Northern Ireland: Life and Culture

Northern Ireland Tourism

Living in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Culture

Geography and Economy

Geography... Northern Ireland is really tiny: from Belfast you can only drive about 60 miles north or south, about 150 miles to the west and maybe 30 to the east before you are either out of the country or into the sea. Because the distances are so short people would normally go out for a 'run' at the weekend, if only to do the shopping in one of the out of town shopping centres. Believe me you do NOT want to try shopping in the shopping centres in town on a Saturday as you can barely move due to the sheer number of people and parking the car is a nightmare. Since most folk are driving not that many of them work on the way to/from work (this number is NOT zero as you might have expected!) and consequently there aren't that many mobile phones around. Actually I'm not over the moon with a mobile myself as I don't fancy the idea of holding a miniature microwave transmitter to my head given that it only take a few seconds in a microwave oven to do serious damage to food (ie cook it).

Climate... As I said Belfast is small and it's also a good deal further north than London. I don't know if you'd know about oceanic and continental climates but Belfast has an oceanic one while London is partly continental. Basically if you've an oceanic climate you don't get very cold winters or very warm summers because the ocean beside you takes ages to heat up and cool down. Since land heats up and cools down pretty fast you get very hot summers and much colder winters (depending on latitude obviously). So when I'm going to London in the summer it's always a few degrees warmer and I leave the coat at home whereas in the winter I need to take a big coat. So what other differences do the size and climate make? Well, we just don't have the population to support a 'party culture' and the cafes and bars rarely have the tables out on the street.

Economy... Well we're part of the UK so everything is dictated by UK laws in terms of tax, interest rates, currency, etc. However, the Northern Ireland economy is dominated by the public sector so even when there is a recession in the UK as a whole we wouldn't notice that much if it weren't on the news. We've a Value Added Tax which goes on just about everything but it's included in the price so you don't need a calculator to work out what you've to pay in the shops (well I would if I ever looked at the prices as I'm just dreadful at counting!). Income tax starts at 20% but it's mainly 23% up to about 30,000 ($45,000) annual salary and 40% on everything above that. As well as that there's National Insurance which is another income tax in all but name and is about 7%. The currency is Sterling but you probably gathered that. We've two universities which is a lot considering that the entire population is only about 1.5 million but quite a lot of students come up from the Republic as they get free education here whereas they'd have to pay for it there (there's about 3 million people living down there I think).



Northern Ireland Themes was designed by Crystal Consultancy. Copyright 1998-2008 Arnold Stewart.