• Ireland’s landmass has a total area of 84,412 square kilometres, with its coastline stretching for 3152km. Its longest river is the Shannon (358km), largest lake Lough Neagh (387 square kilometres) and its highest point is Carrauntoohil in Kerry (1038m).

Since 1921 the country has been divided into what’s now called the Republic of Ireland, consisting of 26 counties, and Northern Ireland, subject to devolved British rule, which comprises six counties.

The Republic’s population is roughly 4.4 million, with 1.7 million residing in the Greater Dublin area, while Northern Ireland’s population is approximately 1.8 million, with some 650,000 occupying the Greater Belfast area.

The UK’s 2001 Census reported that 44 percent of Northern Ireland’s population is from a Catholic background and 53 percent from a Protestant background, while the Republic’s 2006 Census revealed that 88 percent of its population is Catholic.

Irish is the national language of the Republic, according to the constitution, with English recognized as a second official language. However, only around fifteen percent of the population has a good competence in Irish.

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