World Facts

What Continent is Ireland In?

Ireland is an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, and is part of the continent of Europe.

Location of Ireland

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic, which is the segment of the greater Atlantic Ocean that lies to the north of the Equator. More specifically, the island is located in the north-western part of Europe. Ireland is flanked by latitudes 51° and 56° north and by longitudes 11° and 5° west. Ireland is next to the island of Great Britain, and the two are separated by the Irish Sea and the North Channel which has a width of 14 miles at its narrowest point. The northern Atlantic Ocean is found to the west of the island while the Celtic Sea is located to its south. The Celtic Sea is located in France flanked by Ireland and Brittany. The island itself is massive with a total area of 32,595 square miles. Close to Ireland and Great Britain are smaller islands which are collectively known as the British Isles. However, the British Isles is a contentious term in relation to island considering that the island is occupied by two nations. As such, an alternative and neutral term is usually used: Britain and Ireland. Among these islands, Ireland is the second-largest in terms of size while it’s third in Europe and twentieth globally.

The Republic of Ireland

The island of Ireland is split between the Republic of Ireland to the south and the UK region of Northern Ireland to the north. The Republic of Ireland occupies 83% of the island of Ireland and is home to 4.75 million inhabitants. The Republic of Ireland is composed of 26 counties. Dublin is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Ireland. The official languages of Ireland are English and Irish, also known as Gaelic or Irish Gaelic. The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922 established the Irish Free State, followed by the Republic of Ireland Act of 1948 which officially declared it as a republic in 1949. The Republic of Ireland joined the United Nations in 1955 and the European Economic Community in 1973. The Republic of Ireland has a nominal GDP of $357 billion placing it 42nd in the world, and a PPP GDP of $363 billion placing it in 56th position globally. The Republic of Ireland is known for being the home of Guinness beer and Jameson whiskey with both the Guinness Storehouse and the Jameson Distillery in Dublin. The Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, and The Burren are some of the Republic of Ireland's famous geographical landmarks. The country is also famous for its many cathedrals and castles such as Blarney Castle, home to the Blarney Stone, the Rock of Cashel.

Geography of Ireland

At the center of the island, there is a circle of coastal mountains that surround the low plains located at the center. The highest mountain is called Carrauntoohil in County Kerry rising to heights of 3,406 feet above sea level. The province of Leinster has some of the best lands for farming on the island while the western regions provide spectacular green panoramic scenes with their mountainous and rocky landscape. The River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland stretching as long as 240 miles, originates in County Cavan in the northwestern part and flows 70 miles to the mid-west in Limerick city.

Different parts of the island have varying geological provinces. In the far west, for example, around County Donegal and Galway, there is a medium to high grade igneous and metamorphic complex of Caledonide affinity, like the Scottish Highlands. A province of Ordovician and Silurian rocks, analogous to Scotland’s Southern Uplands is across Ulter and stretching south to Longford and Navan. Even further to the south, there is a region of granite intrusives along the coastline of County Wexford, similar to the one in Wales.

Government of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is an autonomous state with a parliamentary republic. It is composed of a legislature (Oireachtas) with an upper house (Seanad Éireann) and lower house (Dáil Éireann). The head of state is the president (Uachtarán) and the head of government is the prime minister (Taoiseach).

The two nations of the island of Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the UK's Northern Ireland have an open border, and both of them are part of the Common Travel Area. Since both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom are affiliates of the European Union, there is free movement resources across the border, that is capital, people, goods, and services. Despite being divided amongst two nations with two currencies, the euro and the sterling pound, more commercial activities are done based on an all-Ireland basis; something made easier by the EU membership of both nations.

More in World Facts