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The Republic of Ireland is located on the island of
the same name in the Atlantic Ocean west of Great
Britain, separated from it by the Irish Sea. With a
national area of 70,284 km², the Republic takes up
about five sixths of the total island area. In the
north, the state borders on Northern Ireland, which is
part of Great Britain. The Irish name Eire for Ireland
comes from the Celtic (Erin) and means something like
The majority of Ireland consists of the Irish
lowlands, which extend from the west to the east in the
central area of the island and are characterized by
numerous lakes and extensive marshes. The largest lake
with an area of 181 km² is the Lough Corrib in the
west of the country. The 361 km long Shannon is the
longest river in Ireland and flows through the lowlands
from north to south and flows into the Atlantic.
Three mountain formations border the lowlands: in the
north, the foothills of the Caledonian Mountains form
the Northern Irish Highlands, of which only the
northwest belongs to the Republic. South of the capital
Dublin are the Wicklow Mountains, which are just over
900 m high and extend south along the east coast. The
mountain range in the southern part of the island
belongs geologically to the Armorican mountain system,
with the Carrantuohill at 1,041 m as the highest
elevation in the country.
The coastline is over 3,200 km long and particularly
structured in the west and is rich in bays (e.g.
The balanced oceanic climate of Ireland is shaped by
the west winds from the Atlantic Ocean and by the
influences of the Gulf Stream. The hallmarks are cool
summers and mild winters: average temperatures in Dublin
on the country's east coast are around 5 ¡ã C in January
and around 15 ¡ã C in July. Precipitation decreases from
west to east. While an average of up to 3,000 mm per
year is measured in the west, it is only around 760 mm
on the east coast. Heavy storms often occur in the west
and northwest of the island.
Flora and fauna
Ireland is also called the "Green Island": more than
half of the country consists of meadows and pastures.
While the original vegetation was characterized by
deciduous forests, today only 5% are covered by forests
(oak, birch, alder, willow). A diverse floral world
grows in the extensive Irish moorland, for example wild
thyme, bell heather, swamp heart leaf and various
carnivorous plants such as sundew.
In contrast to mammals, bird life is extremely
diverse, especially among seabirds. Examples include the
curlew, oystercatchers, puffins, gannets and cormorants.
The golden eagle is considered extinct. There is only
one lizard species on the island of reptiles.
The population of the Republic of Ireland is said to
be 4.04 million. About a quarter of them (one million)
live in the greater Dublin area on the east coast of the
island. With a population density of around 57 residents
per square kilometer, the Republic is one of the most
sparsely populated European countries.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 95% of the residents are Irish, and small
minorities of English, Welsh and Northern Irish also
live in the country. However, since the EU enlargement
and as a result of migration from non-European
countries, the proportion of foreigners has increased
rapidly. Especially people from Poland, the Baltic
States, China, the Philippines and Nigeria are flocking
to the country. Over 86% of the population belong to the
Roman Catholic Church, which still plays an important
role for the people of the country. In addition to
English, Irish (Gaelic), which is one of the Celtic
languages, is the second official language of the
It was not until the 1970s that the population of the
republic rose above the three million mark. After the
Second World War, a large wave of emigration depopulated
the country, the preferred destination was neighboring
Great Britain. As early as the 19th century, famines and
a subsequent large wave of emigration had led to the
decimation of the island's population. Today population
growth is 2.6%, which is also due to the relatively high
immigration rate. A baby born in Ireland today has a
life expectancy of 77.5 years. The literacy of the
population is almost complete.
Ireland is a parliamentary republic based on the
constitution of 1937. The head of state is the
President, who has been directly elected by the people
for seven years (since 2011 Michael D. Higgins). He
appoints the Prime Minister on the proposal of the House
of Commons (Enda Kenny since 2011). The cabinet is also
appointed by the president after the prime minister
proposes the ministers and the parliament has given its
The legislature lies with a bicameral parliament
(Oireachtas), consisting of the lower house (D¨¢il
Éireann, 166 MPs, directly elected for five years) and
the Senate (Seanad Éireann, 60 MPs, eleven of whom were
appointed by the Prime Minister) rest of the
universities and five electoral colleges are elected for
five years). The main political parties in the Republic
of Ireland are the liberal-conservative Fine Gael (Irish
family, FG), the Labor Party, the Green Party (GP), the
national-conservative, Republican Fianna F¨¢il (Soldiers
of Destiny, FF) and the Republican Sinn F¨¦in.
The supreme judicial body is the Supreme Court in
Ireland is divided into four provinces with 26
counties and four county boroughs.
Since joining the EU in 1973, Ireland has transformed
from an essentially agricultural society into the
"Celtic Tiger", a modern, technically sophisticated
economy, which has been supported by tax incentives for
foreign investors and EU funding. The global financial
and confidence crisis of 2007/2008 did not stop at
Ireland either. The badly hit Irish banking system
became a risk factor for euro area stability in 2010. In
November 2010, Ireland received a support package from
the EU and the International Monetary Fund, which
included a government finance consolidation program.
Thanks to a continued austerity policy, the country
successfully returned to the capital market in early
2013. For 2012, Ireland saw slight GDP growth of 0.9%.
However, unemployment remained at a record level of just
The contribution of the agricultural sector to gross
domestic product (GDP) has now dropped to 1%. Livestock
farming is of great importance, almost 85% of the
agricultural area is used as pasture. Due to the mild
climate, the animals can be kept outdoors all year
round. Large surpluses are generated in dairy farming
and sheep farming. Mainly potatoes, sugar beets and
barley are grown (as feed and as a base for brewing).
The lion's share is generated by the service sector
(67% of GDP in 2012).
32% of GDP is generated by industry, especially in
the areas of steel, zinc, silver, gypsum and barite
processing and aluminum smelting, food processing,
chemical industry, mechanical engineering, shipbuilding
and vehicle construction as well as software
development. The main export is to the USA and within
the EU. The country's energy needs are covered by oil,
natural gas and coal, but its own resources are not
Tourism is very important.
Ireland has a well-developed infrastructure with
around 3,300 km of rails, 96,000 km of roads and
numerous ports. International airports are in Dublin,
Carrickfinn, Farranfore, Shannon, Galway, Cork and
The currency is the euro.