Geography of Ireland

Ireland is located between 5.5° and 10.5° west longitude and 51.5° and 55.5° north latitude. From the west, the country is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and from the east by the Irish Sea. The coasts of Ireland and Great Britain are separated by the Strait of St. George. The coastline, relatively flat on the east coast, is strongly indented in the south and west of the island, where there are many bays, bays and small islands. The deepest inland bays are Galway, Donegal and Loch Foyle.

According to, Ireland borders only on Great Britain (the length of the land border with Northern Ireland is 360 km).

The landscape of the country is a rolling lowland with a limestone base, framed by coastal cliffs, the highest of which is Carrantuhill (1040 m). 10% of the territory is occupied by peatlands. The longest river is the Shannon (370 km). There are many lakes on the island, the largest of which are the Loch Corrib lake system: Loch Mask – Loch Carra, Loch Ree and Loch Derg lakes.

The climate of Ireland is temperate maritime, even throughout the year due to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream; mild winters, cool summers, humid and often rainy. The coldest months are January and February with an average temperature of +4-7°C. The warmest months are July and August with average temperatures of +14-16°C. The sunniest months are May and June. The average annual rainfall for the most part is between 800 and 1200 mm, in mountainous areas precipitation can exceed 2000 mm per year.

The flora of Ireland is similar to that found in most of Europe, but much less diverse. The Burren area in County Clare is unique, where species of the Arctic-Alpine zone, preserved from the time of the Ice Age, coexist with Mediterranean ones. Common tree species are oak, ash, birch, alder, willow, walnut. Extensive natural forests in the past were brought down in most of the country as early as the 17th century. and now occupy approx. 6% of the country’s territory, mainly in the center and east of the island. State policy is aimed at expanding plantings, mainly of unpretentious and fast-growing conifers, which take root even in peatlands. The 1976 Wildlife Protection Act protects 68 native flora species.

The fauna includes approximately 380 species of wild birds recorded in Ireland, 135 species nest on the territory of Ireland. Among freshwater fish there are salmon, char, whitefish, eel, pike. Amphibians are represented by frog, newt, toad (1 species each). Of the reptiles, only the common lizard lives. There are 31 species of mammals in the country, including red deer, fox, badger, common squirrel, beaver, gray and common seal and many cetaceans.

Ireland has rather modest mineral reserves. Of industrial importance are the reserves of peat (Ireland is one of the first places in the world in its extraction), natural gas (mined on the shelf), lead-zinc ores (near Navan in County Meath – one of the largest deposits in the world) and copper ore. Sand, gravel and stone are mined for the needs of the construction industry, there are dolomite, silver, barite, limestone, small deposits of coal, iron ore, and pyrites.

Population of Ireland

In 1996-2002, the population increased by 291,249 people, or 8%. The average annual population growth rate is 1.3% (compared to 0.6% in 1991-96). Population growth due to immigration in recent years has exceeded its natural increase (on average 6.8% versus 6.1%). In terms of fertility, Ireland ranks first in Europe. The birth rate is 14.62%, the death rate is 8.01%. Infant mortality 5.43 pers. per 1000 newborns. The average life expectancy for men is 74.41 years; women – 80.12 years.

The ratio between men and women has not actually changed over the past 10 years and is 986 men per 1000 women (2002). Age structure: 0-14 years old – 21.3% of the population, 15-64 years old – 67.3%, 65 years and older – 11.4%.

The retirement age is 65 years. Number of marriages approx. 5%. Literacy of the population is 98%. More than 70% of young people receive higher education.

The ethnic composition is quite homogeneous and practically does not change: the main groups are the Irish (Celts) and the British. The two official languages are Irish (Gaelic) and English. Before the beginning 19th century Irish was the language of the vast majority of the population, but by 1891 more than 85% of the inhabitants spoke only English. With the formation of the Irish state, the situation with the study of the national language has improved significantly, and now 43% of the population speak it. It is the main spoken language in areas along the west coast called Galtakht.

91.6% of the population are Catholics, adherents of the Irish Anglican Church 2.5%, representatives of other faiths 5.9% (Presbyterians – 4%, Methodists – 0.1%, Jews – less than 0.1%, etc.).

Geography of Ireland