When t left Ireland in the August of 1969, neither I nor my irtsh friends had any idea that it would be 21 years before we would meet again. But on 27th in Dublin to take part in the 41 st International Summer School of University College Dublin, which attracted participants from 28 countries. Its theme last year was Ireland: Tradition, crisis and transition. Though we often read about problems in Northern Ireland very little is known about the Republic of Ireland. Here is some data: Geographical situation: Ireland is an island separated from Britain by the Irish sea which varies between 95-200 km across. Total area: 84,421 sq km (the Irish Republic 70,282 sq km.). Population: With approximately 3.5 mil. people, the Republic of Ireland is one of the least densely populated countries in Europe. Language: According to the Constitution, Irsh is the first official language, but today it is spoken only in the west of the country. Irish is a Celtic language related to Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton. Irish is taught at schools and it is even one of the official languages of the European Community.English, however, is the most commonly used language. Political system: Parliamentary democracy. The president is the head of the state; he is elected to a 7 year term by direct vote of the people. National flag: A tricolour of green, white and orange vertical stripes. Administrative: There are 4 historical provinces - Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht divided into 32 counties (6 counties of Ulster are administered by the -U. K.). Currency: The Irish pound is divided; into 100 pence. The Capital: Dublin (925,000), other large cities: Cork (173,000), Dun Laoghaire, Limerick. History: Ireland's story is a long one, we can trace it back to 5000 B.C. The Iron Age is connected with the Celts; who were Christianized in the 5th century. The early Christian Ireland is presented to visitors by the scripture crosses and round towers which are one of the most striking features of the Irish landscape; there are about 80 of them on the sites of the early monasteries. They were built as belfries but they also served as places of refuge during invasions. Norse riders appeared on the east coast in 1170. The history over the following seven hundred years is the story of the gradual spread of this Norman, (and later English), conquest over the whole island, during which the old Gaelic order largely disappeared.
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