|Anthem: Amhrán na bhFiann
The Soldier's Song
(and largest city)
|Official language(s)||Irish, English|
|Ethnic groups||87% Irish, 13% Other|
|-||Taoiseach||Brian Cowen TD|
|-||Tánaiste||Mary Coughlan TD|
|-||Upper House||Seanad Éireann|
|-||Lower House||Dáil Éireann|
|Independence||from the United Kingdom|
|-||Declared||24 April 1916|
|-||Ratified||21 January 1919|
|-||Recognised||6 December 1922|
|-||Constitution||29 December 1937|
|-||Became a Republic||18 April 1949|
|EU accession||1 January 1973|
|-||Total||70,273 km2 (119th)
27,133 sq mi
|-||2010 estimate||4,470,700  (120th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2009 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2009 estimate|
|-||Total||$227.781 billion (38)|
0.895 (very high) (5th)
|Currency||Euro (€) (
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|-||Summer (DST)||IST (WEST) (UTC+1)|
|Drives on the||left|
|a. ^ Article 4 of the Constitution of Ireland and Section 2 of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 – the constitutional name of the state is Ireland; the supplementary legal description is the Republic of Ireland, but is deprecated by the state.
b. ^ The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.
Ireland (, locally ; Irish: Éire, ), described as the Republic of Ireland (Irish: Poblacht na hÉireann), is a state in Western Europe of almost 4.5 million inhabitants. It is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional republic encompassing approximately five-sixths of the island of Ireland, which was partitioned into two jurisdictions in 1921. The country shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea to the east, St George's Channel to the southeast, and the Celtic Sea to the south.
At the conclusion of the Irish War of Independence, the Anglo-Irish Treaty established the Irish Free State on 6 December 1922 as a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth. It gained increasing sovereignty through the Statute of Westminster and the abdication crisis of 1936. A new constitution introduced in 1937 declared it an entirely sovereign state named Ireland. The last formal link with the United Kingdom was severed in 1949 when the Oireachtas (national parliament) passed the Republic of Ireland Act, which proclaimed Ireland a republic by discarding the remaining duties of the monarch. Ireland seceded from the British Commonwealth, having discontinued attending meetings in 1937. Britain officially recognised the new republic through the Ireland Act 1949.
During British rule and initial independence, Ireland was one of Western Europe's most impoverished countries and suffered high levels of emigration. However, in contrast to many other states during that period, it remained democratic and financially solvent. The protectionist economy was opened in the late 1950s and Ireland joined what is now called the European Union in 1973. An economic crisis led to large-scale economic reforms in the late 1980s, as the Irish Government reduced taxation and regulation dramatically compared to other EU countries. The rapid growth of the economy experienced during the 1990s saw the beginning of unprecedented economic expansion in the phenomenon known as the "Celtic Tiger", which lasted until the global financial crisis of 2007–2010.
Ireland is one of the world's most developed countries, and is ranked fifth in the Human Development Index, first in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index, and sixth on the Global Peace Index. It is also ranked first for press freedom and fourth for economic freedom. Ireland also has high rankings for its education system, political freedom and democracy. It is one of the most sustainable countries in the world, ranking fifth from bottom in the Failed States Index. Ireland is a member of the OECD, the WTO, and the UN.
The official name of the country is Ireland for documents written in English and Éire for documents written in Irish. EU institutions follow the same practice, as the names of EU member states must be written and abbreviated according to the Interinstitutional Style Guide, and neither "Republic of Ireland" nor "Irish Republic" should be used when referring to the country. Since Irish became an official language of the Union in 2007, name plates for the state at EU meetings read as Éire – Ireland, as used on Irish passports. Article 4 of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland states that "The name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland." The wording of this article has been criticised in a report by the Constitution Review Group in 1996, stating that the wording was "unnecessarily complicated and that it should be simplified". An amendment was recommended to state that, "The name of the state is Ireland", with an equivalent change in the Irish text. The Constitution Review Group also considered whether the article should be amended to include "Republic of" in the name. It is satisfied that the legislative provision declaring the state's description to be the "Republic of Ireland" is sufficient.
The Republic of Ireland Act 1948 described the state as the "Republic of Ireland" (Poblacht na hÉireann), and declared Ireland a republic by transferring the last official functions of the British monarch to an elected president. No change of name took place as a result of that act, nor could it, as the name of the state is enshrined in the Constitution, and would require a referendum to change. In 1989 the Irish Supreme Court rejected an extradition warrant that used the name Republic of Ireland. Justice Walsh ruled that, "if the courts of other countries seeking the assistance of this country are unwilling to give this State its constitutionally correct and internationally recognised name, then in my view, the warrants should be returned to such countries until they have been rectified."
The island of Ireland was unilaterally proclaimed an independent republic by rebels in 1916 and called the Irish Republic (Poblacht na hÉireann). Following the 1918 general election, that proclamation was ratified by the First Dáil. Between 1921 and 1922, the British government legislated to establish Ireland as an autonomous region of the United Kingdom, creating Southern Ireland (and Northern Ireland). Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the state was established as an independent dominion in the British Commonwealth, styled the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann). All of these names are still sometimes used unofficially. Other colloquial names, such the twenty-six counties and the South are also often used, particularly among residents of Northern Ireland. Likewise, from the perspective of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland is often called the six counties or the North.
From the Act of Union on 1 January 1801 until 6 December 1922, all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. During the Great Famine, from 1845 to 1849, the island's population of over 8 million fell by 30%. One million Irish died of starvation and/or disease and another 1.5 million emigrated. This set the pattern of emigration for the century to come, resulting in a constant decline up to the 1960s.
From 1874, particularly under Charles Stewart Parnell from 1880, the Irish Parliamentary Party moved to prominence through widespread agrarian agitation, via the Irish Land League, that won improved tenant land reforms in the form of the Irish Land Acts, and with its attempts to achieve Home Rule, via two unsuccessful Bills which would have granted Ireland limited national autonomy. These led to the “grass-roots” control of national affairs under the Local Government Act 1898 previously in the hands of landlord-dominated grand juries of the Protestant Ascendancy.
Home Rule seemed certain when the Parliament Act 1911 abolished the veto of the House of Lords, and John Redmond secured the Third Home Rule Act 1914. However, the Unionist movement had been growing since 1886 among Irish Protestants after the introduction of the first home rule bill, fearing discrimination and loss of economic and social privileges if Irish Catholics achieved real political power. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century unionism was particularly strong in parts of Ulster, where industrialisation was more common in contrast to the more agrarian rest of the island. It was feared that any tariff barriers would heavily affect that region. In addition, the Protestant population was more prominent in Ulster, with a majority in four counties. Under the leadership of the Dublin-born Sir Edward Carson of the Irish Unionist Party and the northerner Sir James Craig of the Ulster Unionist Party, unionists became strongly militant in order to oppose the Coercion of Ulster. After the Home Rule Bill passed parliament in May 1914, to avoid rebellion with Ulster, the British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith introduced an Amending Bill reluctantly conceded to by the Irish Party leadership. This provided for the temporary exclusion of Ulster from the workings of the bill for a trial period of six years, with an as yet undecided new set of measures to be introduced for the area to be temporarily excluded.