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Native name: Éire / Ireland
Nickname: The Emerald Isle / The Island of Saints and Scholars
Location Northern Europe or Western Europe[1]
Area 84,421 km2 (32,595.1 sq mi)[2]
Area rank 20th
Coastline 2,797 km (1,738 mi)
Highest elevation 1,041 m (3,415 ft)
Highest point Carrauntoohil
Largest city Dublin
Region Northern Ireland
Largest city Belfast
Population 6,197,100[3] (as of 2008)
Density 73.4 /km2 (190.1 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Irish, Ulster Scots, Irish Travellers[Note 1]
Index of Economic Freedom 78.7 (rank: 7)[4]
Corruption Perceptions Index 8.0 (rank: 14)[5]
Doing Business ranking 9[6]
Additional information
Official website

Celtic tribes arrived on the island between 600-150 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 United Kingdom for 26 southern counties; six northern (Ulster) counties remained part of the UK. In 1949, 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 is gradually being implemented despite some difficulties. In 2006, the Irish and British governments developed and began to implement the St. Andrews Agreement, building on the Good Friday Agreement approved in 1998.[7]

Housing bubble and financial crisis

In the Irish property bubble, around 2006 more than a fifth of the Irish workforce was employed building houses. The Irish construction industry had swollen to become nearly a quarter of the country’s G.D.P.—compared with less than 10 percent in a normal economy—and Ireland was building half as many new houses a year as the United Kingdom, which had almost 15 times as many people to house. Since 1994 the average price for a Dublin home had risen more than 500 percent. In parts of the city, rents had fallen to less than 1 percent of the purchase price—that is, you could rent a million-dollar home for less than $833 a month. The investment returns on Irish land were ridiculously low: it made no sense for capital to flow into Ireland to develop more of it. Irish home prices implied an economic growth rate that would leave Ireland, in 25 years, three times as rich as the United States. By 2007, Irish banks were lending 40 percent more to property developers than they had to the entire Irish population seven years earlier. Morgan Kelly, a professor of economics at University College Dublin, predicted the Irish real-estate prices could fell relative to income—by 40 to 50 per cent, and they did.

Many of housing developments are called "ghost estates" because they’re empty. According to the audit of Ireland’s Department of the Environment published in October, 2010, of the nearly 180,000 units that had been granted planning permission, only 78,195 were completed and occupied. Others are occupied but remain unfinished. Virtually all construction has ceased. There were never enough people in Ireland to fill the new houses.[8]

Economical characteristics

  • Currency: Euro (ISO code: EUR)
  • Central bank discount rate: 3% (31 December 2008)[7]
  • Commercial banks lending rate: 6.76% (31 December 2008)[7]
  • is part of the Eurozone

Notable events:


Statistic / Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
GDP (million USD)[11] 96 421 96 596 104 688 122 520 157 384 184 970 201 676 222 414 260 871 267 576
Govt. debt (% of GDP)[12] 49.367 40.125 36.785 34.741 33.607 32.024 31.830 27.868 27.176
Govt. revenue (% of GDP)[13] 32.370 32.369 30.685 29.505 29.916 31.202 32.458 33.957 33.071
Govt. expenses (% of GDP)[14] 30.558 27.789 29.337 29.608 29.750 29.985 30.538 30.657 31.989
Debt to revenue (years) 1.525 1.240 1.199 1.177 1.123 1.026 0.981 0.821 0.822


Note: statistical data was rounded. Different sources may use different methodologies for their estimates. Debt to revenue is calculated by dividing the two variables from their original ('unrounded') values. It represents how long it would a government take to repay its entire debt if it used its whole revenue for this purpose.

  1. "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency (USA). 2009-11-27. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  2. Nolan, William. "Geography of Ireland". Government of Ireland. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  3. The 2008 population of the Republic of Ireland was estimated to be 4,422,100 and that of Northern Ireland was estimated to be 1,775,000. The 2009 estimate for the Republic of Ireland is 4,459,300 persons. An official 2009 estimate for Northern Ireland has not yet been prepared. These estimates from the official governmental statistics agencies in the respective jurisdictions:
  4. Heritage Foundation. "Ireland", Economic Freedom score & world rank. A higher score, and lower ranking is better; but please be careful when comparing between different countries or years. Referenced 2011-05-07.
  5. Transparency International. "Ireland", Corruption Perceptions Index 2010. A higher score, and lower ranking is better; but please note that different methodology may be used between countries and in different years. Referenced 2011-05-07.
  6. Doing Business. "Ireland", Doing Business 2011 (part of The World Bank Group). A lower ranking is better; but please be careful when comparing between different countries or years. Referenced 2011-05-07.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 CIA - The World Factbook. "Ireland", from The World Factbook. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  8. Michael Lewis. "When Irish Eyes Are Crying", Vanity Fair, March 2011 issue. Referenced 2011-02-15.
  9. Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff. "This Time is Different", Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-14216-6, p. 368. (The list does not claim to be complete.) Referenced 2011-07-20.
  10. Carmen M. Reinhart. "This Time is Different Chartbook: Country Histories on Debt, Default, and Financial Crises" (pdf), March 3, 2010, p. 64. (The list does not claim to be complete.) Referenced 2011-07-20.
  11. World Bank. "Ireland: GDP", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  12. World Bank. "Ireland: government debt", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  13. World Bank. "Ireland: government revenue", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  14. World Bank. "Ireland: government expenses", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  1. Irish Travellers are an officially recognised ethnic group in Northern Ireland under the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order, 1997. In the Republic of Ireland they are classed as a "social group". Census forms in both jurisdictions contain tick-boxes for respondents to describes themselves as being an Irish Traveller. For more information see: