The Geography of Ireland



Celtic tribes settled on the island in the 4th century B.C. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian BORU defeated the Danes in 1014. English invasions began in the 12th century and set off more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish struggle marked by fierce rebellions and harsh repressions. A failed 1916 Easter Monday Rebellion touched off several years of guerrilla warfare that in 1921 resulted in independence from the UK for 26 southern counties; six northern (Ulster) counties remained part of the United Kingdom. In 1948 Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth; it joined the European Community in 1973. Irish governments have sought the peaceful unification of Ireland and have cooperated with Britain against terrorist groups. A peace settlement for Northern Ireland, known as the Good Friday Agreement and approved in 1998, is currently being implemented.


Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain


Land Boundaries

Maritime Claims

Land Use

Environmental Current Issues

arable land: 19.49% permanent crops: 0.04% other: 80.47% (1998 est.)

Environmental international agreements

Party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Endangered Species, Marine Life Conservation

Geography note

Strategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe; over 40% of the population resides within 97 km of Dublin

Related Materials


Postcolonial OV Ireland

Last modified: 26 May 2003