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Northern Ireland*Northern Ireland flag
Basic facts
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The country
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Capital:Belfast
Area:244,110 sq km; 94,251 sq miles
Population:The population of Northern Ireland (1996 estimate) was 1,663,000.
Urbanisation:Urban 89 per cent (1998 Estimate); Rural 11 per cent (1998 Estimate)
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Economy

Exports:Manufactured goods, machinery, fuels, chemicals, semi-finished goods, transport equipment, professional and scientific instruments, iron and steel products, foodstuff

Industry:Production machinery, including machine tools, electric power equipment, automation equipment, railway equipment, ships, aircraft and motor vehicles and parts; electronic and communications equipment, metals, chemicals, coal, petroleum, paper and paper products, food processing, textiles, clothing and other consumer goods

Agriculture:Principal crops: wheat, barley, potatoes, sugar beet, vegetables, fruits; livestock products: poultry, sheep, cattle, milk, meat, eggs, wool

Currency:1 pound sterling (), consisting of 100 pence

Natural resources:Coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, silica

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The people

Ethnic:White 94 per cent, Indian 2 per cent, Pakistani 1 per cent, Black and other 3 per cent

Language:English is the official language and it is spoken with a distinctive regional accent. The Irish (Gaelic) language is also spoken in some communities and has accompanied a cultural revival in some areas.

Religion:About 55 per cent of the population is Protestant and about 38 per cent is Catholic. The Protestant community includes Presbyterians, Methodists and members of the Church of Ireland.

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The history

Independence:

Government:Northern Ireland has 17 seats in the United Kingdom's House of Commons. The majority of Northern Ireland's members of Parliament belong to the two main Unionist parties. Before direct rule from London began in 1972, Northern Ireland had its own parliament at Stormont, which governed local affairs. Today Northern Ireland is divided into 26 districts. Each district has its own elected council, which has limited powers of local Government. The voting age is 18.

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