[Country map of Ireland]



Location: Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain

Map references: Europe

total area: 70,280 sq km
land area: 68,890 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries: total 360 km, UK 360 km

Coastline: 1,448 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: not specified
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: Northern Ireland question with the UK; Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark, Iceland, and the UK (Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area)

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

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

Land use:
arable land: 14%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 71%
forest and woodland: 5%
other: 10%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: water pollution, especially of lakes, from agricultural runoff
natural hazards: NA
international agreements: party to - Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Biodiversity, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation

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


Population: 3,550,448 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24% (female 415,640; male 440,468)
15-64 years: 64% (female 1,125,638; male 1,155,823)
65 years and over: 12% (female 237,098; male 175,781) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.33% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 14.04 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 8.48 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -2.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 7.2 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.99 years
male: 73.15 years
female: 79 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.95 children born/woman (1995 est.)

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

Ethnic divisions: 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

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1981 est.)
total population: 98%

Labor force: 1.37 million
by occupation: services 57.0%, manufacturing and construction 28%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 13.5%, energy and mining 1.5% (1992)


conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Ireland

Digraph: EI

Type: republic

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 plebescite

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 Bourke ROBINSON (since 9 November 1990); election last held 9 November 1990 (next to be held November 1997); results - Mary Bourke ROBINSON 52.8%, Brian LENIHAN 47.2%
head of government: Prime Minister John BRUTON (since 15 December 1994)
cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by president with previous nomination of the prime minister and approval of the House of Representatives

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament (Oireachtas)
Senate (Seanad Eireann): elections last held NA February 1992 (next to be held NA February 1997); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (60 total, 49 elected) Fianna Fail 26, Fine Gael 16, Labor 9, Progressive Democrats 2, Democratic Left 1, independents 6
House of Representatives (Dail Eireann): elections last held on 25 November 1992 (next to be held by November 1997); results - Fianna Fail 39.1%, Fine Gael 24.5%, Labor Party 19.3%, Progressive Democrats 4.7%, Democratic Left 2.8%, Sinn Fein 1.6%, Workers' Party 0.7%, independents 5.9%; seats - (166 total) Fianna Fail 68, Fine Gael 45, Labor Party 33, Progressive Democrats 10 Democratic Left 4, Greens 1, independents 5

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Left, Proinsias DE ROSSA; Fianna Fail, Bertie AHERN; Labor Party, Richard SPRING; Fine Gael, John BRUTON; Communist Party of Ireland, Michael O'RIORDAN; Sinn Fein, Gerry ADAMS; Progressive Democrats, Desmond O'MALLEY; The Workers' Party, Marion DONNELLY; Green Alliance, Bronwen MAHER
note: Prime Minister BRUTON heads a three-party coalition consisting of the Fine Gael, the Labor Party, and the Democratic Left


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Dermot A. GALLAGHER
chancery: 2234 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 462-3939
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jean Kennedy SMITH
embassy: 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [353] (1) 6687122
FAX: [353] (1) 6689946

Flag: three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and orange; similar to the flag of the 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


Overview: The economy is small and trade dependent. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts for 37% of GDP, about 80% of exports, and employs 28% 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. Ireland has substantially reduced its external debt since 1987, to 40% of GDP in 1994. Over the same period, 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. Government assistance is constrained by Dublin's continuing deficit reduction measures.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $49.8 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 5.5% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $14,060 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.7% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: 16% (1994 est.)

revenues: $16 billion
expenditures: $16.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1994)

Exports: $28 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: chemicals, data processing equipment, industrial machinery, live animals, animal products
partners: EU 75% (UK 32%, Germany 13%, France 10%), US 9%

Imports: $26 billion (c.i.f., 1994 est.)
commodities: food, animal feed, data processing equipment, petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, textiles, clothing
partners: EU 66% (UK 41%, Germany 8%, France 4%), US 15%

External debt: $20 billion (1994 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 8.5% (1994 est.); accounts for 37% of GDP

capacity: 3,930,000 kW
production: 14.9 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 3,938 kWh (1993)

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

Agriculture: accounts for 10% of GDP; principal crops - turnips, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat; livestock - meat and dairy products; 85% self-sufficient in food; food shortages include bread grain, fruits, vegetables

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for hashish from North Africa to the UK and Netherlands

Economic aid:
donor: ODA commitments (1980-89), $90 million

Currency: 1 Irish pound (#Ir) = 100 pence

Exchange rates: Irish pounds (#Ir) per US$1 - 0.6420 (January 1995), 0.6676 (1994), 0.6816 (1993), 0.5864 (1992), 0.6190 (1991), 0.6030 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 1,947 km
broad gauge: 1,947 km 1.600-m gauge (36 km electrified; 485 km double track)

total: 92,327 km
paved: 86,787 km (32 km of expressways)
unpaved: gravel, crushed stone 5,540 km (1992)

Inland waterways: limited for commercial traffic

Pipelines: natural gas 225 km

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

Merchant marine:
total: 47 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 129,996 GRT/160,419 DWT
ships by type: bulk 4, cargo 33, chemical tanker 2, container 2, oil tanker 1, short-sea passenger 3, specialized tanker 2

total: 44
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 2
with paved runways under 914 m: 32
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 4


Telephone system: 900,000 telephones; modern digital system using cable and microwave radio relay
local: NA
intercity: microwave radio relay
international: 1 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 9, FM 45, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 86
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

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

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 926,831; males fit for military service 749,646; males reach military age (17) annually 34,215 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $500 million, 1.3% of GDP (1994)