Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is a province of the United Kingdom. It is known for its historic castles and monuments, glacial landscapes, and sweeping coastlines. Here are some facts about Northern Ireland that you should know.

  • Northern Ireland is the smallest country in the UK, with a population of 1.9 million people. Almost half of the population is younger than 30. Although it is part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has its own laws. The country is sometimes called Ulster and is composed of six counties: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Derry-Londonderry, Fermanagh, and Tyrone.
  • God Save the Queen is the country’s national anthem.
  • Northern Ireland was once considered an economic powerhouse but is now one of the United Kingdom’s poorest provinces. The country’s industrial economy included shipbuilding, rope manufacturing, and textiles. However, the economy is now the smallest of all four countries of the United Kingdom.
  • During the U.S. Civil war, Irish linen companies flourished, making Belfast the largest area to produce linen in the world. This is how Belfast earned the nickname Linenopolis.
  • The top six political parties are: (1) the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), found by Ian Paisley in 1971 (2) Sinn Fein, a group that advocates for a united Ireland void of British rule; (3) Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which supports the reunification of Ireland through democracy; (4) Ulster Unionist; (5) Traditional Unionist Voice; and (6) Alliance.
  • In 1920, the Government of Ireland Act instituted an official political body in Northern Ireland. In Belfast, a unionist parliament opened in 1921 in which decades of system discrimination against Catholics and nationalist minorities. Violence erupted in the late 1960s, after the Catholic community campaigned for equal rights. Unionists and Protestant communities viewed this campaign as a threat, prompting widespread violence.
  • On average, it rains 157 days and snow lasts for less than 10 days per year in Belfast.
  • There are 3,000 acres of forested parks in Belfast.
  • Northern Ireland has the biggest freshwater lake in Europe, the Lough Neagh.
  • More than 84% of the country’s population speaks Ballix, and the remaining 16% speak Tyrone. However, English is the most popular language in Northern Ireland, and Chinese is the most widely spoken minority language in the country.
  • The ‘Ulster Fry’ is Northern Ireland’s best-known delicacy. It traditionally includes foods like potato or soda bread, mushrooms, sausage, eggs, baked beans, and even pudding. Other traditional delicacies include soda farls, Dale Farm ice creams, tayto crisps and champ.
  • Popular sports include Gaelic football, Ulster rugby, hurling, and handball. The Northern Ireland football team qualified for for three world cups, and George Best is noted as the most famous football player from the country.
  • The HMS Titanic was manufactured in Northern Ireland’s capital city of Belfast and the Titanic Belfast museum is located on the site where the original Titanic was made.
  • “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin premiered at Ulster Hall located in Northern Ireland.
  • Aside from the Titance, popular sites in Northern Ireland include: The Giant’s Ring – a 5,000-year-old henge located south of Belfast that was used for racing horses throughout the 18th century – and Samson and Goliath – the biggest free-standing cranes in the world, are located in Belfast and are viewable from anywhere in the city. The country is also famous for The Giant’s Causeway. The Causeway, the mark of a prehistoric volcanic eruption, consists of 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns that interlock together.
  • Internationally renowned poets, such as Ian McDonald, Bob Shaw, John Brown, and C.S. Lewis are from Northern Ireland. Additonally, famous actors like Liam Neeson, Kenneth Branaugh, and James Nesbitt are from Northern Ireland.
  • Famed inventions from Northern Ireland include milk of magnesia – developed by James Murray in Belfast – and the pneumatic tire – invented in 1887 by John Wood Dunlop. The country is more notably known for the Guinness and Heineken breweries.