Ireland is situated in the Atlantic Ocean and separated from Great Britain by the Irish Sea. Half the size of Arkansas, it occupies the entire island except for the six counties that make up Northern Ireland. Ireland resembles a basin—a central plain rimmed with mountains, except in the Dublin region. Ireland's high standard of living, high wage economy and EU membership attract migrants from all over the world.
Although they do have their own distinctive Celtic language and culture, English is the predominant language spoken in Ireland today. Irish people are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality. Dublin is the biggest city,Other major cities are Belfast, Cork, Derry, Limerick, Galway, Lisburn, Waterford, Newry, Kilkenny and Armagh.
History of Ireland
The first evidence of human presence in Ireland may date to about 12,500 years ago. The receding of the ice after the Younger Dryas cold phase of the Quaternary around 9700 BC, heralds the beginning of Prehistoric Ireland, which includes the archaeological periods known as the Mesolithic, the Neolithic from about 4000 BC, the Copper and Bronze Age from about 2300 BC and Iron Age beginning about 600 BC. Ireland's bronze age begins with the emergence of "protohistoric" Gaelic Ireland in the 2nd Millennium BC and ends with arrival of Celtic la Tène culture by central Europe
By the late 4th century AD Christianity had begun to gradually subsume or replace the earlier Celtic polytheism. By the end of the 6th century it had introduced writing along with a predominantly monastic Celtic Christian church, profoundly altering Irish society. Viking raids and settlement from the late 8th century AD resulted in extensive cultural interchange, as well as innovation in military and transport technology. Many of Ireland's towns were founded at this time as Viking trading posts and coinage made its first appearance.
Viking penetration was limited and concentrated along coasts and rivers, and ceased to be a major threat to Gaelic culture after the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. The Norman invasion in 1169 resulted again in a partial conquest of the island and marked the beginning of more than 800 years of English political and military involvement in Ireland. Initially successful, Norman gains were rolled back over succeeding centuries as a Gaelic resurgence reestablished Gaelic cultural preeminence over most of the country, apart from the walled towns and the area around Dublin known as The Pale.
The moderating influence of the Atlantic is felt throughout Ireland. The country therefore does not experience the same range of temperatures throughout the year as more continental countries do. Minimum air temperature falls below zero on about 40 days per year at the inland stations, but on less than 10 days per year in most coastal areas. Air temperatures inland normally reach 18 to 20 °C during summer days, and about 8 °C during wintertime.