For other uses, see Ireland (disambiguation).) is an island in the North Atlantic.
It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. It is the second largest island in the British Isles, after Great Britain.
By 16,000 BC, rising sea levels due to ice melting caused Ireland to become separated from Great Britain.
These Mesolithic communities lived as hunter-gatherers across the island until about 4000 BC.
Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music, and the Irish language.
The culture of the island also shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language, and sports such as association football, rugby, horse racing, and golf.
A war of independence in the early 20th century was followed by the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades, and Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom.
Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, in the northeast of the island.
In 2011, the population of Ireland was about 6.6 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe after Great Britain.
Northern Ireland saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s.
This subsided following a political agreement in 1998.