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Introduction Ireland
Celtic tribes settled on the island in the 4th century 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 United Kingdom. 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 currently being implemented.
Geography Ireland
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:
total: 70,280 sq km
water: 1,390 sq km
land: 68,890 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than West Virginia
Land boundaries:
total: 360 km
border countries: UK 360 km
1,448 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time
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:
zinc, lead, natural gas, barite, copper, gypsum, limestone, dolomite, peat, silver
Land use:
arable land: 19.49%
permanent crops: 0.04%
other: 80.47% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
Environment - current issues:
water pollution, especially of lakes, from agricultural runoff
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Endangered Species, 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 97 km of Dublin
People Ireland
3,924,140 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 21.2% (male 427,017; female 404,191)
15-64 years: 67.4% (male 1,322,982; female 1,322,429)
65 years and over: 11.4% (male 194,724; female 252,797) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 33.1 years
male: 32.2 years
female: 34 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
1.03% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
14.63 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
7.94 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
3.57 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 5.34 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 5.95 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.35 years
male: 74.58 years
female: 80.31 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.89 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
2,400 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 100 (2001 est.)
noun: Irishman(men), Irishwoman(women), Irish (collective plural)
adjective: Irish
Ethnic groups:
Celtic, English
Roman Catholic 91.6%, Church of Ireland 2.5%, other 5.9% (1998)
English is the language generally used, Irish (Gaelic) spoken mainly in areas located along the western seaboard
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98% (1981 est.)
male: NA
female: NA
Government Ireland
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Ireland
Government type:
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
6 December 1921 (from UK by treaty)
National holiday:
Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March
29 December 1937; adopted 1 July 1937 by plebiscite
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
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
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
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 31 October 1997 (next to be held NA November 2004); prime minister nominated by the House of Representatives and appointed by the president
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)
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 others 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%, others 10.9%; seats by party - Fianna Fail 81, Fine Gael 31, Labor Party 21, Progressive Democrats 8, Green Party 6, Sinn Fein 5, others 14
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)
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:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Noel FAHEY; note - FAHEY has announced that he will leave
chancery: 2234 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 232-5993
telephone: [1] (202) 462-3939
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Richard J. EGAN
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 8% in 1995-2002. The global slowdown, especially in the information technology sector, pressed growth down to 2.7% in 2003. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. Industry accounts for 46% of GDP and about 80% of exports and employs 28% 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. Over the past decade, the Irish Government has implemented a series of national economic programs designed to curb inflation, reduce government spending, increase labor force skills, and promote foreign investment. Ireland joined in launching the euro currency system in January 1999 along with 10 other EU nations.
purchasing power parity - $113.7 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6.9% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $29,300 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 5%
industry: 46%
services: 49% (2002 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 (1987)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
4.6% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
1.8 million (2001)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 8%, industry 29%, services 64% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate:
4.3% (2002 est.)
revenues: $30.7 billion
expenditures: $30.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $5.5 billion (2002)
food products, brewing, textiles, clothing; chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, transportation equipment, glass and crystal; software
Industrial production growth rate:
6% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
23.53 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 95.9%
hydro: 2.3%
other: 1.7% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
21.63 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
285 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
38 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
174,400 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
27,450 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
178,600 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (37257)
Natural gas - production:
815 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
4.199 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
3.384 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
9.911 billion cu m (37257)
Agriculture - products:
turnips, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat; beef, dairy products
$86.6 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; live animals, animal products (1999)
Exports - partners:
UK 23.3%, US 16.7%, Belgium 14.6%, Germany 7.3%, France 5% (2002)
$48.6 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals; petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing
Imports - partners:
UK 41.1%, US 15.3%, Germany 6.8% (2002)
Debt - external:
$11 billion (1998)
Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $283 million (2001)
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:
Exchange rates:
euros per US dollar - 1.06 (2002), 1.12 (2001), 1.09 (2000), 0.94 (1999), 0.7 (1998)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Ireland
Telephones - main lines in use:
1.6 million (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
3 million (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern digital system using cable and microwave radio relay
domestic: microwave radio relay
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 9, FM 106, shortwave 0 (1998)
2.55 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
4 (many low-power repeaters) (2001)
1.82 million (2001)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
22 (2000)
Internet users:
1.31 million (2002)
Transportation Ireland
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) (2002)
total: 92,500 km
paved: 87,043 km (including 115 km of expressways)
unpaved: 5,457 km (2000 est.)
700 km (limited facilities for commercial traffic) (1998)
gas 1,795 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Arklow, Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, Foynes, Galway, Limerick, New Ross, Waterford
Merchant marine:
total: 26 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 110,913 GRT/128,017 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Germany 2 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 4, cargo 20, container 1, short-sea passenger 1
36 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 16
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 6 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 20
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 17 (2002)
Military Ireland
Military branches:
Army (including Naval Service and Air Corps), National Police (Garda Siochana)
Military manpower - military age:
17 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,020,182 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 821,378 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 31,437 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$700 million (FY00/01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.9% (FY00/01)
Transnational Issues Ireland
Disputes - international:
disputes with Iceland, Denmark, and the UK over the Faroe Islands continental shelf boundary outside 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