Republic of Ireland
and largest city
|Ethnic groups |
|Government||Unitary parliamentary republic|
|Michael D. Higgins|
from the United Kingdom
|24 April 1916|
|21 January 1919|
|6 December 1921|
|6 December 1922|
|29 December 1937|
|18 April 1949|
|70,273 km2 (27,133 sq mi) (118th)|
• Water (%)
• 2022 estimate
• 2016 census
|71.3/km2 (184.7/sq mi) (113th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2022 estimate|
|$633 billion (40th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2021 estimate|
|$516 billion (30th)|
• Per capita
|Gini (2021)|| 26.9|
low · 23rd
|HDI (2021)|| 0.945|
very high · 8th
|Currency||Euro (€)[c] (EUR)|
|Time zone||UTC (GMT)|
• Summer (DST)
|ISO 3166 code||IE|
Ireland (Irish: Éire [ˈeːɾʲə] (listen)), also known as the Republic of Ireland (Poblacht na hÉireann),[a] is a country in north-western Europe consisting of 26 of the 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, on the eastern side of the island. Around 2.1 million of the country's population of 5.13 million people resides in the Greater Dublin Area. The sovereign state shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, St George's Channel to the south-east, and the Irish Sea to the east. It is a unitary, parliamentary republic. The legislature, the Oireachtas, consists of a lower house, Dáil Éireann; an upper house, Seanad Éireann; and an elected President (Uachtarán) who serves as the largely ceremonial head of state, but with some important powers and duties. The head of government is the Taoiseach (Prime Minister, literally 'Chief', a title not used in English), who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President; the Taoiseach in turn appoints other government ministers.
One of Europe's major financial hubs is centred on Dublin. Ireland ranks among the top ten wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, although this has been partially ascribed to distortions caused by the tax inversion practices of various multinationals operating in Ireland. From 2017, a modified gross national income (GNI*) was enacted by the Central Bank of Ireland, as the standard deviation was considered too materially distorted to accurately measure or represent the Irish economy. After joining the EC, the country's government enacted a series of liberal economic policies that resulted in economic growth between 1995 and 2007 now known as the Celtic Tiger period, before its subsequent reversal during the Great Recession.
The Irish name for Ireland is
The government of the United Kingdom used the name "Eire" (without the diacritic) and, from 1949, "Republic of Ireland", for the state. It was not until the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, when the state dropped its claim to Northern Ireland, that it began calling the state "Ireland".
As well as "Ireland", "Éire" or "the Republic of Ireland", the state is also informally called "the Republic", "Southern Ireland" or "the South";
From 1874, and particularly under
Home Rule seemed certain when the
Revolution and steps to independence
Though it received the
The remainder of the Irish Volunteers, who refused Redmond and opposed any support of the UK, launched an armed insurrection against British rule in the 1916 Easter Rising, together with the Irish Citizen Army. This commenced on 24 April 1916 with the declaration of independence. After a week of heavy fighting, primarily in Dublin, the surviving rebels were forced to surrender their positions. The majority were imprisoned but fifteen of the prisoners (including most of the leaders) were executed as traitors to the UK. This included Patrick Pearse, the spokesman for the rising and who provided the signal to the volunteers to start the rising, as well as James Connolly, socialist and founder of the Industrial Workers of the World union and both the Irish and Scottish Labour movements. These events, together with the Conscription Crisis of 1918, had a profound effect on changing public opinion in Ireland against the British Government.
In January 1919, after the December
In accordance with the treaty, on 6 December 1922 the entire island of Ireland became a self-governing
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War (June 1922 – May 1923) was the consequence of the ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the creation of the Irish Free State.
At the start of the war, the
Constitution of Ireland 1937
Following a national plebiscite in July 1937, the new
Ireland became a member of the United Nations in December 1955, after having been denied membership because of its neutral stance during the Second World War and not supporting the Allied cause. At the time, joining the UN involved a commitment to using force to deter aggression by one state against another if the UN thought it was necessary.
Interest towards membership of the
The economic crisis of the late 1970s was fuelled by the Fianna Fáil government's budget, the abolition of the car tax, excessive borrowing, and global economic instability including the 1979 oil crisis. There were significant policy changes from 1989 onwards, with economic reform, tax cuts, welfare reform, an increase in competition, and a ban on borrowing to fund current spending. This policy began in 1989–1992 by the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat government, and continued by the subsequent Fianna Fáil/Labour government and Fine Gael/Labour/Democratic Left government. Ireland became one of the world's fastest growing economies by the late 1990s in what was known as the Celtic Tiger period, which lasted until the Great Recession. However, since 2014, Ireland has experienced increased economic activity.
In the Northern Ireland question, the British and Irish governments started to seek a peaceful resolution to the violent conflict involving many paramilitaries and the British Army in Northern Ireland known as "The Troubles". A peace settlement for Northern Ireland, known as the Good Friday Agreement, was approved in 1998 in referendums north and south of the border. As part of the peace settlement, the territorial claim to Northern Ireland in Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland was removed by referendum. In its white paper on Brexit the United Kingdom government reiterated its commitment to the Good Friday Agreement. With regard to Northern Ireland's status, it said that the UK Government's "clearly-stated preference is to retain Northern Ireland’s current constitutional position: as part of the UK, but with strong links to Ireland".
The state extends over an area of about five-sixths (70,273 km2 or 27,133 sq mi) of the island of Ireland (84,421 km2 or 32,595 sq mi), with Northern Ireland constituting the remainder. The island is bounded to the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the northeast by the North Channel. To the east, the Irish Sea connects to the Atlantic Ocean via St George's Channel and the Celtic Sea to the southwest.
The western landscape mostly consists of rugged cliffs, hills and mountains. The central lowlands are extensively covered with glacial deposits of clay and sand, as well as significant areas of
Ireland is one of the least forested countries in Europe.
The Atlantic Ocean and the warming influence of the Gulf Stream affect weather patterns in Ireland. Temperatures differ regionally, with central and eastern areas tending to be more extreme. However, due to a temperate oceanic climate, temperatures are seldom lower than −5 °C (23 °F) in winter or higher than 26 °C (79 °F) in summer. The highest temperature recorded in Ireland was 33.3 °C (91.9 °F) on 26 June 1887 at
Ireland normally gets between 1100 and 1600 hours of sunshine each year, most areas averaging between 3.25 and 3.75 hours a day. The sunniest months are May and June, which average between 5 and 6.5 hours per day over most of the country. The extreme southeast gets most sunshine, averaging over 7 hours a day in early summer. December is the dullest month, with an average daily sunshine ranging from about 1 hour in the north to almost 2 hours in the extreme southeast. The sunniest summer in the 100 years from 1881 to 1980 was 1887, according to measurements made at the Phoenix Park in Dublin; 1980 was the dullest.
Ireland is a constitutional republic with a
The President serves as
The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) serves as the head of government and is appointed by the President upon the nomination of the Dáil. Most Taoisigh have served as the leader of the political party that gains the most seats in national elections. It has become customary for coalitions to form a government, as there has not been a single-party government since 1989. Micheál Martin succeeded Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach on 27 June 2020, after forming a historic coalition between his Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael of Leo Varadkar.
The Dáil has 160 members (Teachtaí Dála) elected to represent multi-seat constituencies under the system of proportional representation and by means of the single transferable vote. The Seanad is composed of sixty members, with eleven nominated by the Taoiseach, six elected by two universities, and 43 elected by public representatives from panels of candidates established on a vocational basis.
Ireland has been a member state of the European Union since 1973. Citizens of the United Kingdom can freely enter the country without a passport due to the Common Travel Area, which is a passport-free zone comprising the islands of Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. However, some identification is required at airports and seaports.
Local authorities are responsible for matters such as planning, local roads, sanitation, and libraries. The breaching of county boundaries should be avoided as far as practicable in drawing
Ireland has a
Ireland's citizenship laws relate to "the island of Ireland", including islands and seas, thereby extending them to Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Therefore, anyone born in Northern Ireland who meets the requirements for being an Irish citizen, such as birth on the island of Ireland to an Irish or British citizen parent or a parent who is entitled to live in Northern Ireland or the Republic without restriction on their residency, may exercise an entitlement to Irish citizenship, such as an Irish passport.
Foreign relations are substantially influenced by membership of the European Union, although bilateral relations with the United Kingdom and United States are also important. It held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on six occasions, most recently from January to June 2013.
Ireland tends towards independence in foreign policy; thus the country is not a member of
Since 1999, Ireland has been a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) program and NATO's Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), which is aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Ireland is a
The Irish Defence Forces (Óglaigh na hÉireann) are made up of the
The Irish Air Corps is the air component of the Defence Forces and operates sixteen fixed wing aircraft and eight helicopters. The Irish Naval Service is Ireland's navy, and operates six
Ireland is an open economy (6th on the Index of Economic Freedom), and ranks first for "high-value" foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. Using the metric global GDP per capita, Ireland ranks 5th of 187 (IMF) and 6th of 175 (World Bank). The alternative metric modified Gross National Income (GNI) is intended to give a more accurate view of "activity in the domestic economy". This is particularly relevant in Ireland's small globalised economy, as GDP includes income from non-Irish owned companies, which flows out of Ireland. Indeed, foreign multinationals are the driver of Ireland's economy, employing a quarter of the private sector workforce, and paying 80% of Irish business taxes. 14 of Ireland's top 20 firms (by 2017 turnover) are US-based multinationals (80% of foreign multinationals in Ireland are from the US; there are no non-US/non-UK foreign firms in Ireland's top 50 firms by turnover, and only one by employees, that being German retailer Lidl at No. 41).
Ireland adopted the euro currency in 2002 along with eleven other
The country officially exited recession in 2010, assisted by a growth in exports from US multinationals in Ireland.
Ireland exited its EU-IMF bailout programme on 15 December 2013. Having implemented budget cuts, reforms and sold assets, Ireland was again able to access debt markets. Since then, Ireland has been able to sell long term bonds at record rates. However, the stabilisation of the Irish credit bubble required a large transfer of debt from the private sector balance sheet (highest OECD leverage), to the public sector balance sheet (almost unleveraged, pre-crisis), via Irish bank bailouts and public deficit spending. The transfer of this debt means that Ireland, in 2017, still has one of the highest levels of both public sector indebtedness, and private sector indebtedness, in the EU-28/OECD.
Ireland continues to de-leverage its domestic private sector while growing its US multinational-driven economy. Ireland became the main destination for US
Ireland's economy was transformed with the creation of a 10% low-tax "special economic zone", called the International Financial Services Centre (or "IFSC"), in 1987. In 1999, the entire country was effectively "turned into an IFSC" with the reduction of Irish corporation tax from 32% to 12.5% (the birth of Ireland's "low-tax" model). This accelerated Ireland's transition from a predominantly agricultural economy into a knowledge economy focused on attracting US multinationals from high-tech, life sciences, and financial services industries seeking to avail of Ireland's attractive corporate tax rates and unique corporate tax system.
The "multinational tax schemes" foreign firms use in Ireland materially distort Irish economic statistics. This reached a climax with the famous "leprechaun economics" GDP/GNP growth rates of 2015 (as Apple restructured its Irish subsidiaries in 2015). The Central Bank of Ireland introduced a new statistic, "modified GNI" (or GNI*), to remove these distortions. GNI* is 30% below GDP (or, GDP is 143% of GNI). As such, Ireland's GDP and GNP should no longer be used.
From the creation of the IFSC, the country experienced strong and sustained economic growth which fuelled a dramatic rise in Irish consumer borrowing and spending, and Irish construction and investment, which became known as the Celtic Tiger period. By 2007, Ireland had the highest private sector debt in the OECD with a household debt-to-disposable income ratio of 190%. Global capital markets, who had financed Ireland's build-up of debt in the Celtic Tiger period by enabling Irish banks to borrow in excess of the domestic deposit base (to over 180% at peak), withdrew support in the financial crisis of 2007–2008. Their withdrawal from the over-borrowed Irish credit system would precipitate a deep Irish property correction which then led to the Post-2008 Irish banking crisis.
Ireland's successful "low-tax" economy opens it to accusations of being a "corporate
Other goods exports include agri-food, cattle, beef, dairy products, and aluminum. Ireland's major imports include data processing equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, and clothing.
The EU is by far the country's largest trading partner, accounting for 57.9% of exports and 60.7% of imports. The United Kingdom is the most important trading partner within the EU, accounting for 15.4% of exports and 32.1% of imports. Outside the EU, the United States accounted for 23.2% of exports and 14.1% of imports in 2010.
The country's three main international airports at Dublin, Shannon and Cork serve many European and intercontinental routes with scheduled and chartered flights. The London to Dublin air route is the ninth busiest international air route in the world, and also the busiest international air route in Europe, with 14,500 flights between the two in 2017. In 2015, 4.5 million people took the route, at that time, the world's second-busiest. Aer Lingus is the flag carrier of Ireland, although Ryanair is the country's largest airline. Ryanair is Europe's largest low-cost carrier, the second largest in terms of passenger numbers, and the world's largest in terms of international passenger numbers.
Railway services are provided by
Dublin is served by major infrastructure such as the
Genetic research suggests that the earliest settlers migrated from
The population of Ireland stood at 4,761,865 in 2016, an increase of 12.3% since 2006.
At the time of the 2016 census, the number of non-Irish nationals was recorded at 535,475. This represents a 2% decrease from the 2011 census figure of 544,357. The five largest sources of non-Irish nationals were Poland (122,515), the UK (103,113), Lithuania (36,552), Romania (29,186) and Latvia (19,933) respectively. Compared with 2011, the number of UK, Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian nationals fell. There were four new additions to the top ten largest non-Irish nationalities in 2016: Brazilian (13,640), Spanish (12,112), Italian (11,732), and French (11,661).
urban centresby population (2016 census)
Functional urban areas
|Functional urban areas||Approx. population|
The Irish Constitution describes Irish as the "national language" and the "first official language", but English (the "second official language") is the dominant language. In the 2016 census, about 1.75 million people (40% of the population) said they were able to speak Irish but, of those, under 74,000 spoke it on a daily basis.
As a result of immigration,