source: CIA World Factbook 1998
[Country Flag of Ireland]
[Country map of Ireland]

Ireland Government, History, Population & Geography


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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

total: 70,280 sq km
land: 68,890 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:
continental shelf: not specified
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: 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: Carrauntoohill 1,041 m

Natural resources: zinc, lead, natural gas, barite, copper, gypsum, limestone, dolomite, peat, silver

Land use:
arable land: 13%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 68%
forests and woodland: 5%
other: 14% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

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, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Endangered Species, Marine Life Conservation, Tropical Timber 94

Geography—note: strategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe; over 40% of the population resides within 60 miles of Dublin


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Population: 3,619,480 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 22% (male 406,741; female 384,459)
15-64 years: 67% (male 1,218,514; female 1,200,214)
65 years and over: 11% (male 173,978; female 235,574) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.36% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 13.49 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 8.51 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 6.04 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.19 years
male: 73.44 years
female: 79.11 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.82 children born/woman (1998 est.)

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

Ethnic groups: Celtic, English

Religions: Roman Catholic 93%, Anglican 3%, none 1%, unknown 2%, other 1% (1981)

Languages: Irish (Gaelic), spoken mainly in areas located along the western seaboard, English is the language generally used

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98% (1981 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%


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Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Ireland

Data code: EI

Government type: republic

National capital: Dublin

Administrative divisions: 26 counties; Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow

Independence: 6 December 1921 (from UK)

National holiday: Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March

Constitution: 29 December 1937; adopted 1 July 1937 by plebiscite

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: Prime Minister Bertie AHERN (since 26 June 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with previous nomination by the prime minister and approval of the House of Representatives
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 31 October 1997 (next to be held NA November 2001); prime minister 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 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 are elected by direct popular vote and proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate—last held NA August 1997 (next to be held NA 2002); House of Representatives—last held 6 June 1997 (next to be held NA 2002)
election results: Senate—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—NA; House of Representatives—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—Fianna Fail 77, Fine Gael 54, Labor Party 17, Progressive Democrats 4, Democratic Left 4, Greens 2, Sinn Fein 1, independents 7

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

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Left [Proinsias DE ROSSA]; Fianna Fail [Bertie AHERN]; Labor Party [Ruairi QUINN]; Fine Gael [John BRUTON]; Communist Party of Ireland [Michael O'RIORDAN]; Sinn Fein [Gerry ADAMS]; Progressive Democrats [Mary HARNEY]; The Workers' Party [Marion DONNELLY]; Green Alliance [Patricia HOWARD]
note: Prime Minister AHERN heads a two-party coalition consisting of Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats


Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Sean O'HUIGINN
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, and San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jean Kennedy SMITH
embassy: 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [353] (1) 6688777
FAX: [353] (1) 6689946

Flag description: three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and orange; 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


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Economy—overview: The economy is small and trade dependent. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts for 38% of GDP, about 80% of exports, and employs 27% of the labor force. Although exports remain the primary engine for Ireland's robust growth, the economy is also benefiting from a rise in consumer spending and recovery in both construction and business investment. Since the 1980s, inflation has fallen sharply and chronic trade deficits have been transformed into annual surpluses. Unemployment remains a serious problem, however, and job creation is the main focus of government policy. To ease unemployment, Dublin aggressively courts foreign investors and recently created a new industrial development agency to aid small indigenous firms.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$59.9 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 6% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$18,600 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 8.5%
industry: 38.3%
services: 53.2% (1995)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 1.6% (1997)

Labor force:
total: 1.52 million (1997 est.)
by occupation: services 62.1%, manufacturing and construction 27.0%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 10.0%, utilities 0.9% (1996 est.)

Unemployment rate: 11.8% (1997)

revenues: $20.6 billion
expenditures: $20.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $5.2 billion (1997)

Industries: food products, brewing, textiles, clothing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, transportation equipment, glass and crystal

Industrial production growth rate: 10.1% (1997 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 3.62 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 16.586 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 4,672 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: turnips, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat; meat and dairy products

total value: $54.8 billion (f.o.b., 1997)
commodities: chemicals, data processing equipment, industrial machinery, live animals, animal products
partners: EU 66% (UK 22%, Germany 13%, France 8%), US 6%

total value: $44.9 billion (c.i.f., 1997)
commodities: food, animal feed, data processing equipment, petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, textiles, clothing
partners: EU 52% (UK 29%, Germany 10.2%, France 4%), US 12%

Debt—external: $14 billion (1996)

Economic aid:
donor: ODA, $81 million (1993)

Currency: 1 Irish pound (ĢIr) = 100 pence

Exchange rates: Irish pounds (ĢIr) per US$1—0.7233 (January 1997), 0.6588 (1997), 0.6248 (1996), 0.6235 (1995), 0.6676 (1994), 0.6816 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 900,000 (1987 est.)

Telephone system: modern digital system using cable and microwave radio relay
domestic: microwave radio relay
international: satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 9, FM 45, shortwave 0

Radios: 2.2 million (1991 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 86 (1987 est.)

Televisions: 1.025 million (1990 est.)


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total: 1,947 km
broad gauge: 1,947 km 1.600-m gauge (38 km electrified; 485 km double track) (1996)

total: 92,500 km
paved: 87,042 km (including 80 km of expressways)
unpaved: 5,458 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: limited for commercial traffic

Pipelines: natural gas 225 km

Ports and harbors: Arklow, Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, Foynes, Galway, Limerick, New Ross, Waterford

Merchant marine:
total: 39 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 116,059 GRT/149,149 DWT
ships by type: bulk 1, cargo 30, chemical tanker 1, container 3, oil tanker 2, short-sea passenger 2 (1997 est.)

Airports: 44 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 15
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 7 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 29
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 25 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Army (includes Naval Service and Air Corps), National Police (Garda Siochana)

Military manpower—military age: 17 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 967,621 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 784,766 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 35,338 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $618 million (1994)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 1.3% (1994)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: Northern Ireland question with the UK (historic peace agreement approved 10 April 1998); Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark, Iceland, and the UK (Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area)

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for and consumer of hashish from North Africa to the UK and Netherlands and of European-produced synthetic drugs; transshipment point for heroin and cocaine

source: CIA World Factbook 1998

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