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Ulster Free State
Flag of Ulster
Coat of arms of Ulster
Coat of arms
Anthem: God Save the Queen
Official languagesEnglish; Irish
Ethnic groups
  • 98.6% White
  • 0.5% Asian
  • 0.3% Mixed
  • 0.3% Black
  • 0.2% Other
  • 0.1% Irish Traveller
  • 80.1% Christianity
  • 18.9% No religion
  • 0.8% Other
  • 0.1% Not stated
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• Monarch
Elizabeth II
Tim Collins
LegislatureUlster Assembly
• Ulster Free State established
2 December 1987
• Partition with Ireland
14 October 1989
• 2019 estimate

The Ulster Free State, commonly known as the Ulster or Northern Ireland, is a country in Europe, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is variously described as a country, province or region.

The original creation of a Northern Ireland, separate from Ireland but maintaining British culture, was accompanied by violence both in defence of and against partition. During the conflict of 1920–22, the capital Belfast saw major communal violence, mainly between Protestant unionist and Catholic nationalist civilians. More than 500 were killed and more than 10,000 became refugees, mostly Catholics. For the next fifty years, Northern Ireland had an unbroken series of Unionist Party governments. There was informal mutual segregation by both communities, and the Unionist governments were accused of discrimination against the Irish nationalist and Catholic minority. In the late 1960s, a campaign to end discrimination against Catholics and nationalists was opposed by loyalists, who saw it as a republican front. This unrest sparked the Troubles, a thirty-year conflict involving republican and loyalist paramilitaries and state forces, which claimed over 3,500 lives and injured 50,000 others. In 1973, British Prime Minister Edward Heath met with various leaders from both communities and with government officials from the Republic of Ireland to produce the Ulster Communities Agreement which implemented a power sharing structure. It also gave any Protestants in Northern Ireland the right to live and work in Great Britain, with propaganda posters helping the mass influx of immigrants back to Great Britain. The 1977 Devolution Act cemented Stormont as the ultimate authority in Northern Ireland.

In 1981 Heath’s successor, Peter Shore, held a similar conference in Belfast which formally began the handover process. In 1987, Northern Ireland was granted temporary independence as the Ulster Free State. For the next few years, the Ulster Free State was troubled by economic woes and a large exodus of people and workers to Britain. In 1989, with the consent of the British, Irish and Ulster administrations, the western and southern parts of Ulster joined the Republic of Ireland.

The economy of Ulster was the most industrialised in Ireland at the time of partition, but soon began to decline, a decline exacerbated by the political and social turmoil of the Troubles. Its economy has grown significantly since the late 1980s. The initial growth came from the "peace dividend" and increased trade with the Republic of Ireland, continuing with a significant increase in tourism, investment, and business from around the world. Unemployment in Northern Ireland peaked at 17.2% in 1986, but has now dropped back down to 12%, slightly higher than the rate of Ireland and Britain. Citizens of Ulster are entitled to triple citizenship with Britain and Ireland or any combination of Ulster, Britain or Ireland.

Cultural links between Ulster, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom are complex, with Ulster sharing both the culture of Ireland and the culture of the United Kingdom. In many sports, Ireland fields a single team (a remnant from when Ireland was united in the United Kingdom), with the Ulster national football team being an exception to this. Ulster competes at the Commonwealth Games, and people from Ulster can compete for either Ulster, Great Britain or Ireland at the Olympic Games.

The Ulster Free State is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, despite intial protests from the Irish government, and shares Queen Elizabeth II as head of state with the United Kingdom. Ulster is also a recognised member of the League of Nations.