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The Republic of Ireland occupies 83 per cent of Ireland, an island situated to the west of Great Britain.
It extends from the farthest point north of the island, Malin Head, to the farthest point south, Cape Clear. In the north-east is Northern Ireland, a part of Great Britain, which occupies six of the nine counties of the historical province of Ulster. The three other historical provinces of the island are Leinster, Munster and Connaught, all in the Republic which is divided into 26 counties.
They include three counties of Ulster: Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan. The Irish Sea divides Ireland from Great Britain.
The Republic is situated on a limestone plain rimmed on the coast by low mountains except near Dublin. The west and south-west coasts are heavily indented with rugged and beautiful flooded valleys providing some of the best anchorages in Europe, e.g. Bantry Bay.
Climate and Vegetation
Eire has a cool-temperate western maritime climate-mild, wet, and very changeable-the product of maritime air from the Atlantic and the frequent passage of depressions.
January temperatures range from 6°C in the southwest to 5°C in the midlands and north; July temperatures, from 15°C in the southeast to 14°C in the northwest. Much of the lowland has an annual rainfall of 760 to 1,150 mm, but western mountain districts have more than 1,525 mm.
Skies are often overcast, with rain falling on two days out of three in the west and north. The east has lower and less frequent rainfall, more sunshine, and fewer gales.
Vegetation is similar to that of Great Britain, but not so varied.
This is because Ireland is small and has a less diverse environment, and because a rising sea level isolated the island before colonization by some plants could occur. The moist and equable climate gives the vegetation the characteristic luxuriance and greenness, especially in the mild southwest, that earned Ireland the nickname "the Emerald Isle".
Remnants of the oak woodland that once covered the country survive only at Killarney and a few other places. More than two-thirds of the country is improved farmland.
Peat has developed in depressions on the ill-drained lowland and also in the high-rainfall west, where it has spread like a blanket over the landscape. Exposure, along with livestock grazing and periodic burning, has hindered tree growth on the mountains and along the west coast, where the vegetation is heathlike.