Ireland had effectively been a British colony since the Tudor dynasty in the 16th century. However, parts of Ireland had been under Norman control as early as the 12th century. The country was united with the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1801 when the United Kingdom was formed.
Ireland was partitioned in 1922, with the south becoming independent and the north remaining in the United Kingdom.
After partition in 1922, the six Irish counties of Antrim, Down, Armagh, Derry (or Londonderry), Tyrone and Fermanagh remained in the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland. This is now the smallest country in the UK, with a population of just under 2 million and a land area of about 13,500 km2. It has a devolved assembly known as Stormont, in the Capital, Belfast. There is no official flag of Northern Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland
After the 1922 partition, the 26 counties that were not part of Northern Ireland became the Irish Free State, and from 1937, the Republic of Ireland or Eire.
The counties of the Republic are: Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow.
Eire is a democratic parliamentary republic with an elected president as head of state. The National Parliament (or Oireachtas) is in the Capital city of Dublin. The population of the Republic is just over 5 million and the land area is about 70,000 km2.