Northern Ireland is the point at which the two islands of Ireland and Great Britain meet. Physically, Ulster is a part of the island of Ireland. Until a century ago, however, approach by water was far easier than approach by land. Ulster’s propinquity by water to northern England and Scotland—only twelve miles distant at the narrowest point of the Irish sea—resulted in continual movement back and forth between Britain and the northeast of Ireland, much more than between Ulster and the less accessible counties of Ireland’s other provinces. In area, Northern Ireland covers 5,452 square miles. It is about the size of the southeast of England, slightly larger than the state of Connecticut or than Flanders or Wallonia, the two constituent parts of Belgium.
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