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Текст для читання "Northern Ireland" (країнознавство)

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Northern Ireland is the smallest country in the United Kingdom. It makes up part of the UK along with England, Scotland and Wales, but is situated on an island in Western Europe called Ireland.

Northern Ireland takes up one-sixth of Ireland, while the rest of Ireland is an independent nation, the Republic of Ireland.

Even though he is the Irish patron saint, St Patrick was actually born in Britain not Ireland! Some believe he was kidnapped as a teenager and brought to Ireland. St Patrick was credited for bringing the religion of Christianity to Ireland. St Patrick's Day is celebrated annually in Northern Ireland as it is in the rest of Ireland on March 17. It is a public holiday and celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, and the wearing of green clothes or shamrocks.

Belfast is the largest centre of population, with more than a third of people in Northern Ireland living in or near the capital. Londonderry or Derry is the largest city after Belfast. It is found in the northwest of the country beside the River Foyle.

Like the rest of the UK, the pound sterling is the currency of the country.

English is the most commonly spoken language but Irish (or 'Irish Gaelic') is also significant, as well as a language known as Ulster Scots. With more people from other countries moving to Northern Ireland, other languages like Chinese, Urdu or Polish are also becoming more common.

One of the most popular meals in Northern Ireland is known as the 'Ulster Fry': bacon, egg, soda bread, sausage, potato bread, mushrooms, fried tomato and baked beans! Potatoes are a key ingredient in the food of Northern Ireland. Traditional dishes include champ (mashed potato with spring onions), farl (potato bread) and boxty (potato cake).

Northern Ireland enjoys its sport! The most popular are football, gaelic football and rugby union, although athletics, boxing, cricket, golf, hurling (an outdoor stick-and-ball game similar to hockey and lacrosse and traditional in Ireland) and snooker are also popular.

Despite its small geographical size, Northern Ireland is a country of culture, producing famous writers like Seamus Heaney and C.S. Lewis as well as noted actors like Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt and Kenneth Branagh.

Top 10 facts

1. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, but it makes its own laws. The Parliament buildings of the Northern Irish government, in Belfast, are called Stormont.

2. After Scotland, Northern Ireland is the second most sparsely populated country in the UK.

3. In 1921 the island of Ireland was divided into two parts. Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom and the rest became known as the Republic of Ireland.

4. Sometimes Northern Ireland is called Ulster, the ancient name of that part of Ireland.

5. Although English is the most popular language in Northern Ireland, Chinese is the most widely spoken minority language!

6. Northern Ireland is divided into six counties: Antrim, Armagh, Derry (Londonderry), Tyrone, Fermanagh, and Down.

7. Lough Neagh is a huge lake in Northern Ireland – in fact it's the biggest lake in the British Isles and every county except Fermanagh touches the shores of the lake!

8. The Giant's Causeway is a famous rocky area of the coast in County Antrim. It's made up of thousands of hexagonal blocks of rock, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.

9. Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland. The land that Belfast occupies has been occupied since the Bronze Age!

10. The population of Northern Ireland is about 1.8 million.

Did you know?

  1. With an average of 157 wet days a year, it rains less in Belfast than it does in Scotland, but the capital of Northern Ireland is still wetter than Dublin, the Irish capital!
  2. The world-famous ship the Titanic was built and launched from Belfast Harbour. At the time it launched, it was the largest man-made moving object on Earth! The Titanic was built by the Belfast shipyard Harland & Wolff in 1911. The Titanic sadly sank after hitting an iceberg on April 15 1912, on her very first voyage.
  3. Although Northern Ireland is sometimes called Ulster, the ancient name for the part of Ireland, the old Ulster actually included areas that are now part of the Republic of Ireland.
  4. Northern Ireland is clearly home to the young! Almost 46% of the total population of Northern Ireland are under 30 years old.
  5. As in the rest of Ireland, there are no snakes or toads in the country!
  6. At its closest point, Northern Ireland is only 13 miles across the sea from the Scottish coast. Apparently, on a clear day you can stand in Antrim, look across the water and see houses in Scotland!
  7. The Northern Ireland football team has qualified for three world cups, in 1958, 1982 and 1986, and George Best is considered one of the most famous players to come from the country. Other sports legends to come from Northern Ireland are snooker player Alex Higgins and Formula One racer Eddie Irvine.
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