As a result, winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area.

The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable climate which avoids extremes in temperature.

Thick woodlands covered the island until the Middle Ages.

As of 2013, the amount of land that is wooded in Ireland is about 11% of the total, compared with a European average of 35%.

Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

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 6.4 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe after Great Britain.

Just under 4.6 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.

For the sovereign state of the same name, see Republic of Ireland.

For the part of the United Kingdom, see Northern Ireland.