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Background Information on Northern Ireland Society - Geography



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Text and Research: Fionnuala McKenna
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

Geography

The following (draft) page provides some brief geographical details on Northern Ireland.

.
Northern Ireland
All of Ireland
Total Area :
5,456 square miles
32,593 square miles
Land:
5,156 square miles
31,557 square miles
Water:
300 square miles
1,036 square miles
Coastline:
232 miles
1,970 miles
Maps:
Outline map NI
Outline map Ireland

  • The island of Ireland is situated in the Atlantic ocean, west of Britain, and to the extreme north-west of Europe. It lies between latitude 51.5 and 55.5 degrees North, and longitude 5.5 and 10.5 degrees West.
  • Ireland shares the same time zone as London that is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
  • Belfast, situated in county Antrim, is the capital city of Northern Ireland.

  • There are five cities in the region: Armagh, Belfast, Derry, Lisburn, and Newry. (Lisburn and Newry were granted city status in 2002.)
  • There is a significant imbalance in the industrial development between the east and west of the River Bann. The East of the Bann tends to be largely industrialised, whilst the West remains more agriculturally based.

Climate:

The climate of Ireland is influenced by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and on the whole, it tends to be quite temperate. Its relatively small size and the prevailing south-west winds also give a fairly uniform temperature over the whole country. Winters tend to be generally mild, and summers generally cool.

  • Coldest months of the year: usually January and February. Average temperature: 4oc-7oc.

  • Warmest months of the year: July and August. Average temperature: 14oc-16oc.

  • Sunniest months of the year: May and June. Average sunshine per day: 5-7 hours.

  • Average rainfall for Ireland as a whole is between 800 and 1200 mm (or 31" to 41") per year.


Landscape:

  • The main rivers of Northern Ireland are the river Foyle and the Upper and Lower Bann. The river Foyle forms part of the northwestern boundary and flows into Lough Foyle at Derry. The Upper Bann rises in the Mourne Mountains and empties into Lough Neagh while the Lower Bann flows out of Lough Neagh to the North Channel. There are however many other rivers such as the Lagan, Erne, Blackwater, and Bush.

  • There are three main mountainous areas of considerable height in Northern Ireland. These are the Sperrin Mountains in the northwest, the Antrim Plateau which is along the northeastern coast, and the Mourne Mountains in the southeast. The highest point in the country is Slieve Donard (2796 ft), a peak in the Mourne Mountains, near Newcastle in county Down.

Main landmarks include:

  • The Giant's Causeway, which is a rock formation consisting of thousands of closely placed, polygonal pillars of black basalt. It is located on the North Antrim coast, and is one of Northern Ireland's main tourist attractions.

  • Lough Neagh, which is approximately 150 square miles, and the largest lake (in terms of surface area) in Britain and Ireland. It is situated roughly in the middle of Northern Ireland.


Counties of Ireland - Population, Major Towns/Cities, Land Area, and Rank by Area, (1996 Estimated Figures)

County

Population

Major City / Town

Land Area
square miles

Rank by Area

Antrim, NI

562216

Belfast

1093

9th

Armagh, NI

141585

Armagh

484

28th

Carlow

41616

Carlow

346

31st

Cavan

52944

Cavan

730

19th

Clare

94006

Ennis

1262

7th

Cork

473277

Cork

2878

1st

Derry, NI

213035

Derry

798

15th

Donegal

129944

Letterkenny

1876

4th

Down, NI

454411

Bangor

945

12th

Dublin

1529102

Dublin

352

30th

Fermanagh, NI

54033

Enniskillen

647

25th

Galway

188976

Galway

2350

2nd

Kerry

126130

Tralee

1815

5th

Kildare

134992

Naas

654

24th

Killkenny

75336

Kilkenny

796

16th

Laois

52945

Portlaoise

664

23rd

Leitrim

25057

Carrick-on-shannon

614

26th

Limerick

192140

Limerick

1030

10th

Longford

30166

Longford

403

29th

Louth

92166

Dundalk

318

32nd

Mayo

111524

Ballina

2159

3rd

Meath

109732

Navan

905

14th

Monaghan

51266

Monaghan

500

27th

Offaly

59080

Tullamore

771

18th

Roscommon

51975

Roscommon

984

11th

Sligo

55821

Sligo

709

22nd

Tipperary

133535

Clonmel

1647

6th

Tyrone, NI

152827

Omagh

1211

8th

Waterford

96295

Waterford

713

20th

Westmeath

92166

Athlone

710

21st

Wexford

104371

Wexford

909

13th

Wicklow

102683

Bray

782

17th

Source: Ireland Almanac and Yearbook of Facts, 2000


Top 10 Land Owners in Northern Ireland (2002)

Rank Owner

Acres

1 The Forestry Service

185,250 acres
(5% of NI)

2 Northern Ireland Water Service

33,000 acres

3 National Trust

27,800 acres

4 Ministry of Defence

7,000 acres

5 Duke of Abercorn

5,500 acres

6 Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

5,335 acres

7 Blackston Houston

4,000 acres

8 Earl of Caledon

2,400 acres

9 Blackwood family

2,000 acres

10 Earl of Erne

2,000 acres

Source: BBC Newsline; 8 April 2002


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