Basic facts
Ireland
Ireland is an island west of mainland Europe, encircled by the Atlantic and the Irish Sea (which divides Ireland from Great Britain).Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe, and the twentieth-largest island in the world. It lies to the north-west of continental Europe and is surrounded by hundreds of islands and islets. To the east of Ireland, separated by the Irish Sea, is the island of Great Britain. Politically, the sovereign state of Ireland covers five-sixths of the island, with Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) covering the remainder in the north-east. The population of the island is slightly over 6 million (2006), with 4.5 million in the Republic and an estimated almost 1.75 million in Northern Ireland. The land mass is 32,595 square miles and shaped "saucer-like", the coastal areas being mountainous and the midlands low and flat.The island of Ireland is subdivided into four provinces: Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. Dublin is a catical and largest city of the Ireland. After Dublin, Ireland's largest cities are Belfast, Cork, Derry, Limerick, Galway, Lisburn, Waterford, Newry, Kilkenny and Armagh.

There are three World Heritage Sites on the island; these are the Bend of the Boyne, Skellig Michael and the Giant's Causeway. A number of other places are on the tentative list, for example the Burren and Mount Stewart. Some of the most visited sites in Ireland include Bunratty Castle, the Rock of Cashel, the Cliffs of Moher, Holy Cross Abbey and Blarney Castle. Historically important monastic sites include Glendalough and Clonmacnoise, which are maintained as national monuments. Dublin is the most heavily touristed region, and home to several top attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse and Book of Kells. The west and south west (including the Killarney and Dingle regions in County Kerry, and Galway and the Aran Islands) are also popular tourist destinations.