|General background: A failed 1916 Easter Monday
Rebellion touched off several years of guerrilla warfare
that in 1921 resulted in independence from the UK for
the 26 southern counties; the six northern counties
(Ulster) remained part of Great Britain. 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.
Area comparative: Slightly larger than West
Climate: Temperate maritime;
modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool
summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the
Terrain: Mostly level to rolling
interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains;
sea cliffs on west coast
Population: 3,883,159 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Celtic, English
Religions: Roman Catholic 91.6%, Church of
Ireland 2.5%, other 5.9% (1998)
Language: English is the language generally
used, Irish (Gaelic) spoken mainly in areas located
along the western seaboard.
Government type: Republic
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.
Economic overview: Ireland is a small, modern,
trade-dependent economy with growth averaging a robust
9% in 1995-2001. Agriculture, once the most important
sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts
for 38% 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.
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, particularly in the high-tech export sector;
the growth rate was cut by nearly half. Growth in
2002 is expected to fall in the 3%-5% range.
Communication/Telephone system: Modern digital
system using cable and microwave radio relay.
Places of interest: The Wax Museum and Phoenix
Park in Dublin.
Travel tips: Be sure to bring the raincoats.