Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann [ˈt̪ˠuəʃcəɾˠt̪ˠ ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ] (listen);[7] Ulster-Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom that is variously described as a country, province, territory or region.[8][9][10][11][12] Located in the northeast of the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2011, its population was 1,810,863,[3] constituting about 30% of the island's population and about 3% of the UK's population. The Northern Ireland Assembly (colloquially referred to as Stormont after its location), established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998, holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters, while other areas are reserved for the British government. Northern Ireland co-operates with the Republic of Ireland in several areas.[13]

Northern Ireland
  • Tuaisceart Éireann  (Irish)
  • Norlin Airlann  (Scots)
Anthem: Various
Location of Northern Ireland (dark green)

 in Europe (green & dark grey)
 in the United Kingdom (green)

StatusCountry
(constituent unit)
Capital
and largest city
Belfast
54°36′N 5°55′W
Languages[b]English
Regional languages
Ethnic groups
(2011)
Religion
(2011)
GovernmentConsociational devolved legislature within unitary constitutional monarchy
 Monarch
Elizabeth II
Paul Givan
Michelle O'Neill
Parliament of the United Kingdom
 Secretary of StateBrandon Lewis
 House of Commons18 MPs (of 650)
LegislatureNorthern Ireland Assembly
Devolution
3 May 1921
18 July 1973
17 July 1974
19 November 1998
Area
 Total
14,130 km2 (5,460 sq mi)[1]
Population
 2019 estimate
1,893,700[2]
 2011 census
1,810,863[3]
 Density
133/km2 (344.5/sq mi)
GVA2018 estimate
 • Total£49 billion[4][page needed]
 • Per capita£26,000
HDI (2019)0.899[5]
very high
CurrencyPound sterling (GBP; £)
Time zoneUTC (Greenwich Mean Time)
 Summer (DST)
UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Driving sideleft
Calling code+44[c]
ISO 3166 codeGB-NIR
  1. The official flag of Northern Ireland is the Union Jack de jure.[6] The Ulster Banner was used by the Parliament of Northern Ireland from 1953 until the latter was abolished in 1973. The Ulster Banner is still used by some organisations and entities and has been adopted as an unofficial flag of the region by unionists but its use is controversial. See Northern Ireland flags issue for more.
  2. ^ Northern Ireland has no official language. English serves as the de facto language of government and diplomacy and is the de jure language of legal proceedings. Irish and Ulster Scots are officially recognised by Her Majesty's Government as minority languages.
  3. ^ +44 is always followed by 28 when calling landlines. The code is 028 within the UK and 048 from the Republic of Ireland where it is treated as a domestic call.
The traditional counties of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, creating a devolved government for the six northeastern counties. The majority of Northern Ireland's population were unionists, who wanted to remain within the United Kingdom.[14] They were generally the Protestant descendants of colonists from Great Britain. Meanwhile, the majority in Southern Ireland (which became the Irish Free State in 1922), and a significant minority in Northern Ireland, were Irish nationalists and Catholics who wanted a united independent Ireland.[15][16][17][18] Today, the former generally see themselves as British and the latter generally see themselves as Irish, while a Northern Irish or Ulster identity is claimed by a large minority from all backgrounds.[19]

The creation of Northern Ireland was accompanied by violence both in defence of and against partition. During 1920–22, the capital Belfast saw major communal violence, mainly between Protestant unionist and Catholic nationalist civilians.[20] More than 500 were killed[21] and more than 10,000 became refugees, mostly Catholics.[22] In the following decades, Northern Ireland had an unbroken series of Unionist Party governments.[23] There was informal mutual segregation by both communities,[24] and the Unionist governments were accused of discrimination against the Irish nationalist and Catholic minority,[25] in what First Minister of Northern Ireland, David Trimble, called a "cold house" for Catholics.[26] In the late 1960s, a campaign to end discrimination against Catholics and nationalists was opposed by loyalists, who saw it as a republican front.[27] This unrest sparked the Troubles; a thirty-year conflict involving republican and loyalist paramilitaries and state forces, which claimed over 3,500 lives and injured 50,000 others.[28][29] The 1998 Good Friday Agreement was a major step in the peace process, including paramilitary disarmament and security normalisation, although sectarianism and segregation remain major social problems, and sporadic violence has continued.[30]

The economy of Northern Ireland was the most industrialised in Ireland at the time of Partition of Ireland, but declined as a result of the political and social turmoil of the Troubles.[31] Its economy has grown significantly since the late 1990s. The initial growth came from the "peace dividend" and increased trade with the Republic of Ireland, continuing with a significant increase in tourism, investment and business from around the world. Unemployment in Northern Ireland peaked at 17.2% in 1986, dropping to 6.1% for June–August 2014 and down by 1.2 percentage points over the year,[32] similar to the UK figure of 6.2%.[33]

Cultural links between Northern Ireland, the rest of Ireland, and the rest of the UK are complex, with Northern Ireland sharing both the culture of Ireland and the culture of the United Kingdom. In many sports, the island of Ireland fields a single team, with the Northern Ireland national football team being an exception to this. Northern Ireland competes separately at the Commonwealth Games, and people from Northern Ireland may compete for either Great Britain or Ireland at the Olympic Games.