Republic of Ireland
|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 reside 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"), who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President; the Taoiseach in turn appoints other government ministers.
Ireland is an advanced economy and 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 both GDP and GNI per capita. As of 2016, this was partially ascribed to distortions caused by the tax inversion practices of certain multinationals operating in Ireland. After joining the EC, the country's government enacted a series of liberal economic policies that helped to boost economic growth between 1995 and 2007, a period now often referred to as the Celtic Tiger. A period of recession and a reversal in growth then followed during the Great Recession, which was exacerbated by the bursting of the Irish property bubble.
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, with 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.
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.
The Dáil has 160 members (
The government is constitutionally limited to fifteen members. No more than two members can be selected from the Seanad, and the Taoiseach, Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) and Minister for Finance must be members of the Dáil. The Dáil must be dissolved within five years of its first meeting following the previous election, and a general election for members of the Dáil must take place no later than thirty days after the dissolution. In accordance with the Constitution of Ireland, parliamentary elections must be held at least every seven years, though a lower limit may be set by statute law. The current government is a coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party with Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael as Taoiseach and Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil as Tánaiste. Opposition parties in the current Dáil are Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, People Before Profit–Solidarity, Social Democrats, Aontú, as well as a number of independents.
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
In 2017, Ireland signed the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Ireland is an open economy (3rd on the Index of Economic Freedom in 2022), and ranks first for "high-value" foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. Ireland ranks 5th of 187 (IMF) and 6th of 175 (World Bank) in GDP per capita as well as ranking in the top ten for GNI per capita. An alternative metric, modified Gross National Income (GNI) was created by the Central Statistics Office and is sometimes used by the Irish government and to give an additional view of activity in the domestic economy stripping out the activities of large multinational export movements which can relate to intangible assets. This is particularly relevant in Ireland's globalised economy. US based multinationals are the main driver of Ireland's economy in the last decade, 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 and 80% of foreign multinationals in Ireland are from the US.
Ireland adopted the euro currency in 2002 along with eleven other
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 became one of the main destinations for US pharmaceutical corporate tax inversions from 2009 to 2016. and has also become one of the largest foreign locations for US technology multinationals such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
The transformation of Ireland's tax policy started 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%. This accelerated the later stages of Ireland's transition from a predominantly agricultural economy into a knowledge and service economy initially focused on property and construction and later focused on attracting mainly US multinationals from high-tech, life sciences, and financial services industries seeking to avail of Ireland's low corporation tax rates and favourable 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 gross national income, to remove these distortions. GNI* is 30% below GDP (or, GDP is 143% of GNI).
From the creation of the
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.
There have been significant efforts to increase the use of renewable and sustainable forms of energy in Ireland, particularly in
As of 2021, Ireland was the 24th largest wind energy producer in the world and the 3rd ranked in 2020 on a per capita basis.
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
The following is a list of functional urban areas in Ireland (as defined by the OECD) and their approximate populations as of 2015[update].
|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,