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Ireland is the third largest island in Europe, and the twentieth-largest island in the world. It lies to the north-west of continental Europe and is surrounded by hundreds of islands and islets. To the east of Ireland, separated by the Irish Sea, is the island of Great Britain. Politically, the state Ireland (described as the Republic of Ireland in cases of ambiguity) covers five-sixths of the island, with Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, covering the remainder in the north-east.
Geologically the island consists of a number of provinces - in the far west around Galway and Donegal is a medium to high grade metamorphic and igneous complex of Caledonide (Scottish Highland) affinity. Across southeast Ulster and extending southwest to Longford and south to Navan is a province of Ordovician and Silurian rocks with more affinities with the Southern Uplands province of Scotland. Further south, there is an area along the Wexford coast of granite intrusives into more Ordovician and Silurian rocks with a more Welsh affinity.
In the southwest, around Bantry Bay and the mountains of Macgillicuddy's Reeks, is an area of substantially deformed but only lightly metamorphosed Devonian-aged rocks.
Local government in the Republic of Ireland