Ireland is a republic on the island of Ireland off the northwest coast of Europe. The Republic comprises 83 percent of the island and borders in the north to Northern Ireland and the North Channel, to the east to the Irish Sea, to the southeast to St. George’s Channel and to the west to the Atlantic.
Ireland’s area is about the size of Oppland, Hedmark and Sør-Trøndelag combined. Ireland is Europe’s third largest island and is divided between the predominantly Catholic Republic of Ireland and the northeastern part, Northern Ireland, which is a province of the United Kingdom. The province has divided the population between Protestant unionists and Catholic nationalists.
The Irish Republic was long characterized by an oppressive British rule, distress and population decline. Since Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949, it has claimed Northern Ireland, but removed its constitutional requirement in 1998. In the Northern Ireland peace process, an overwhelming majority of Irish voted to remove this requirement in a referendum. This was a demand of the Unionist Protestants in Northern Ireland.
The population is 4,761,865 inhabitants (2016). The capital is Dublin with 553 165 inhabitants (2016).
The name Ireland comes from Éire ; the word has uncertain origins.
Ireland’s national anthem is ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ (‘Soldier’s Song’).
Ireland’s national symbol is a harp.
Geography and environment
Central areas are made up of a wide plain with meadows, peat bogs and lakes, which has given Ireland the nickname “The Green Island”. The plain is surrounded by several groups of hills and ridges.
There are several navigable rivers; furthest in Ireland and the British Isles is Shannon. To the west and north are the mountain ranges of Connaught and Donegal. The largest upland areas are the Wicklow Mountains in the east, and in the southwest there are a number of smaller mountain ranges with Ireland’s highest peak Carrantuohill, 1041 meters above sea level.
The west coast is strongly intersected with many islands outside. In several places steep cliffs plunge into the sea. The east coast has a smoother coastline.
Ireland has a temperate coastal climate with western Atlantic winds, which brings frequent low pressure. Precipitation falls at all seasons, most in the mountainous regions in the west at 1400–2000 millimeters per year. There are small temperature differences between summer and winter.
The western areas mainly have Atlantic vegetation where lightning, marsh and aquatic plants as well as mosses and lowland dominate. In the East, plant growth is largely the same as in England. Ireland is poor.
26 mammal species occur naturally; common is rabbit, hare, deer, vånd, mole, otters and badgers. Of about 450 species of birds observed, 140 are nesting. On the south-west coast there are seabird colonies. The only reptiles are lizards and steelworms. The amphibians consist of frogs, beach toads and small salamanders.
People and society
The population is mainly of Celtic origin and with Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian elements. There has been a significant migration of people from inner areas to the coastal cities. More than one million people live in the Dublin area.
Ireland reached its highest population around 1840, but famine and famine in the 1840s and later led to the emigration of 1.5 million Irish, mainly to the United States. Today, more people of Irish descent live in North America than in Ireland. About one million Irish died during the famine between 1845 and 1849.
At the 2016 census, 78 percent of the population identified with the Roman Catholic Church. About 1.5 percent profess to the Anglican Church. In recent decades, the Catholic Church has lost much of its former direct political power. The “non-religious” group is growing year on year and was ten percent in 2016.
Irish (Gaelic) and English are official languages. English is in common use while Irish is spoken mainly in areas on the west coast and islands offshore.
State and politics
Ireland is a republic with a parliamentary system of governance. The president is the head of the republic and is elected for seven years, and has largely a formal role. The President appoints the Prime Minister (Taoiseach) and on his proposal the other ministers. Parliament consists of the House of Representatives (Dáil Éireann) with 166 members elected in the general election for five years, and the Senate (Seanad Éireann) with 60 members elected for five years.
Traditionally, the whole of Ireland has been divided into four provinces (Connaught in the west, Leinster in the east, Munster in the south and Ulster in the north) and 32 counties (counties). The Constitution also counts on the six counties that make up Northern Ireland. Following reorganizations, including Dublin, the whole of Ireland consists of a total of 34 counties. There are 88 municipalities.
Ireland has no military service. Military personnel are employed or recruited for at least three years at a time. The defense branches are the army, the navy, the air force and the reserve forces.
Ireland is a member of the UN, the World Bank, the EU, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the OECD, etc. Visit Abbreviationfinder for other organization abbreviations of Ireland.
The first people immigrated about 7,000 before our time count. In younger Stone Age came new people groups who ran agriculture and built the stone tombs. In the Bronze Age beautiful objects of gold and copper were made partly for export to the continent.
The Iron Age lasted from about 600 BCE. to 400 CE. In contrast to England was Ireland never incorporated into the Roman Empire. On the contrary, Celtic Irish attacked English coasts during the Roman Empire.
According to tradition, the Irish were christened by St. Patrick in 432, and in the centuries that followed, a monastic culture developed independently of the papacy. Around the year 800, Norwegian and Danish Vikings joined the ravages and created several small kingdoms. In 852, the Norwegian chief Olav Kvite founded the kingdom of Dublin. The Battle of Clontarf in 1014 ended the Norse attempt to conquer all of Ireland.
Political divisions helped the English conquer Ireland’s east coast in the period 1166–1175. After the Reformation in the 16th century, the Irish remained Roman Catholic while the English established an Anglican church, which worsened the relationship between Ireland and England. In the 1400s and 1500s, all Irish land was confiscated and the Irish deprived of their civil rights. In the northern part of the island, Catholic Irish were displaced by Protestant Englishmen. Rebellion attempts were turned down, including after three years of fighting in 1699, which led to the first mass emigration to America.
In 1801, Ireland was forced into union with Britain. When the potato crops failed in 1845 to 1846, about one million Irish people starved to death, and that happened then and in the years that followed a considerable emigration to America.
The Easter rebellion against the British in 1916 was brutally beaten. After a rebellion condition was Ireland one free state with the status of dominion and with its own parliament, while Northern Ireland remained British. The Nationalist Party Sinn Fein led the fight for the incorporation of the six northernmost provinces and demanded full separation from the British Empire. In 1937, Ireland became independent and resumed its claim on Northern Ireland. During World War II, Ireland was neutral. In 1949, the country emerged from the Commonwealth as an independent republic while Northern Ireland remained British.
Ireland joined the EU in 1973 and introduced the euro as a currency in 2002. From 1973 there was a strong economic growth from a poor agricultural economy to a strong high-tech export sector which gave the country the name “The Celtic Tiger”. The economy was in recession after the economic crisis in 2008 ; Among other things, banks collapsed, and unemployment increased. Emigration was once again a factor for Irish society, but after a financial rescue package from the EU in 2010 and an agreement with the European Central Bank in 2013 to ease the country’s debt burden, the Irish economy gradually recovered.
The Easter rebellion was a rebellion against the British government in Ireland in 1916. The picture shows Dublin shortly after the rebellion.
Economy and business
Agriculture is significant, but plays less role today than before and accounts for two per cent of GDP (2010). Most important are livestock, with livestock and dairy production mostly in the south, east and central areas, and sheep stock in the west. There are also some pig teams.
The cultivation of barley, wheat and oats is most prevalent in the southeast and east; root vegetables such as potatoes, turnips and sugar beets are also grown. The fishing industry is modest, but in development.
Ireland has large deposits of lead, zinc, copper, silver, oil and natural gas. The industry accounts for 29 percent of GDP (2010). Important is the electronic, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The food and beverage industry (including slaughterhouses and breweries) as well as the textile industry and the production of machinery and transport equipment are significant.
Major trading partners are the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France and Belgium.
Knowledge and culture
Schooling is compulsory for anyone between the ages of 6 and 16. Secondary school is two-year and high school three-year.
There are seven universities in Ireland; the oldest is Dublin University (Trinity College ), founded in 1592.
There are seven daily newspapers, two evening newspapers and eight Sunday newspapers, all in English. There are Irish-language weekly newspapers. Several major UK newspapers are sold in Ireland. It is a national broadcasting company with radio and television channels as well as many private radio stations and television channels.
The literature can be divided into Irish and English languages. The Irish language is the richest of Celtic literature. In the 19th century, Irish-language literature, with an emphasis on legends and the supernatural, almost died out. Modern lyric is the highest, with names such as Maírtín Ó Direáin (1910–1988), Sean Ó Riordáin (1917–1977), Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (1952–) and the prose writer Tomás Mac Siómóin (1938–).
From the late 1800s onwards, English-language Irish poetry flourished by names such as the lyricist and playwright William Butler Yeats (Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923), prose writer James Joyce, Kate O’Brien, Liam O’Flaherty, George Bernard Shaw (Nobel Prize in literature in 1925), Brendan Behan, Samuel Beckett (Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969) and the Northern Irish-born Irishman Seamus Heaney (Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995).
The Irish harp symbolizes the music life of the Middle Ages. Continental art music came to Ireland in the 17th century. A rich folk tradition is nurtured; this is reconciled with modern expression of, among others, Enya. Other famous names are the singer Sinéad O’Connor, the show song group The Dubliners, rock band The Cranberries and the group U2. Ireland has won the Melody Grand Prix seven times.
Ireland is known for the popular dance shows ‘Riverdance’ and ‘Lord of the Dance’.
In Irish medieval art, animal and ribbon ornamentation, stone crosses and illuminated manuscripts are labeled as ‘The Book of Kells’. The greatest name in Irish art history is the painter Francis Bacon (1909-1994).