Ireland is the third largest island in Europe and the twentieth largest in the world. It lies to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is surrounded by hundreds of islands and islets. To the east of Ireland, separated by the Irish Sea, is the island of Great Britain. Politically, the Republic of Ireland (also known simply as Ireland) covers five sixths of the island, with Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, covering the remainder in the northeast. The name 'Ireland' derives from Old Irish Ériu (in modern Irish, Éire) with the addition of the Germanic word 'land'. This word, from Proto-Celtic *Īwerjū, which also gave Middle Welsh Iwerd "Irish Sea", originally meant "fatness", in the sense of fertile.
The population of the island is slightly under six million (2006), with 4,239,848 in the Republic of Ireland (1.7 million in Greater Dublin) and about 1.7 million in Northern Ireland (0.6 million in Greater Belfast).
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