Ireland

Driving Directions Ireland

IRELAND is located on an island in the eastern part of the North Atlantic Ocean. Situated on the European continental shelf, it lies at the westernmost edge of Europe, to the west of Great Britain. The northeastern corner of the island is occupied by Northern Ireland, which belongs to Britain and is separated from the independent republic to its south by a winding border. Covering 70,280 square kilometers (27,135 square miles), Ireland is slightly larger than the state of West Virginia.

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Ireland’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean gives it a mild maritime climate. Average temperatures range from 4°C to 7°C (39°F to 45°F) in January, and from 14°C to 16°C (57°F to 61°F) in July. Ireland’s weather is humid and highly changeable. A common saying about Irish weather is “If you don’t like it, wait a couple of minutes!” Average annual rainfall ranges from roughly 76 centimeters (30 inches) in the eastern part of the country to over 250 centimeters (100 inches) in the western highlands.

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Ireland’s low, central limestone plateau rimmed by coastal highlands has been compared to a gigantic saucer. Despite these coastal highlands, Ireland is generally a low country. Only about 20 percent of its terrain is higher than 150 meters (500 feet) above sea level, and even its mountains rarely exceed altitudes of 900 meters (3,000 feet).

The average elevation of the central lowlands is about 60 meters (200 feet), although various hills, ridges, and loughs break up this terrain in many places. The Irish peat bogs, although rapidly diminishing in number, are still the country’s most distinctive physical feature. Ireland also has both coastal and interior wetlands.

Ireland is bounded on the east and southeast by the Irish Sea and St. George’s Channel, and on the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean. The North Channel separates Northern Ireland from Scotland.

Did you know about Ireland?

Lough Hyne, which lies below sea level, is one of Europe’s only saltwater lakes (or inland seas).

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