they are British citizens, Irish citizens or both.


The most popular sports in Northern Ireland are association football, gaelic football and rugby union. Athletics, boxing, cricket, golf, hockey, hurling, snooker and motor sports are also common. Most sports are organised on an all-Ireland basis, and in international competitions, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland compete together as Ireland (e.g. Ireland national rugby union team, Ireland national cricket team). The main exception is football.

Football in Northern Ireland is governed by the Irish Football Association (IFA). In international competitions Northern Ireland has its own team - the Northern Ireland national football team. The Northern Ireland team has qualified for three FIFA World Cups (in 1958, 1982 and 1986). Perhaps the most famous player from Northern Ireland was George Best.

Track and field athletes from Northern Ireland can choose to compete either with athletes from Great Britain (as the team "Great Britain & Northern Ireland"), or with athletes from the rest of Ireland (as "Ireland").

Belfast is home to the Ulster Rugby team (which competes in the Pro 12 league and Heineken Cup), and the Belfast Giants ice-hockey team.



  1. English is established by de facto usage.