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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%.
During the Iron Age, a Celtic language and culture emerged in Ireland.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.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.An extensive field system, arguably the oldest in the world, consisted of small divisions separated by dry-stone walls.
The fields were farmed for several centuries between 3500 BC and 3000 BC. The Bronze Age – defined by the use of metal – began around 2500 BC, with technology changing people's everyday lives during this period through innovations such as the wheel; harnessing oxen; weaving textiles; brewing alcohol; and skilful metalworking, which produced new weapons and tools, along with fine gold decoration and jewellery, such as brooches and torcs. Koch and others, Ireland in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-network culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age that also included Britain, western France and Iberia, and that this is where Celtic languages developed.
Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music, and the Irish language.
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.
With the Acts of Union in 1801, Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom.
A war of independence in the early 20th century was followed by the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades, and Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom.
For the sovereign state of the same name, see Republic of Ireland.