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Ireland / Éire

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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 1949, 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 is gradually being implemented despite some difficulties. In 2006, the Irish and British governments developed and began to implement the St. Andrews Agreement, building on the Good Friday Agreement approved in 1998.



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: 70,273 sq km
country comparison to the world: 119
land: 68,883 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:
Current Weather
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

Total renewable water resources:
46.8 cu km (2003)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 1.18 cu km/yr (23%/77%/0%)
per capita: 284 cu m/yr (1994)

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



Population:
4,250,163 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125

Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.9% (male 460,671/female 429,505)
15-64 years: 66.9% (male 1,421,573/female 1,420,334)
65 years and over: 12.2% (male 232,146/female 285,934) (2010 est.)

Median age:
total: 35.3 years
male: 34.5 years
female: 36.1 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:
1.102% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116

Birth rate:
14.1 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149

Death rate:
7.73 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115

Net migration rate:
4.66 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 16

Urbanization:
urban population: 61% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.066 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 4.97 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 189
male: 5.44 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.41 years
country comparison to the world: 47
male: 75.76 years
female: 81.24 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.85 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
5,500 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 100 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142

Nationality:
noun: Irishman(men), Irishwoman(women), Irish (collective plural)
adjective: Irish

Ethnic groups:
Irish 87.4%, other white 7.5%, Asian 1.3%, black 1.1%, mixed 1.1%, unspecified 1.6% (2006 census)

Religions:
Roman Catholic 87.4%, Church of Ireland 2.9%, other Christian 1.9%, other 2.1%, unspecified 1.5%, none 4.2% (2006 census)

Languages:
English (official) is the language generally used, Irish (Gaelic or Gaeilge) (official) spoken mainly in areas along the western coast

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 18 years
male: 17 years
female: 18 years (2006)

Education expenditures:
4.7% of GDP (2005)
country comparison to the world: 80



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 19 N, 6 14 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:
29 counties and 5 cities*; Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Cork*, Donegal, Dublin*, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Galway, Galway*, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Limerick*, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, North Tipperary, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, South Dublin, South Tipperary, Waterford, Waterford*, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow

Independence:
6 December 1921 (from the 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: Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian COWEN (since 7 May 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with previous nomination by the prime minister and approval of the House of Representatives
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 31 October 1997 (next scheduled for October 2011); note - Mary MCALEESE was 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%

Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament or Oireachtas consists of the Senate or Seanad Eireann (60 seats; 49 members 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 elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held in July 2007 (next to be held by July 2012); House of Representatives - last held on 24 May 2007 (next to be held by May 2012)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Fianna Fail 28, Fine Gael 14, Labor Party 6, Progressive Democrats 2, Green Party 2, Sein Fein 1, independents 7; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Fianna Fail 41.6%, Fine Gael 27.3%, Labor Party 10.1%, Sinn Fein 6.9%, Green Party 4.7%, Progressive Democrats 2.7%, other 6.7%; seats by party - Fianna Fail 78, Fine Gael 51, Labor Party 20, Sinn Fein 4, Green Party 6, Progressive Democrats 2, independents 4, Speaker of the Dail 1
note: on 8 November 2008, delegates voted to disband the Progressive Democrats, and in November 2009 it officially stopped operating as a political party

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister and cabinet)

Political parties and leaders:
Fianna Fail [Brian COWEN]; Fine Gael [Enda KENNY]; Green Party [John GORMLEY]; Labor Party [Eamon GILMORE]; Progressive Democrats or PD [Noel GREALISH] (formerly dissolved on 20 November 2009); Sinn Fein [Gerry ADAMS]; Socialist Party [Joe HIGGINS]; The Workers' Party [Michael FINNEGAN]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Families Acting for Innocent Relatives or FAIR [Brian MCCONNELL] (seek compensation for victims of violence); Families Against Intimidation and Terror or FAIT (oppose terrorism); Gaeltacht Civil Rights Campaign (Coiste Cearta Sibhialta na Gaeilge) or CCSG (encourages the use of the Irish language and campaigns for greater civil rights in Irish speaking areas); Iona Institute [David QUINN] (a conservative Catholic think tank); Irish Anti-War Movement [Richard Boyd BARRETT] (campaigns against wars around the world); Irish Republican Army or IRA (terrorist group); Keep Ireland Open (environmental group); Midland Railway Action Group or MRAG [Willie ALLEN] (transportation promoters); Peace and Neutrality Alliance [Roger COLE] (campaigns to protect Irish neutrality); Rail Users Ireland (formerly the Platform 11 - transportation promoters); 32 Country Sovereignty Movement or 32CSM (supports a fully sovereign Ireland); Ulster Defence Association or UDA (terrorist group)

International organization participation:
ADB (nonregional member), Australia Group, BIS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURCAT, MINURSO, MONUC, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael COLLINS
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 Daniel ROONEY
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; officially the flag colors have no meaning, but a common interpretation is that the green represents the Irish nationalist (Gaelic) tradition of Ireland; orange represents the Orange tradition (minority supporters of William of Orange); white symbolizes peace (or a lasting truce) between the green and the orange
note: 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 - overview:
Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. Ireland joined 11 other EU nations in circulating the euro on 1 January 2002. GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity dropped sharply in 2008-09 as GDP fell by 3% in 2008 and nearly 8% in 2009. Ireland entered into a recession for the first time in more than a decade with the onset of the world financial crisis and subsequent severe slowdown in the property and construction markets. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. Although the export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, remains a key component of Ireland's economy, construction most recently fueled economic growth along with strong consumer spending and business investment. Property prices rose more rapidly in Ireland in the decade up to 2007 than in any other developed economy. However, average home prices have fallen 50% from the 2007 peak. In 2008 the COWEN government moved to guarantee all bank deposits, recapitalize the banking system, and establish partly-public venture capital funds in response to the country's economic downturn. In 2009, in an effort to stabilize the banking sector, the Irish Government announced the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), which will acquire property and development loans with a book value of more than $100 billion from Irish banks. Faced with a need to bring the budget deficit down under the 3% EMU limit by 2014, the Irish Government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009. In addition to across-the-board cuts in spending, the 2009 budget included wage reductions for all public servants.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$176.9 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
$191.3 billion (2008 est.)
$197.2 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$229.4 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
-7.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203
-3% (2008 est.)
6% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$42,200 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 16
$46,000 (2008 est.)
$48,000 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 5%
industry: 46%
services: 49% (2002 est.)

Labor force:
2.187 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 27%
services: 67% (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate:
11.8% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
6.3% (2008 est.)

Population below poverty line:
4.2% (2008 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 27.2% (2000)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
30.7 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 108
35.9 (1987)

Investment (gross fixed):
15.6% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131

Budget:
revenues: $76 billion
expenditures: $108.6 billion (2009 est.)

Public debt:
57.7% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
37.4% of GDP (2008 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-4.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
4.1% (2008 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
3% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 99
5% (31 December 2007)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
6.76% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 131
6.52% (31 December 2007)

Stock of money:
$NA
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 16 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders

Stock of quasi money:
$NA

Stock of domestic credit:
$738.6 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 16
$545.2 billion (31 December 2007)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$NA (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 51
$49.4 billion (31 December 2008)
$144 billion (31 December 2007)

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; glass and crystal; software, tourism

Industrial production growth rate:
5% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 26

Electricity - production:
26.06 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64

Electricity - consumption:
25.12 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64

Electricity - exports:
303 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:
753 million kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 172

Oil - consumption:
164,600 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62

Oil - exports:
22,710 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89

Oil - imports:
190,800 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168

Natural gas - production:
392 million cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69

Natural gas - consumption:
5.112 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169

Natural gas - imports:
4.723 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33

Natural gas - proved reserves:
9.911 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79

Current account balance:
-$6.707 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 173
-$13.88 billion (2008 est.)

Exports:
$108.6 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
$119.8 billion (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; live animals, animal products

Exports - partners:
US 20.52%, Belgium 17.78%, UK 16.31%, Germany 5.66%, France 5.56%, Spain 4.19% (2009)

Imports:
$63.12 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
$84.82 billion (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities:
data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing

Imports - partners:
UK 35.28%, US 16.87%, Germany 6.76%, Netherlands 5.86%, France 4.76% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$2.135 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110
$1.023 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$2.287 trillion (30 September 2009)
country comparison to the world: 7
$2.356 trillion (31 December 2008)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$195.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21
$170 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$172.5 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21
$151.5 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.7338 (2009), 0.6827 (2008), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005)



Telephones - main lines in use:
2.202 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 55

Telephones - mobile cellular:
5.048 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 86

Telephone system:
general assessment: modern digital system using cable and microwave radio relay
domestic: system privatized but dominated by former state monopoly operator; increasing levels of broadband access
international: country code - 353; landing point for the Hibernia-Atlantic submarine cable with links to the US, Canada, and UK; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 9, FM 106, shortwave 0 (1998)

Television broadcast stations:
4 (many repeaters) (2008)

Internet country code:
.ie

Internet hosts:
1.303 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 36

Internet users:
2.83 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 61



Airports:
39 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 105

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 17
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 6 (2009)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 22
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 20 (2009)

Pipelines:
gas 1,550 km (2009)

Railways:
total: 3,237 km
country comparison to the world: 53
broad gauge: 1,872 km 1.600-m gauge (37 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) (2008)

Roadways:
total: 96,036 km
country comparison to the world: 49
paved: 96,036 km (includes 423 km of expressways) (2008)

Waterways:
956 km (pleasure craft only) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 68

Merchant marine:
total: 29
country comparison to the world: 88
by type: cargo 25, chemical tanker 2, container 1, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 2 (US 2)
registered in other countries: 21 (Bahamas 2, Bermuda 1, Bulgaria 1, Cyprus 3, Isle of Man 1, Marshall Islands 1, Netherlands 10, Slovakia 1, UK 1) (2008)

Ports and terminals:
Cork, Dublin, Shannon Foynes



Military branches:
Irish Defense Forces (Oglaigh na h-Eireann): Army, Naval Service, Air Corps (2010)

Military service age and obligation:
17-25 years of age for male or female voluntary military service (17-27 years of age for the Naval Service); enlistees 16 years of age can be recruited for apprentice specialist positions; maximum obligation 12 years; 17-35 years of age for the Reserve Defense Forces; EU citizenship or 5-year residence in Ireland required (2008)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,031,985
females age 16-49: 1,030,606 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 858,317
females age 16-49: 855,125 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 27,987
female: 26,240 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:
0.9% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139



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; increasing consumption of South American cocaine; 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

 

Information from the CIA's "The World Fact Book" 2010

 

 

 

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