Northern Ireland is one of the four constituent entities of the United Kingdom. It is situated on the north-eastern tip of the island of Ireland in the province of Ulster, and consists of six counties. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom with an external land border (with the Republic of Ireland). It was created by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and has had its own form of devolved government in a similar manner to Scotland and Wales.
Northern Ireland covers 5,459 mi² (14,139 km²) in the northeast of the island of Ireland, about a sixth of the total area of the island, and has a population of 1,685,000 (April 2001) - between a quarter and a third of the island's total population.
Northern Ireland was for many years the site of a bitter ethnic/religious campaign of violence between representatives of the large minority Nationalists (who were predominantly Catholic and wanted it to be reunified with the Republic of Ireland) and representatives of the majority Unionists (who were predominantly Protestant and wanted it to remain part of the United Kingdom). The campaign was known popularly as The Troubles. The majority of both sides of the community had no actual association with the violent campaigns waged, and most did not support the violent representatives of their respective communities. Since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998 the major paramilitary campaigns have either been on ceasefire or have declared their war to be over.