Term Paper: Geography of Ireland Is an Island Situated

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Geography of Ireland

Ireland is an island situated in the North Atlantic Ocean in northwestern Europe. Ireland is noted for its low central plains, as well the ring of coastal mountains that surrounds the island. Ireland's highest mountain peak is Carrauntoohil, which is elevated 3,414 feet above sea level. The western coast of the Island is particularly rugged; it contains numerous islands, headlands, and peninsulas. Ireland is divided by the River Shannon, which is also the island's longest river. It runs for 161 miles and contains an estuary of 70 miles. The Shannon flows south from County Cavan, meeting the Atlantic Ocean south of Limerick. Ireland also has a number of lakes, the largest of which is Lough Neagh.

Location

Ireland, which consists of two different nations - Ireland and the UK constituent country Northern Ireland - is situated west of Great Britain at approximately 53° N. And 8° W. Ireland encompasses a total area of 32,591 square miles. The island is separated from Great Britain by the Irish Sea. Between Ireland and Continental Europe, one finds the Celtic Sea.

Physical Features

One of the more striking features of Ireland's geography is its stunning and numerous mountain ranges. Some of these include the Macgillycuddy's Reeks, Mournes, Ox Mountains, Bluestack Mountains, Blackstair Mountains, Wicklow Mountains, Sperrin Mountains, Comeragh Mountains, Derryveagh Mountains, Glens of Antrim, and Nephinbeg Mountains. There are also some ranges situated inland in southern Ireland. These include the Slieve Bloom Mountains, the Silvermine, and the Galtee Mountains, which are the highest inland range on the island. Macgillycuddy's Reeks, a series of glacier-carved sandstone mountains, feature the highest peak, Carrauntoohil, which is 3,414 feet high. Ireland's mountains are not very high - it only contains three peaks over a thousand meters. Another 457 mountains exceed five hundred meters.

Physical features of Ireland.

Ireland's main river is the River Shannon. At two hundred forty miles in length, it is the longest river in both Great Britain and Ireland. It separates Ireland's boggy midlands from the western half of the country. Along its course, the Shannon runs in to three lakes - Lough Derg, Lough Allen, and Lough Ree, of which Lough Derg is the largest. Just after Limerick City, the Shannon flows in to the Atlantic Ocean. Besides the Shannon, Ireland's major rivers include the River Liffey, River Boyne, River Lee, River Barrow, River Blackwater, River Nore, and the River Suir.

Climate

Ireland boasts a temperate climate. Countries at similar latitudes, however, tend to be a lot colder than Ireland; obvious examples of this would be Poland and Newfoundland. This is due to the North Atlantic drift, which warms the island up. The island's prevailing wind originates in the southwest. The high mountains on the west coast of Ireland effectively break that wind. For this reason, there is a lot of rain in western Ireland. Valentia Island, situated off the west coast of County Kerry, receives twice as much rainfall as the eastern side of the island. About sixty percent of Ireland's annual rainfall occurs between the months of August and January.

Ireland's coldest months are January and February; during this period, the average daily temperature falls between four and seven degrees Celsius. The warmest months of the year are July and August; during this time, the mean range falls between fourteen and sixteen degrees Celsius. Ireland gets the most sun in the months of May and June, during which the sun shines for as much as seven hours per day. There are very few extreme weather conditions in Ireland, when compared to countries in Continental Europe. Some of these exceptions occur in the winter months - between December and February - when windstorms come to the Western coastal counties. In the summer months, extreme thunderstorms occasionally hit the middle and western parts of Ireland.

Land Usage

In the year 1970, offshore gas exploring began. The following year, the Kinsale Head gas field was discovered. In the late 1980s, a smaller gas field, Ballycotton, was discovered. In 1996, the Corrib gas field was found. The latter project has taken a long time to launch owing to massive opposition to the plan of refining the gas onshore, rather than at sea. The gas that is found in Ireland's fields is pumped on to the shore and utilized for both industrial and domestic means. A more recent discovery is the Helvick oil field. It is believed to contain in excess of twenty five million oil barrels.

Ireland has the distinction of being Europe's largest zinc producer. The island operates three mines, at Navan, Lisheen, and Galmoy. Other deposits on the island include, gold, gravel, silver, sand, gypsum, talc, roofing slate, building stone, calcite, dolomite, and limestone aggregate.

More recently, it was discovered by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources that there was potentially trillions of Euros worth of oil and natural gas in Irish waters. It has been confirmed that there is at least ten billion barrels of oil in the Irish Atlantic waters; this is said to be worth in excess of four hundred fifty billion Euros.

There is also tons of gas and oil on shore in Ireland. One example of this is the Lough Allen basin, which is believed to contain over nine trillion cubic feet of gas and over a billion barrels of oil. Some fields, such as the Spanish Point field, are already being exploited; it is said to contain over a trillion cubic feet of gas and over two hundred million barrels of oil, valued at nearly twenty billion Euros.

Environmental Elements

Ireland's lowland consists largely of limestone, which is covered with glacial deposits of sand and clay. There are numerous lakes and bogs, the largest of which is the Bog of Allen. Ireland's coastal mountains vary a great deal in their geological structures. In the south, they are largely made of old red sandstone with limestone river valleys. The northeast of the country consists mainly of a basalt plateau, while many of the country's other major mountains consist largely of granite. Approximately fifty million years ago, volcanic activity caused the basalt formation known as Giant's Causeway, which is situated in County Antrim. Originally, the basalts formed part of the Thulean Plateau, the formation of which occurred during the Paleogene period.

As Ireland became an island shortly after the last Ice Age, it has fewer animal and plant species than Great Britain and Continental Europe. There are many different habitat types on the island, however, including farmland, open woodland, conifer plantations, peat bogs, temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, and numerous coastal habitats.

There are twenty-six land mammal species native to Ireland. Some of these include the red fox, badger, and hedgehog. Some of the less common ones include the Irish hare, pine marten, and red deer.

Forests cover about nine percent of the island. Ireland boasts many different species of wild flower.

Over the years, intensive agriculture has placed a lot of pressure on Ireland's biodiversity. The government is now making reforms in an effort to reverse the damage.

Demographics

Ireland consists of four provinces and thirty-two counties. The provinces are Ulster, Connacht, Munster, and Leinster. Six of the nine counties that form Ulster form Northern Ireland; the other twenty-six make up the Republic of Ireland.

Twenty of the Republic of Ireland's counties are considered to be units of local government. Northern Ireland had a major administrative re-organization occur in the year 1973, during which time twenty-six single tier districts replaced the country's six traditional counties and two county boroughs.

Ireland has a total population of approximately six million. Most people reside on the east coast, particularly in the main cities of Dublin (Republic of Ireland) and Belfast (Northern Ireland), and the areas surrounding them.

Population density map of Ireland.

In recent years, due to an increase in salaries and quality of living, Ireland has experienced a wave of emigration. Many of the emigrants are coming from the newest European Union countries, such as Poland and Romania. Many Mainland Chinese have begun immigrating to Ireland in recent years, as well. Nigerians form the largest African population in Ireland.

The first official language of Ireland is Irish, however most people there speak English. Ireland's main immigrant languages are Chinese and Polish.

The most populous religion in Ireland is the Roman Catholic Church, which accounts for over seventy three percent of the island. Most of the remaining population belongs to one of the Protestant denominations. The largest of these is the Anglican Church of Ireland. There is a growing Muslim population in Ireland, thanks to a recent influx of emigrants. Ireland has a tiny Jewish population, which has been declining in number in recent years. Approximately four percent of Ireland's denizens describe themselves as having no religion.

Economic Development and Trade

Under the government of W.T. Cosgrave, Ireland pursued a low tax, non-interventionist approach throughout the 1920s and early 1930s. The main area of focus during this period was on agriculture - particularly livestock farming. In the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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