Ireland [Ірландія] – the second largest island of the British Isles, lying to the west of the island of Great Britain. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, it is separated from Great Britain to the east by the Irish Sea. Area – 84,412 sq. km. Ireland is also the official name of the sovereign state which occupies most of the island, the remainder of which is occupied by Northern Ireland, a constituent part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
From the twelfth century Ireland was ruled de facto by the kings of England. The Crown of Ireland Act 1542 passed by the Parliament of Ireland declared that the King of England and his successors would also be Kings of Ireland. In 1801 the Kingdom of Ireland was united with the Kingdom of Great Britain (established in 1707 by the union of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland) to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
During the 1919-1921 Irish War of Independence, the UK Parliament partitioned Ireland into Northern Ireland, dominated by Protestants and supporters of continuing union with Great Britain, and Southern Ireland, dominated by Catholics and supporters of independence from the UK. The war ended with the Anglo-Irish Treaty which, in 1922, established the Irish Free State as a dominion within the British Empire (later the Commonwealth of Nations) independent of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland, however, immediately exercised its right to opt out of the Irish Free State and rejoined the United Kingdom which, in 1927, was renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
With the adoption of a new constitution in 1937 the Irish Free State was replaced by a new state named Ireland. In 1949 it became a republic and ceased to be a member of the Commonwealth. The term Republic of Ireland was introduced as “the description of the State”. The state continues to be officially called Ireland, though the name Republic of Ireland is often used to distinguish it from the island of Ireland and from Northern Ireland.