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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Ireland

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Ireland
Definition Field Listing
Celtic tribes settled on the island in the 4th century B.C. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian BORU defeated the Danes in 1014. English invasions began in the 12th century and set off more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish struggle marked by fierce rebellions and harsh repressions. A failed 1916 Easter Monday Rebellion touched off several years of guerrilla warfare that in 1921 resulted in independence from the UK for 26 southern counties; six northern (Ulster) counties remained part of the United Kingdom. In 1948 Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth; it joined the European Community in 1973. Irish governments have sought the peaceful unification of Ireland and have cooperated with Britain against terrorist groups. A peace settlement for Northern Ireland, known as the Good Friday Agreement and approved in 1998, is currently being implemented.
   Geography    Ireland
Definition Field Listing
Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
53 00 N, 8 00 W
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
total: 70,280 sq km
water: 1,390 sq km
land: 68,890 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly larger than West Virginia
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 360 km
border countries: UK 360 km
Definition Field Listing
1,448 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
Definition Field Listing
temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time
Definition Field Listing
mostly level to rolling interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains; sea cliffs on west coast
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Carrauntoohil 1,041 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
zinc, lead, natural gas, barite, copper, gypsum, limestone, dolomite, peat, silver
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 19.49%
permanent crops: 0.04%
other: 80.47% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
water pollution, especially of lakes, from agricultural runoff
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Endangered Species, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
strategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe; over 40% of the population resides within 97 km of Dublin
   People    Ireland
Definition Field Listing
3,883,159 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 21.3% (male 425,366; female 403,268)
15-64 years: 67.3% (male 1,307,469; female 1,305,038)
65 years and over: 11.4% (male 191,927; female 250,091) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.07% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
14.62 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
8.01 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
4.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing
5.43 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 77.17 years
female: 80.12 years (2002 est.)
male: 74.41 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.9 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.1% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
2,200 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
less than 100 (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Irishman(men), Irishwoman(women), Irish (collective plural)
adjective: Irish
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Celtic, English
Definition Field Listing
Roman Catholic 91.6%, Church of Ireland 2.5%, other 5.9% (1998)
Definition Field Listing
English is the language generally used, Irish (Gaelic) spoken mainly in areas located along the western seaboard
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98% (1981 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%
   Government    Ireland
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Ireland
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
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
note: Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan are part of Ulster Province
Definition Field Listing
6 December 1921 (from UK by treaty)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March
Definition Field Listing
29 December 1937; adopted 1 July 1937 by plebiscite
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
based on English common law, substantially modified by indigenous concepts; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
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
election results: Mary MCALEESE elected president; percent of vote - Mary MCALEESE 44.8%, Mary BANOTTI 29.6%
note: government coalition - Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 31 October 1997 (next to be held NA November 2004); prime minister nominated by the House of Representatives and appointed by the president
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
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 popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Fianna Fail 30, Fine Gael 15, Labor Party 5, Progressive Democrats 4, independents and others 6; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Fianna Fail 41.5%, Fine Gael 22.5%, Labor Party 10.8%, Sinn Fein 6.5%, Progressive Democrats 4.0%, Green Party 3.8%, others 10.9%; seats by party - Fianna Fail 81, Fine Gael 31, Labor Party 21, Progressive Democrats 8, Green Party 6, Sinn Fein 5, others 14
elections: Senate - last held 16 and 17 July 2002 (next to be held NA July 2007); House of Representatives - last held 17 May 2002 (next to be held NA May 2007)
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
Supreme Court (judges appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister and cabinet)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Fianna Fail [Bertie AHERN]; Fine Gael [Enda KENNY]; Green Party [Trevor SARGENT]; Labor Party [Pat RABBITTE]; Progressive Democrats [Mary HARNEY]; Sinn Fein [Gerry ADAMS]; Socialist Party [Joe HIGGINS]; The Workers' Party [Tom FRENCH]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Noel FAHEY
chancery: 2234 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 232-5993
telephone: [1] (202) 462-3939
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Richard J. EGAN
embassy: 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [353] (1) 668-7122/668-8777
FAX: [353] (1) 668-9946
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
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
   Economy    Ireland
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy with growth averaging a robust 8% in 1995-2002. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts for 45% 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, construction, and business investment. Over the past decade, the Irish government has implemented a series of national economic programs designed to curb inflation, reduce government spending, increase labor force skills, and promote foreign investment. Ireland joined in launching the euro currency system in January 1999 along with 10 other EU nations. The economy felt the impact of the global economic slowdown in 2001-02, particularly in the high-tech export sector; the growth rate was cut by half.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $111.3 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
3.9% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $28,500 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 4%
industry: 36%
services: 60% (2001)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
10% (1997 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 27% (1997)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
36 (1987)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
4.6% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
1.8 million (2001)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
services 64%, industry 28%, agriculture 8% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
4.7% (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $34 billion
expenditures: $27 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001)
Definition Field Listing
food products, brewing, textiles, clothing; chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, transportation equipment, glass and crystal; software
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
6% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
22.285 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 95%
hydro: 4%
other: 1% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
20.823 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
71 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
169 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
turnips, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat; beef, dairy products
Definition Field Listing
$85.3 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; live animals, animal products
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
EU 62.8% (UK 19.8%, Germany 11.3%, France 7.7%, Netherlands 5.6%, Belgium 4.8%), US 17.1% (2000)
Definition Field Listing
$48.3 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals; petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
EU 61.4% (UK 33.4%, Germany 5.9%, France 4.5%, Netherlands 3.5%), US 16.2%, Japan 4% (2000)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$11 billion (1998) (1998)
Economic aid - donor:
Definition Field Listing
ODA, $283 million (2001)
Definition Field Listing
euro (EUR); Irish pound (IEP)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
euros per US dollar - 1.1324 (January 2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999); Irish pounds per US dollar - 0.7014 (1998), 0.6588 (1997)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Ireland
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
1.6 million (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
3 million (2002)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: modern digital system using cable and microwave radio relay
domestic: microwave radio relay
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 9, FM 106, shortwave 0 (1998)
Definition Field Listing
2.55 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
4 (many low-power repeaters) (2001)
Definition Field Listing
1.82 million (2001)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
22 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
1.31 million (2002)
   Transportation    Ireland
Definition Field Listing
total: 3,314 km
broad gauge: 1,949 km 1.600-m gauge (38 km electrified; 485 km double-tracked)
narrow gauge: 1,365 km 0.914-m gauge (operated by the Irish Peat Board to transport peat to power stations and briqueting plants) (2001)
Definition Field Listing
total: 92,500 km
paved: 87,043 km (including 115 km of expressways)
unpaved: 5,457 km (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
700 km (limited facilities for commercial traffic) (1998)
Definition Field Listing
natural gas 7,592 km (transmission 1,158 km; distribution 6,434 km) (2000)
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Arklow, Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, Foynes, Galway, Limerick, New Ross, Waterford
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 26 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 110,741 GRT/127,342 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Germany 2 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 4, cargo 20, container 1, short-sea passenger 1
Definition Field Listing
41 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 16
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 6 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 20
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 17 (2002)
   Military    Ireland
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Army (including Naval Service and Air Corps), National Police (Garda Siochana)
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
17 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 1,013,739 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 816,744 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 32,287 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$700 million (FY00/01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
0.9% (FY00/01)
   Transnational Issues    Ireland
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
disputes with Iceland, Denmark, and the UK over the Faroe Islands continental shelf boundary outside 200 NM
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
transshipment point for and consumer of hashish from North Africa to the UK and Netherlands and of European-produced synthetic drugs; minor transshipment point for heroin and cocaine destined for Western Europe

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

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