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Europe :: Ireland
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Ireland
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Ireland
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Map of Ireland
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of Ireland
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Introduction ::Ireland
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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.
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Geography ::Ireland
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Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain
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53 00 N, 8 00 W
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total: 70,273 sq km
country comparison to the world: 119
land: 68,883 sq km
water: 1,390 sq km
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slightly larger than West Virginia
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total: 360 km
border countries: UK 360 km
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1,448 km
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territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
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temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time
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mostly level to rolling interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains; sea cliffs on west coast
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lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Carrauntoohil 1,041 m
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natural gas, peat, copper, lead, zinc, silver, barite, gypsum, limestone, dolomite
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arable land: 16.82%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 83.15% (2005)
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NA
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46.8 cu km (2003)
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total: 1.18 cu km/yr (23%/77%/0%)
per capita: 284 cu m/yr (1994)
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NA
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water pollution, especially of lakes, from agricultural runoff
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party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Marine Life Conservation
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strategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe; over 40% of the population resides within 100 km of Dublin
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People ::Ireland
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4,203,200 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
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0-14 years: 20.9% (male 454,571/female 424,022)
15-64 years: 67.1% (male 1,411,336/female 1,409,760)
65 years and over: 12% (male 224,850/female 278,661) (2009 est.)
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total: 35 years
male: 34.2 years
female: 35.7 years (2009 est.)
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1.12% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
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14.23 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
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7.75 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
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4.71 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 22
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urban population: 61% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
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total: 5.05 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 188
male: 5.53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.54 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
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total population: 78.24 years
country comparison to the world: 47
male: 75.6 years
female: 81.06 years (2009 est.)
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1.85 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
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0.2% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
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5,500 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
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fewer than 100 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
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noun: Irishman(men), Irishwoman(women), Irish (collective plural)
adjective: Irish
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Irish 87.4%, other white 7.5%, Asian 1.3%, black 1.1%, mixed 1.1%, unspecified 1.6% (2006 census)
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Roman Catholic 87.4%, Church of Ireland 2.9%, other Christian 1.9%, other 2.1%, unspecified 1.5%, none 4.2% (2006 census)
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English (official) is the language generally used, Irish (Gaelic or Gaeilge) (official) spoken mainly in areas along the western coast
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
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total: 18 years
male: 17 years
female: 18 years (2006)
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4.7% of GDP (2005)
country comparison to the world: 81
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Government ::Ireland
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conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Ireland
local long form: none
local short form: Eire
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republic, parliamentary democracy
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name: Dublin
geographic coordinates: 53 19 N, 6 14 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
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29 counties and 5 cities*; Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Cork*, Donegal, Dublin*, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Galway, Galway*, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Limerick*, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, North Tipperary, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, South Dublin, South Tipperary, Waterford, Waterford*, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow
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6 December 1921 (from the UK by treaty)
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Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March
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adopted 1 July 1937 by plebiscite; effective 29 December 1937
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based on English common law substantially modified by indigenous concepts; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
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18 years of age; universal
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chief of state: President Mary MCALEESE (since 11 November 1997)
head of government: Prime Minister Brian COWEN (since 7 May 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with previous nomination by the prime minister and approval of the House of Representatives
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 31 October 1997 (next scheduled for October 2011); note - Mary MCALEESE appointed to a second term when no other candidate qualified for the 2004 presidential election; prime minister (taoiseach) nominated by the House of Representatives and appointed by the president
election results: Mary MCALEESE elected president; percent of vote - Mary MCALEESE 44.8%, Mary BANOTTI 29.6%
note: government coalition - Fianna Fail, the Green Party, the Progressive Democrats (disbanding), and independent members of Parliament
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bicameral Parliament or Oireachtas consists of the Senate or Seanad Eireann (60 seats; 49 members elected by the universities and from candidates put forward by five vocational panels, 11 are nominated by the prime minister; members serve five-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Dail Eireann (166 seats; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held in July 2007 (next to be held by July 2012); House of Representatives - last held 24 May 2007 (next to be held by May 2012)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Fianna Fail 28, Fine Gael 14, Labor Party 6, Progressive Democrats 2, Green Party 2, Sein Fein 1, independents 7; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Fianna Fail 41.6%, Fine Gael 27.3%, Labor Party 10.1%, Sinn Fein 6.9%, Green Party 4.7%, Progressive Democrats 2.7%, other 6.7%; seats by party - Fianna Fail 78, Fine Gael 51, Labor Party 20, Sinn Fein 4, Green Party 6, Progressive Democrats 2, independents 4, Speaker of the Dail 1
note: on 8 November 2008, delegates voted to disband the party, but as of January 2009, the party was still operating
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Supreme Court (judges appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister and cabinet)
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Fianna Fail [Brian COWEN]; Fine Gael [Enda KENNY]; Green Party [John GORMLEY]; Labor Party [Eamon GILMORE]; Progressive Democrats [Ciaran CANNON] (disbanding); Sinn Fein [Gerry ADAMS]; Socialist Party [Joe HIGGINS]; The Workers' Party [Mick FINNEGAN]
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Families Acting for Innocent Relatives or FAIR [Brian McCONNELL] (seek compensation for victims of violence); Families Against Intimidation and Terror or FAIT (oppose terrorism); Gaeltacht Civil Rights Campaign (Coiste Cearta Sibhialta na Gaeilge) or CCSG (encourages the use of the Irish language and campaigns for greater civil rights in Irish speaking areas); Irish Republican Army or IRA (terrorist group); Keep Ireland Open (environmental group); Midland Railway Action Group or MRAG [Willie ALLEN] (transportation promoters); Rail Users Ireland (formerly the Platform 11 - transportation promoters); 32 Country Sovereignty Movement or 32CSM (supports a fully sovereign Ireland); Ulster Defence Association or UDA (terrorist group)
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ADB (nonregional member), Australia Group, BIS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURSO, MONUC, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WEU (observer), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
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chief of mission: Ambassador Michael COLLINS
chancery: 2234 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 462-3939
FAX: [1] (202) 232-5993
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco
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chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel ROONEY; note - has not yet presented his credentials to Ireland
embassy: 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [353] (1) 668-8777
FAX: [353] (1) 668-9946
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three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and orange; similar to the flag of Cote d'Ivoire, which is shorter and has the colors reversed - orange (hoist side), white, and green; also similar to the flag of Italy, which is shorter and has colors of green (hoist side), white, and red
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Economy ::Ireland
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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.
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$188.4 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
$194.3 billion (2007 est.)
$183.3 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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$273.3 billion (2008 est.)
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-3% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214
6% (2007 est.)
5.4% (2006 est.)
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$45,300 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
$47,300 (2007 est.)
$45,100 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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agriculture: 5%
industry: 46%
services: 49% (2002 est.)
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2.241 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
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agriculture: 6%
industry: 27%
services: 67% (2006 est.)
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6.1% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
4.6% (2007 est.)
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7% (2005 est.)
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lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 27.2% (2000)
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32 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 101
35.9 (1987)
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21.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
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revenues: $92.57 billion
expenditures: $109.9 billion (2008 est.)
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41.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
31.2% of GDP (2004 est.)
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4.1% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
4.9% (2007 est.)
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3% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 96
5% (31 December 2007)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area
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NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 125
6.52% (31 December 2007)
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$NA
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 16 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders
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$NA
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$501.2 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 21
$545.2 billion (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 42
$144 billion (31 December 2007)
$163.4 billion (31 December 2006)
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turnips, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat; beef, dairy products
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steel, lead, zinc, silver, aluminum, barite, and gypsum mining processing; food products, brewing, textiles, clothing; chemicals, pharmaceuticals; machinery, rail transportation equipment; glass and crystal; software, tourism
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5% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
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26.06 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
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25.12 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
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303 million kWh (2008 est.)
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753 million kWh (2008 est.)
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0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
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188,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
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22,710 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
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190,800 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
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0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178
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438 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
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5.217 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
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0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 186
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4.798 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
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9.911 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
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$-12.32 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
$-14.12 billion (2007 est.)
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$119.6 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
$115.5 billion (2007 est.)
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machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; live animals, animal products
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UK 18.6%, US 18.3%, Belgium 14.7%, Germany 7%, France 5.9%, Spain 4.2% (2008)
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$80.94 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
$84.76 billion (2007 est.)
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data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing
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UK 37.9%, US 11.6%, Germany 8.8%, Netherlands 5.6% (2008)
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$1.023 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126
$926.2 million (31 December 2007 est.)
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$2.312 trillion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 8
$2.263 trillion (31 December 2007)
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$179 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
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$152.9 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21
$139.6 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.6827 (2008 est.), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004)
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Communications ::Ireland
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2.202 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 56
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5.048 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 86
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general assessment: modern digital system using cable and microwave radio relay
domestic: system privatized but dominated by former state monopoly operator; increasing levels of broadband access
international: country code - 353; landing point for the Hibernia-Atlantic submarine cable with links to the US, Canada, and UK; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
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AM 9, FM 106, shortwave 0 (1998)
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4 (many repeaters); (projected digital broadcasting scheduled to be launched in 2009) (2008)
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.ie
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1.303 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 36
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2.83 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 61
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Transportation ::Ireland
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39 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 105
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total: 17
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 6 (2009)
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total: 22
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 20 (2009)
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gas 1,550 km (2008)
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total: 3,237 km
country comparison to the world: 53
broad gauge: 1,872 km 1.600-m gauge (37 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 1,365 km 0.914-m gauge (operated by the Irish Peat Board to transport peat to power stations and briquetting plants) (2008)
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total: 96,602 km
country comparison to the world: 46
paved: 96,602 km (includes 200 km of expressways) (2003)
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956 km (pleasure craft only) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 68
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total: 29
country comparison to the world: 85
by type: cargo 25, chemical tanker 2, container 1, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 2 (US 2)
registered in other countries: 21 (Bahamas 2, Bermuda 1, Bulgaria 1, Cyprus 3, Isle of Man 1, Marshall Islands 1, Netherlands 10, Slovakia 1, UK 1) (2008)
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Cork, Dublin, Shannon Foynes
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Military ::Ireland
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Irish Defense Forces (Oglaigh na h-Eireann): Army (includes Naval Service and Air Corps (Aer-Chor na h-Eireann)) (2009)
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17-25 years of age for male or female voluntary military service (17-27 years of age for the Naval Service); enlistees 16 years of age can be recruited for apprentice specialist positions; maximum obligation 12 years; 17-35 years of age for the Reserve Defense Forces; EU citizenship or 5-year residence in Ireland required (2008)
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males age 16-49: 1,024,635
females age 16-49: 1,024,276 (2008 est.)
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males age 16-49: 857,162
females age 16-49: 854,416 (2009 est.)
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male: 28,072
female: 26,400 (2009 est.)
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0.9% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
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Transnational Issues ::Ireland
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Ireland, Iceland, and the UK dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm
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transshipment point for and consumer of hashish from North Africa to the UK and Netherlands and of European-produced synthetic drugs; increasing consumption of South American cocaine; minor transshipment point for heroin and cocaine destined for Western Europe; despite recent legislation, narcotics-related money laundering - using bureaux de change, trusts, and shell companies involving the offshore financial community - remains a concern
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The online Factbook is updated bi-weekly. ISSN 1553-8133
For additional information on government leaders in selected foreign countries, go to World Leaders.