Form of Government: Republic
Area: 70 273 sq km
Population: 4 921 500 inhab. (estimate 2019)
Density: 70.03 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 55° - 51° N; long. 11° - 6° W
Capital: Dublin/Baile Átha Cliath (capital) 554 554 inhab. (2016); Dublin/Baile Átha Cliath 1 173 179 inhab. (2016), urban agglomeration
Currency: euro (100 cents)
Human development index: 0.942 (rank: 3)
President: Michael Daniel Higgins (LP), elected 29 October 2011, reconfirmed 27 October 2018
Prime Minister: Micheál Martin (FF), since 27 June 2020
House of Representatives (Dáil Éireann): seats based on the elections of 8 February 2020: SF (Sinn Féin: “Ourselves Alone”, republican, nationalist), 37; FF (Fianna Fáil: “Soldiers of Destiny”, populist, nationalist), 37; FG (Fine Gael: “Tribe of the Gaels”, christian democratic, nationalist), 35; Green Party (ecologist), 12; LP (Labour Party), 6; others, 33
Internet: www.cso.ie (Central Statistics Office Ireland)
Member of Council of Europe, EBRD, EU, OAS observer, OECD, OSCE, UN, WTO
International license plate code IRL
International dialling code 00353
Travel vaccinations requirement none
Electricity (Voltage) 230
Driving side left
Internet code .ie
DST duration (start-end) late March-late October
Annual average temperature (°C) Dublin 9.5
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Dublin 4.5/15.5
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Dublin 6/2
Annual average precipitation (mm) Dublin 775
Days of rainfall (annual average) Dublin 139
Politics and current affairs
The general elections held on 8 February 2020 ratified the consensus for Sinn Féin (SF) with 24.5% of the popular vote. Fianna Fáil - The Republican Party (FF, 22.2%) gained the same number of seats (37), while Fine Gael (FG) only won 20.9% and 35 seats. After months of talks, FF, FG and the Greens formed a coalition government, excluding SF: Micheál Martin became prime minister on 27 June.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all non-essential businesses were closed to limit infections on 27 March. The border issue with Northern Ireland after Brexit was regulated with an agreement signed on 17 October 2019 aimed at avoiding new border controls.
Ireland is bordered to the north-east by the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland). To the east lies the Irish Sea, and to the north, south and west the Atlantic Ocean. The low central plains, containing large tracts of water, are often broken up by rounded hills; along the coastline there are isolated hilly areas such as the Kerry Mountains (Carrantuohill, 1038 m) to the south-west, the Wicklow Mountains (Lugnaquillia, 924 m) to the east, and the mountains of Donegal to the north. The main river is the River Shannon, linked to the Irish Sea by a series of canals. There are numerous lakes. The climate is oceanic with abundant rainfall, fog and little sunshine.
Subjected to English rule, Eire became a “free state” (although still a Dominion of the British Crown) in 1922, following a rebellion led by the IRA (Irish Republican Army), the armed wing of the nationalist movement, Sinn Féin. The six northern counties were, however, left out of the agreement, remaining with the United Kingdom under the name of Northern Ireland, where a resistance movement to British rule developed. In 1949, a Republic was proclaimed and Eire left the Commonwealth.
From 1993 onwards, Anglo-Irish talks to find a solution to the civil war in Ulster made substantial progress, leading to the 10 April 1998 agreement made in Belfast by British and Irish representatives and by exponents of the Ulster republicans and unionists. As a result of this, on 2 December 1999 Ireland gave up its territorial claims on Ulster.
On the basis of the Constitution of 29 December 1937, the President of the Republic is elected by direct suffrage for seven years. Executive power belongs to the Government, presided by the Prime Minister who is responsible before Parliament. The latter is made up of the House of Representatives (the Dáil Éireann, 160 members elected by direct suffrage) and the Senate (Seanad Éireann, 60 members, 43 of which are chosen by indirect election, six chosen by the universities and eleven appointed by the Prime Minister), renewed every 5 years.
The armed forces provide a permanent defence force (made up of an army, navy and air force) and a reserve force. Military service is voluntary.
The legal system is based on British Common Law, modified according to local customs.
|Dublin/Baile Átha Cliath||554 554||inhab.||2016|
|Dublin/Baile Átha Cliath||1 173 179||inhab.||2016|
|Population by age and gender (% - 2018)|
Ireland is a country with long emigration tradition. Significant social changes are underway through several referendums: in 2015, there was a vote regarding gay marriage; in 2018, there was another about the right to an abortion; and in 2019, a referendum was held on liberalizing the divorce laws.
|Foreigners, total||622 700||units||2019|
After 5.5% growth in 2019, Ireland’s open economy was impacted by the international crisis and the lockdown closures: it is expected to shrink by 8.5% in 2020. Unemployment is expected to reach 7.5%, despite promises of sizeable stimulus package by the new government. Uncertainty about the future is considerable, especially in relation to the international economy and the effects of Brexit.
|Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)||109.82||index||2016|
|Balance of trade||71 297||M US$||2019|
|Active population||2 443 400||units||2019|
|Active population, Females||45.9||%||2019|
|Unemployment rate, Females||43.8||%||2019|
|Expenses||81 323.4||M LCU||2019|
|Revenues||83 194.3||M LCU||2019|
|Currency in circulation||20.799||BN LCU||2019|
|International reserves||5 732.5||M US$||2019|
Agriculture and livestock.
The main agricultural products are oats, barley, wheat and potatoes. The largest share in terms of income in the sector is provided by livestock farming which contributes significantly to exports.
A fleet of over 2000 boats work in the fishing sector.
|barley||1 224.9||1000 t||2018|
|cereals, total||1 855.755||1000 t||2018|
|roots and tubers, total||273||1000 t||2018|
|carrots and turnips||69.4||1000 t||2018|
|beans, dry||21||1000 t||2018|
|beans, green||1.698||1000 t||2018|
|sugar beet||78.597||1000 t||2018|
|fruits, total||35.503||1000 t||2018|
|carrots and turnips||1.208||1000 ha||2018|
|beans, dry||7.8||1000 ha||2018|
|beans, green||0.212||1000 ha||2018|
|sugar beet||1.39||1000 ha||2018|
|timber||3 540 623||m³||2018|
|cattle||7 348.5||1000 heads||2018|
|cattle and buffaloes||7 348.5||1000 heads||2018|
|pigs||1 621.9||1000 heads||2018|
|sheep||5 109.3||1000 heads||2018|
|asses and mules||8.235||1000 heads||2018|
|birds||17 913||1000 heads||2018|
|crustaceans and molluscs||50 849||t||2018|
Ireland has good supplies of peat and natural gas, although the offshore Kinsale Head gas field is nearing depletion, while the Barryroe oil field is under development. Lead, zinc and silver are mined at Tynagh, Abbeytown, Ballinalack and Galmoy.
The country remains dependent upon energy supplies from abroad (gas pipelines from Scotland). A disputed regasification terminal in County Kerry is being planned. A marine wind farm is in operation off the coast of Dublin: the country has the ambitious plan to produce 40% of its energy using renewable resources by 2020.
Foreign investment has enabled an effective and rapid modernization of the industry. The electronic and information sectors are very important, as too are the technological parks in Dublin and Athlone. The EU headquarters of Google and Facebook are located in Dublin and Apple HQ is in Cork; there is growing pressure for increased checks on their fiscal position and use of personal data.
An oil refinery is active at Whitegate. There are basic chemical plants and shipyards (Galway). Pharmaceutical, mechanical, tobacco manufacturing, distillery and brewery (Guinness) plants are located in the capital. There are other large breweries and distilleries in Cork, Kilkenny and Dundalk.
|coal, total||60||1000 t||2012|
|sand and gravel - t||7 000||1000 t||2015|
|- thermal||19 197||M kWh||2018|
|- other renew.||9 573||M kWh||2018|
|- thermal||6 489||1000 kW||2017|
|- other renew.||3 733||1000 kW||2018|
|total net generation||29 296||M kWh||2018|
|total installed capacity||10 491||1000 kW||2017|
|alumina||1 874||1000 t||2018|
|lead, secondary||15||1000 t||2018|
|air conditioners||577 300||no.||2004|
|fertilizers||2 436.2||1000 t||2018|
|cotton yarn||0.008||1000 t||2004|
|beer of barley||800||1000 t||2014|
|fish, frozen||135.5||1000 t||2019|
|cigarettes||6 599.2||M units||2002|
|other paper||60||1000 t||2018|
|cement||4 132.6||1000 t||2019|
|chemicals production||41 300.6||M US$||2016|
|food, beverages and tobacco production||8 912.3||M US$||2018|
An exceptionally high share of exports relates to high technology products. Energy and mineral resources, industrial equipment and foodstuffs are the main imports.
The most important business partners are the EU countries and the USA.
Main exports (M US$ - 2017) pharmaceuticals 38 322, chemicals 28 342, optical and electro-medical appliances 14 132, electrical and electronic equipment 9 166, odoriferous mixtures for industry 7 838, aircraft and parts thereof 6 945, fresh and preserved meat 4 345, machinery 4 124, computers and accessories 3 680, milk and dairy products 2 657, malt extract 2 274, plastics 1 469, spirits 1 033, petroleum products 744, iron and steel 666, food preparations 631, fish and crustaceans 604, live animals 504, timber 484, building materials 439, dyes 384, vehicles and parts thereof 367, residues and wastes of food industry 361, beer 309, chocolate 296, casein 294
Finance & banking.
The banking system and financial technology have developed and diversified thanks in part to favourable fiscal policies. There is a Stock Exchange in Dublin.
|manufactures||88.546||% of goods exports||2018|
|food products||8.954||% of goods exports||2018|
|United States||52 574||M US$||2019|
|United Kingdom||17 655||M US$||2019|
|United Kingdom||22 826||M US$||2019|
|United States||15 694||M US$||2019|
Tourism. Tourism is relatively sustained: the main destinations are Dublin and the coastal resorts.
|Expenditures||7 390||M US$||2018|
|Number of arrivals||10 926 000||units||2018|
The modern efficient road network converges on the two main cities of Dublin and Cork. Navigation along the inland canals is mainly devoted to tourism. Travel limitations have impacted the airline Ryanair.
Media and telecommunication.
Telecom Éireann, the public organisation that administered the telecommunications service, was privatised in 1999, taking the name of Eircom. The radio and television service is managed by Radio Teilifís Éireann (RTE).
There are also approximately twenty local commercial radio stations and a television channel in Gaelic (TG4).
|Civil aviation, km flown||235 700 000||km flown||2004|
|Civil aviation, passengers carried||167 598.6||1000 units||2018|
|Broadband subscribers||296.794||per 1000 pop.||2018|
|Computers||582.1||per 1000 pop.||2008|
Social and welfare
Education and research.
School is compulsory for nine years, from 6 to 15 years of age. Primary education is free and lasts for six years; secondary education includes four different course types and is divided into a cycle of three years, an optional transitional year and a second cycle of two years. Higher education is provided by the universities of Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick.
Social security and health.
The social security system, is funded by contributions from both employees as well as employers, with subsidies from the state.
Public care programmes are also provided for those who do not benefit from contribution-based protection.
|Expected years of schooling||18.7||years||2017|
|Teachers, primary level||32 267||units||2012|
|Teachers, secondary level||29 729||units||2006|
|Social protection spending||35.4||% of total expenses||2018|
|Social protection spending||14.4||% of GDP||2018|
|Hospital beds||2.97||per 1000 pop.||2018|
|Physicians||3.34||per 1000 pop.||2019|
|HIV||0.2||% of adults||2018|
|Research and development spending||1.15||% of GDP||2018|
|Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking||100||%||2016|
|Access to electricity||100||%||2018|