The UK-Ireland are two islands in North Atlantic of Europe, separated by the North Channel, Irish Sea, and St. George’s Channel. Sometime referred to as the British Isles, there are over 6,000 islands in the North Atlantic associated with Britain and Ireland and have a population of over 70 million people. Currently, over 80% of the region’s population is living in the UK.
Prehistoric waves of settlement in what is now the United Kingdom and Ireland (The UK-Ireland) began about 30,000 years ago. Culturally distinct zones of Gaelic Ireland and Brythonic Britain evolved.
Following a Roman conquest, there was a Germanic Anglo-Saxon settlement, which reduced the Brythonic area to Wales and the Anglo-Saxons soon unified as England. As early as 4500 BC, Neolithic settlers arrived in Ireland and created extensive field systems and were well connected in European trade throughout the Bronze Age.
Celtic language and culture matured in its development in the Iron Age, brought by waves of invading, migrating Celts. The Kingdom of Scotland was created by Gaelic-speakers, migrants from Ireland. Both Ireland and Britain developed kingdom networks, until around the 7th century when a High kings ruled the greater regions.
The UK-Ireland ( Britain) have been politically connected for hundreds of years, and were under the same kingdom from 1801-1922. The majority of Ireland seceded in 1922, forming the Irish Free State and, separately, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. The massive depopulation of Ireland, following a devastating famine if the mid-1800s and political conflicts in the 19th century changed the face of the country.
There are now more Irish people living outside of Ireland than within the Republic of Ireland.
Between Britain’s colonization and Irish emigration, the heritage and living cultures of Britain and Ireland can be seen throughout the world.
There is a lasting legacy of Irish culture as shown by the immense number of United States citizens with Irish heritage.
Additionally, the British Empire and subsequent expansion has left an undeniable stamp on human history. Both the UK-Ireland retain strong ties with Europe and the United States. Additionally, both have experienced significant waves of emigration, with around 300 million people of British and Irish descent settled around the world.
While both Britain and Ireland have scenic countryside views, Ireland is rightly named the Emerald Isle for its lush pastures. Ireland has regular precipitation throughout the year. The Isles have a temperate marine climate with mild winter temperatures, warm summers, and conditions leading to east-west variation.
The coasts see aquatic wildlife of turtles, seals, whales and dolphins. Land animals typical of Ireland and Britain include deer, fox, hedgehogs, and badgers. There are hundreds of species of birds and a high level of diversity in flora in the region.
Christianity is the most common religion in Britain and Ireland. Roman Catholicism represents almost three fourths of the island, with most of the rest following Protestant denominations. Almost a third of those surveyed in the Republic of Ireland reported attending religious service more than once a week.
They have a strong tradition of Catholicism, dating back to the arrival of St. Patrick in Ireland. Christianity has also been a part of religious life in Britain, which has the Church of England and Christian influence dating back over a thousand years. Currently, around 40% of people in the UK identify as Christian and the Muslim population is about 5%. British society is seen as increasingly multi-faith or secular.
The Royal family remains an important cultural symbol of Great Britain in modern day and a large media presence. Queen Elizabeth II is a constitutional monarch and plays a primary ceremonial role as the head of state of the UK, along with 16 independent countries.
Britain recently choosing to exit from the European Union remains a global economic powerhouse and attracts increasing levels of immigration and tourism.
Given the turbulent recent history – famine, Civil War, and hundreds of years of unrest – in Ireland, it is now becoming economically successful as a high-tech presence in the EU. It has evolved into a modern nation with an overwhelming influence given its size.
These two islands of Northern Europe are fascinating in their history, with unmatched green country sides, and strong traditions cultural identities, deeply tied to their heritage and land.