It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel.
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. This in turn derives from Proto-Celtic *Iveriu (compare Welsh Iwerddon), which is also the source of Latin Hibernia.
The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable climate which is free of extremes in temperature.
Thick woodlands covered the island until the Middle Ages.
Just under 4.6 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.
The island's geography comprises relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, with several navigable rivers extending inland.
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.
Iveriu derives from a root meaning "fat, prosperous." During the last glacial period, and up until about 12,000 years ago, most of Ireland was periodically covered in ice.
Sea levels were lower and Ireland, like Great Britain, formed part of continental Europe.
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%.
As a result, winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area.
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