COUNTRIES

IRELAND

Programs Offered

Limerick: University of Limerick

A few facts about the country:

OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Ireland

GOVERNMENT TYPE: Republic, Parliamentary Democracy

CHIEF OF STATE: President Mary MCALEESE (since 11 November 1997)

POPULATION: 4,203,200 (July 2009 est.)

LOCATION: Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain

TERRAIN AND CLIMATE: The Terrain is mostly level to rolling interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains; sea cliffs on west coast. The climate is a temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: English & Gaelic

GENERAL HISTORY: 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 UK 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.

ECONOMY: Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity dropped sharply in 2008 and Ireland entered into a recession for the first time in more than a decade with the onset of the world financial crisis and subsequent severe slowdown in the property and construction markets. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. Although the export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, remains a key component of Ireland's economy, construction most recently fueled economic growth along with strong consumer spending and business investment. Property prices rose more rapidly in Ireland in the decade up to 2006 than in any other developed world economy. Per capita GDP also surged during Ireland's high-growth years, and in 2007 surpassed that of the United States. The Irish Government has implemented a series of national economic programs designed to curb price and wage inflation, invest in infrastructure, increase labor force skills, and promote foreign investment. In 2008 the COWEN government moved to guarantee all bank deposits, recapitalize the banking system, and establish partly-public venture capital funds in response to the country's economic downturn. Ireland joined in circulating the euro on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU nations.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Ireland remains largely free of terrorist incidents. While the 1998 ceasefire in Northern Ireland is holding, there have been incidents of violence in Northern Ireland associated with paramilitary organizations. These have the potential for some spillover into Ireland. Travelers to Northern Ireland should consult the Country Specific Information sheet for the United Kingdom and Gibraltar.