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Flag of Ireland
Map of Ireland
Introduction Ireland
Background:
Celtic tribes arrived on the island between 600-150 B.C. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian BORU defeated the Danes in 1014. English invasions began in the 12th century and set off more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish struggle marked by fierce rebellions and harsh repressions. A failed 1916 Easter Monday Rebellion touched off several years of guerrilla warfare that in 1921 resulted in independence from the UK for 26 southern counties; six northern (Ulster) counties remained part of the UK. In 1948 Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth; it joined the European Community in 1973. Irish governments have sought the peaceful unification of Ireland and have cooperated with Britain against terrorist groups. A peace settlement for Northern Ireland, known as the Good Friday Agreement and approved in 1998, is being implemented with some difficulties.
Geography Ireland
Location:
Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain
Geographic coordinates:
53 00 N, 8 00 W
Map references:
Europe
Area:
total: 70,280 sq km
land: 68,890 sq km
water: 1,390 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than West Virginia
Land boundaries:
total: 360 km
border countries: UK 360 km
Coastline:
1,448 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate:
temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time
Terrain:
mostly level to rolling interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains; sea cliffs on west coast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Carrauntoohil 1,041 m
Natural resources:
natural gas, peat, copper, lead, zinc, silver, barite, gypsum, limestone, dolomite
Land use:
arable land: 16.82%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 83.15% (2005)
Irrigated land:
NA
Natural hazards:
NA
Environment - current issues:
water pollution, especially of lakes, from agricultural runoff
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
strategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe; over 40% of the population resides within 100 km of Dublin
People Ireland
Population:
4,062,235 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.9% (male 437,903/female 409,774)
15-64 years: 67.6% (male 1,373,771/female 1,370,452)
65 years and over: 11.6% (male 207,859/female 262,476) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 34 years
male: 33.2 years
female: 34.8 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.15% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
14.45 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
7.82 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
4.87 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 5.31 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.82 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.73 years
male: 75.11 years
female: 80.52 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.86 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
2,800 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 100 (2003 est.)
Nationality:
noun: Irishman(men), Irishwoman(women), Irish (collective plural)
adjective: Irish
Ethnic groups:
Celtic, English
Religions:
Roman Catholic 88.4%, Church of Ireland 3%, other Christian 1.6%, other 1.5%, unspecified 2%, none 3.5% (2002 census)
Languages:
English (official) is the language generally used, Irish (official) (Gaelic or Gaeilge) spoken mainly in areas located along the western seaboard
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
Government Ireland
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Ireland
local long form: none
local short form: Eire
Government type:
republic, parliamentary democracy
Capital:
name: Dublin
geographic coordinates: 53 20 N, 6 15 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions:
26 counties; Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow
note: Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan are part of Ulster Province
Independence:
6 December 1921 (from UK by treaty)
National holiday:
Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March
Constitution:
adopted 1 July 1937 by plebiscite; effective 29 December 1937
Legal system:
based on English common law, substantially modified by indigenous concepts; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Mary MCALEESE (since 11 November 1997)
head of government: Prime Minister Bertie AHERN (since 26 June 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with previous nomination by the prime minister and approval of the House of Representatives
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 31 October 1997 (next scheduled for October 2011); note - Mary MCALEESE appointed to a second term when no other candidate qualified for the 2004 presidential election; prime minister (taoiseach) nominated by the House of Representatives and appointed by the president
election results: Mary MCALEESE elected president; percent of vote - Mary MCALEESE 44.8%, Mary BANOTTI 29.6%
note: government coalition - Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament or Oireachtas consists of the Senate or Seanad Eireann (60 seats - 49 elected by the universities and from candidates put forward by five vocational panels, 11 are nominated by the prime minister; members serve five-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Dail Eireann (166 seats; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 16 and 17 July 2002 (next to be held by July 2007); House of Representatives - last held 17 May 2002 (next to be held by May 2007)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Fianna Fail 30, Fine Gael 15, Labor Party 5, Progressive Democrats 4, independents and other 6; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Fianna Fail 41.5%, Fine Gael 22.5%, Labor Party 10.8%, Sinn Fein 6.5%, Progressive Democrats 4.0%, Green Party 3.8%, other 10.9%; seats by party - Fianna Fail 81, Fine Gael 31, Labor Party 21, Sinn Fein 5, Progressive Democrats 8, Green Party 6, other 14
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister and cabinet)
Political parties and leaders:
Fianna Fail [Bertie AHERN]; Fine Gael [Enda KENNY]; Green Party [Trevor SARGENT]; Labor Party [Pat RABITTE]; Progressive Democrats [Mary HARNEY]; Sinn Fein [Gerry ADAMS]; Socialist Party [Joe HIGGINS]; The Workers' Party [Sean GARLAND]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
NA
International organization participation:
Australia Group, BIS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, MIGA, MINURSO, MONUC, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNMOVIC, UNOCI, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WEU (observer), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Noel FAHEY
chancery: 2234 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 462-3939
FAX: [1] (202) 232-5993
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador James C. KENNY
embassy: 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [353] (1) 668-8777
FAX: [353] (1) 668-9946
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and orange; similar to the flag of Cote d'Ivoire, which is shorter and has the colors reversed - orange (hoist side), white, and green; also similar to the flag of Italy, which is shorter and has colors of green (hoist side), white, and red
Economy Ireland
Economy - overview:
Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy with growth averaging a robust 7% in 1995-2004. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. Industry accounts for 46% of GDP, about 80% of exports, and 29% of the labor force. Although exports remain the primary engine for Ireland's growth, the economy has also benefited from a rise in consumer spending, construction, and business investment. Per capita GDP is 10% above that of the four big European economies and the second highest in the EU behind Luxembourg. Over the past decade, the Irish Government has implemented a series of national economic programs designed to curb price and wage inflation, reduce government spending, increase labor force skills, and promote foreign investment. Ireland joined in circulating the euro on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU nations.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$164.6 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$188.4 billion (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.7% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$41,000 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 5%
industry: 46%
services: 49% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
2.03 million (2005 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 8%
industry: 29%
services: 64% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate:
4.3% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line:
10% (1997 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 27.3% (1997)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
35.9 (1996)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.4% (2005 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
27% of GDP (2005 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $70.46 billion
expenditures: $69.4 billion; including capital expenditures of $5.5 billion (2005 est.)
Public debt:
26.7% of GDP (2005 est.)
Agriculture - products:
turnips, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat; beef, dairy products
Industries:
steel, lead, zinc, silver, aluminum, barite, and gypsum mining processing; food products, brewing, textiles, clothing; chemicals, pharmaceuticals; machinery, rail transportation equipment, passenger and commercial vehicles, ship construction and refurbishment; glass and crystal; software, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
3% (2005 est.)
Electricity - production:
23.41 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 95.9%
hydro: 2.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.7% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
22.97 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:
1.2 billion kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:
175,600 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:
27,450 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
178,600 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
673 million cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
4.298 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
3.384 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
19.82 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance:
-$3.833 billion (2005 est.)
Exports:
$102 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; live animals, animal products
Exports - partners:
US 18.7%, UK 17.3%, Belgium 15.1%, Germany 7.3%, France 6.4%, Netherlands 4.8% (2005)
Imports:
$65.47 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Imports - commodities:
data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing
Imports - partners:
UK 36.8%, US 13.8%, Germany 9.1%, Netherlands 4.5% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$869.3 million (2005 est.)
Debt - external:
$1.049 trillion (30 June 2005)
Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $607 million (2004)
Currency (code):
euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Currency code:
EUR
Exchange rates:
euros per US dollar - 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004), 0.886 (2003), 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Ireland
Telephones - main lines in use:
2,019,100 (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
3.78 million (2004)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern digital system using cable and microwave radio relay
domestic: microwave radio relay
international: country code - 353; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 9, FM 106, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios:
2.55 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
4 (many low-power repeaters) (2001)
Televisions:
1.82 million (2001)
Internet country code:
.ie
Internet hosts:
238,706 (2005)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
22 (2000)
Internet users:
2.06 million (2005)
Transportation Ireland
Airports:
36 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 15
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 6 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 21
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 17 (2006)
Pipelines:
gas 1,795 km (2004)
Railways:
total: 3,312 km
broad gauge: 1,947 km 1.600-m gauge (46 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 1,365 km 0.914-m gauge (operated by the Irish Peat Board to transport peat to power stations and briquetting plants) (2005)
Roadways:
total: 95,736 km
paved: 95,736 km (including 125 km of expressways) (2002)
Waterways:
753 km (pleasure craft only) (2005)
Merchant marine:
total: 33
by type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 22, chemical tanker 2, container 1, passenger/cargo 3, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 10 (Germany 3, Italy 2, Norway 1, Spain 1, Switzerland 1, UK 1, US 1)
registered in other countries: 21 (The Bahamas 2, Bermuda 1, Gibraltar 1, Netherlands 13, Panama 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, UK 1) (2005)
Ports and terminals:
Cork, Dublin, New Ross, Shannon Foynes, Waterford
Military Ireland
Military branches:
Irish Defense Forces (Oglaigh na h-Eireann): Army (includes Naval Service and Air Corps) (2006)
Military service age and obligation:
17 years of age for voluntary military service; enlistees under the age of 17 can be recruited for specialist positions (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 17-49: 977,092
females age 17-49: 978,465 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 17-49: 814,768
females age 17-49: 813,981 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 29,327
females age 17-49: 28,139 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$700 million (FY00/01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.9% (FY00/01)
Transnational Issues Ireland
Disputes - international:
Ireland, Iceland, and the UK dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm
Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for and consumer of hashish from North Africa to the UK and Netherlands and of European-produced synthetic drugs; minor transshipment point for heroin and cocaine destined for Western Europe; despite recent legislation, narcotics-related money laundering - using bureaux de change, trusts, and shell companies involving the offshore financial community - remains a concern

This page was last updated on 19 September, 2006