Ireland vs Northern Ireland
Ireland and Northern Ireland are two countries that share the island of Ireland. Ireland, officially the Republic of Ireland, is an independent sovereign nation while Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.
A long time ago, the island of Ireland was actually united under British rule. However, a war of independence during the onset of the 20th century eventually saw that separation of the Irish Free State from that of Britain. The Irish Free State, however, did not include six counties of Ireland that formed Northern Ireland. Civil unrest continued to be prevalent in Northern Ireland until the late 1990s when the Good Friday Agreement was concluded in 1998. While Northern Ireland continued to be represented in the British Parliament, the Republic of Ireland, as the Irish Free State came to be known, became a democracy.
Ireland and Northern Ireland actually share the same climate, as they share the same island, which is oceanic and temperate. Being warmed by the Gulf Stream, Ireland experiences a warm summer and a milder winter compared to every other country in the same latitude. Although inland areas are experiencing warmer than average summers and colder than average winters.
Ireland is mostly agricultural since the Industrial Revolution passed it mostly because of the lack of coal and iron in the island; however that is not the only reason. The Republic of Ireland was once considered as the Celtic Tiger because of the massive growth it experienced from the 1980s towards the 1990s. However, in recent years, because of the global financial crisis, Ireland’s economy has experienced great recession, and even now, it may be possible that they are going to need a bailout from the United Kingdom, their neighbor. In spite of this Ireland is still considered as third most ‘economically free’ economy in the world according to the Index of Economic Freedom. In 2005 even, Ireland was named as one of the best places to live in. The economy of Northern Ireland, on the other hand, is the smallest of the four countries under the United Kingdom and they mostly focus on shipbuilding and rope and textile manufacturing. Because of the Time of Troubles, a period in Northern Ireland history that was filled with civil unrest, the Northern Irish economy has been severely handicapped due to lack of investments and growth. However, since the Good Friday Agreement that marked the end of the Troubles, Northern Ireland has seen increased investments over the years. Unemployment in Northern Ireland is the lowest of all countries in the UK, even with the recent global recession.
Ireland boasts many tourist attractions. Northern Ireland is the site of the Giant’s Causeway, a coastal area that consists of over 40000 interlocked basalt columns found specifically in County Antrim. It is the most popular of the tourist destinations. The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with two others: Skellig Michael, an island about 9 miles off the coast of County Kerry famous for being the center for monastic life for Irish Christian monks, and Brú na Bóinne, a prehistoric megalithic site that composes of Neolithic tombs, standing stones and henges found in County Meath. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is also a major attraction, as well as Blarney Castle, home of the Blarney Stone.
Major entry points in Ireland are Dublin Airport, Belfast International Airport, Cork Airport, Shannon Airport, and Ireland West Airport. Major port cities are Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Rosslare, Derry and Waterford. Ferry transport is the main transportation, aside from airplanes, to travel between Ireland and Britain. Public transport mostly consists of railways and buses and taxis.
Ireland has many hotels throughout the island however, if you are travelling on the country side, you might want to try staying in one of the many bed and breakfasts that was converted from old houses or cottages. However, in recent years, because of the lack of funding, some of the unconverted cottages and old houses have been demolished because of the need for more grazing land for agricultural purposes.
The island of Ireland should definitely be on your itinerary if you are ever planning to travel to Europe. With its rich history and culture, it definitely shouldn’t be missed.