|Anthem||Amhrán na bhFiann (The Soldier’s Song)
Watch on youtube (with lyrics in video description)
|Area||70,273 km2, 27,133 sq mi|
|Population||~ 4.5 million|
Ireland, also described as the Republic of Ireland, is a state in northwest Europe. It is bordered to the northeast by Northern Ireland, which is a 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.
Ireland consists of 29 administrative counties and five cities. The five cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Waterford areadministered separately. The capital city and at the same time the largest city of Ireland is Dublin with a population of 1,045,769 people.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE
Notable cultural divides exist between urban Irish and rural Irish, between the Catholic and Protestant people of Northern Ireland, between the Irish-speaking people and the English-speaking majority population.
As of April 2010, Ireland’s estimated population was 4,470,700. The country’s population increased significantly in recent years, due to immigration. In addition, the birth rate in Ireland is currently over double the death rate, which is highly unusual among Western European countries. Approximately 10% of Ireland’s population are foreign citizens. The largest group of immigrants comes from the United Kingdom, followed by Poland, Lithuania, Nigeria and Latvia.
English and Irish are the official languages of Ireland, with English being the dominantone. According to the 2006 census, 39% of the population regard themselves as competent in Irish. Road signs are usually bilingual. Most public notices and print media are in English only. Most Government publications are available in both languages. The Polish language is one of the most widely spoken languages in Ireland after English and Irish.
Ireland’s constitution provides for freedom of religion. Christianity is the country’s predominant religion, with the largest church being the Roman Catholic Church and the second largest being the Church of Ireland. In 2006, 86.8% of the population identified themselves as Roman Catholic, 4.4% described themselves as having no religion, and 1.7% did not respond to the question. According to a study, the country has one of the Western World’s highest rates of regular Mass attendance. Other significant Protestant denominations are the Presbyterian Church, followed by the Methodist Church.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Ireland is a constitutional republic with a parliamentary system of government. The President of Ireland serves as head of state, and is elected for a seven-year term and can be re-elected only once. The current president is Mary Patricia McAleese. The Oireachtas, which is a bicameral parliament, consists of the President of Ireland, Seanad Éireann (Senate), being the Upper House, and Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives), being the Lower House.
Ireland is one of the world’s most developed countries. In 2006 it had the sixth highest nominal GDP per capita. Therefore Ireland is ranked as one of the wealthiest countries in the OECD. Industry, which accounts for 46% of GDP and about 80% of exports, has replaced agriculture as the country’s leading economic sector. Exports play an important role in Ireland’s economic growth. The country now ranks as the seventh largest producer of zinc concentrates in the world, and the twelfth largest producer of lead concentrates.