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.
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.