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Natural beauty!

What better place is there to learn English than in Ireland, a country renowned for the warmth and friendliness of its people, the stunning natural beauty of its landscapes and coasts and the richness of its music, theatre and literary traditions? George Bernard Shaw claimed that the best English is spoken in Ireland. With many of the most famous names of English literature being Irish – Yeats, Beckett, O‘Casey, Joyce – and with the Irish famous for the art of conversation…. it is easy to understand why.
Large Island

Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe. It lies in the Atlantic Ocean and it is composed of the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), a state which covers five sixths of the island (south, east, west and north-west), and Northern Ireland; part of the United Kingdom, which covers the northeastern sixth of the island. The population of the island is approximately 5.8 million people (2001); 4.1 million in the Republic of Ireland (1.6 million in Greater Dublin) and 1.7 million, in Northern Ireland (0.8 million in Greater Belfast).
A ring of coastal mountains surrounds low central plains. The highest peak is Carrauntuohill (Irish: Corrán Tuathail), which is 3414 feet (1041 m). The island is bisected by the River Shannon, at 161 miles (259 km) the longest river in Ireland or Britain. The island's lush vegetation, a product of its mild climate and frequent but soft rainfall, earns it the sobriquet "Emerald Isle". The island's area is 32,477 square miles (84,079 km²).

History

Ireland is divided into four provinces: Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. In Irish these are referred to as Cúige's ( Cúige - meaning fifths). Previously there were five provinces - Connacht, Munster, Ulster, Leinster and Meath, comprising the counties of Meath, Westmeath and Longford. These were further divided into 32 counties for administrative purposes. Six of the Ulster counties remain under British sovereignty as Northern Ireland following Ireland's partition in 1922 (the remaining 26 forming present-day Republic of Ireland); since the UK's 1974 reshuffle these county boundaries no longer exist in Northern Ireland for administrative purposes, although Fermanagh District Council is almost identical to the county. In the Republic, the county boundaries are still adhered to for local government; albeit with Tipperary and Dublin subdivided (some cities also have their own administrative regions). For election constituencies, some counties are merged or divided, but constitutionally the boundaries have to be observed. Across Ireland, the 32 counties are still used in sports and in some other cultural areas and retain a strong sense of local identity. Ireland's least arable land lies in the south-western and western counties. These areas are largely spectacularly mountainous and rocky, with beautiful green vistas.

Now a modern and prosperous European country, Ireland still treasures its strong cultural and historical traditions. In fact, the traditional and the modern sit comfortably side by side. Ireland is a safe, uncrowded country with clean waters and clean air. It provides an ideal location for a wide variety of outdoor sports and pastimes, among them fishing, horse riding, sailing, golf and hill-walking. For the less active, there is a range of indoor social and cultural activities too.






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