Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann [ˈt̪ˠuəʃcəɾˠt̪ˠ ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ] (listen);[6] Ulster-Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is variously described as a country, province or region.[2][7][8][9][10] Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2021, its population was 1,903,100,[11] making up about 27% of Ireland's population and about 3% of the UK's population. The Northern Ireland Assembly (colloquially referred to as Stormont after its location), established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998, holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters, while other areas are reserved for the UK Government. Northern Ireland cooperates with the Republic of Ireland in several areas.[12]

Northern Ireland
Anthem: Various
Location of Northern Ireland (dark green)

 in Europe (green & dark grey)
 in the United Kingdom (green)

StatusCountry
(constituent unit)
Capital
and largest city
Belfast
54°36′N 5°55′W
Recognised languages[b]
Ethnic groups
(2021)
Religion
(2021)
GovernmentConsociational devolved legislature within unitary constitutional monarchy
 Monarch
Charles III
Vacant
Vacant
Parliament of the United Kingdom
 Secretary of StateChris Heaton-Harris
 House of Commons18 MPs (of 650)
LegislatureNorthern Ireland Assembly
Devolution
3 May 1921
18 July 1973
17 July 1974
19 November 1998
Area
 Total
14,130 km2 (5,460 sq mi)[2]
Population
 2021 census
1,903,100
 Density
135/km2 (349.6/sq mi)
GVA2020 estimate
 • Total£43.664 billion[3]
 • Per capita£23,035
HDI (2019)0.899[4]
very high
CurrencyPound sterling (GBP; £)
Time zoneUTC (Greenwich Mean Time)
 Summer (DST)
UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Driving sideleft
Calling code+44[c]
ISO 3166 codeGB-NIR
  1. The official flag of Northern Ireland is the Union Jack de jure.[5] The Ulster Banner was used by the Parliament of Northern Ireland from 1953 until the latter was abolished in 1973. The Ulster Banner is still used by some organisations and entities and used to represent Northern Ireland when it is playing as a national team. See Northern Ireland flags issue for more.
  2. ^ Northern Ireland has no official language. English serves as the de facto language of government and diplomacy and is the de jure language of legal proceedings. Irish and Ulster Scots are officially recognised by His Majesty's Government as minority languages.
  3. ^ +44 is always followed by 28 when calling landlines. The code is 028 within the UK and 048 from the Republic of Ireland where it is treated as a domestic call.
The traditional counties of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, creating a devolved government for the six northeastern counties. As was intended, Northern Ireland had a unionist majority, who wanted to remain in the United Kingdom;[13] they were generally the Protestant descendants of colonists from Britain. Meanwhile, the majority in Southern Ireland (which became the Irish Free State in 1922), and a significant minority in Northern Ireland, were Irish nationalists and Catholics who wanted a united independent Ireland.[14] Today, the former generally see themselves as British and the latter generally see themselves as Irish, while a Northern Irish or Ulster identity is claimed by a significant minority from all backgrounds.[15]

The creation of Northern Ireland was accompanied by violence both in defence of and against partition. During the conflict of 1920–22, the capital Belfast saw major communal violence, mainly between Protestant unionist and Catholic nationalist civilians.[16] More than 500 were killed[17] and more than 10,000 became refugees, mostly Catholics.[18] For the next fifty years, Northern Ireland had an unbroken series of Unionist Party governments.[19] There was informal mutual segregation by both communities,[20] and the Unionist governments were accused of discrimination against the Irish nationalist and Catholic minority.[21] In the late 1960s, a campaign to end discrimination against Catholics and nationalists was opposed by loyalists, who saw it as a republican front.[22] This unrest sparked the Troubles, a thirty-year conflict involving republican and loyalist paramilitaries and state forces, which claimed over 3,500 lives and injured 50,000 others.[23][24] The 1998 Good Friday Agreement was a major step in the peace process, including paramilitary disarmament and security normalisation, although sectarianism and segregation remain major social problems, and sporadic violence has continued.[25]

The economy of Northern Ireland was the most industrialised in Ireland at the time of Partition of Ireland, but declined, a decline exacerbated by the political and social turmoil of the Troubles.[26] Its economy has grown significantly since the late 1990s. The initial growth came from the "peace dividend" and increased trade with the Republic of Ireland, continuing with a significant increase in tourism, investment, and business from around the world. Unemployment in Northern Ireland peaked at 17.2% in 1986, dropping to 6.1% for June–August 2014 and down by 1.2 percentage points over the year,[27] similar to the UK figure of 6.2%.[28]

Cultural links between Northern Ireland, the rest of Ireland, and the rest of the UK are complex, with Northern Ireland sharing both the culture of Ireland and the culture of the United Kingdom. In many sports, the island of Ireland fields a single team, with the Northern Ireland national football team being an exception to this. Northern Ireland competes separately at the Commonwealth Games, and people from Northern Ireland may compete for either Great Britain or Ireland at the Olympic Games.


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