About IRELAND

Longitude  5.5˚ and 10.5˚ west
 Latitude  51.5˚ and 55.5˚ north
Total area  84,421 km2
 Ireland  70,282 km2
Northern Ireland  14,139 km2
Greatest length (N-S)  486 km
Greatest width (E-W)  275 km
Coastline  3,172 km
Highest mountain Carrantuohill  1,041m
Longest river Shannon  340 km
Largest lake Lough Neagh  396 km2
 Highest waterfall Powerscourt  122m

 



General History

Ireland’s location as an island to the west of continental Europe and close to Britain has, in large measure, shaped her history.


Ireland, which has been inhabited for about 7,000 years, has experienced many incursions and invasions, resulting in a rich mixture of ancestry and traditions. The first settlers, mostly hunters from Britain, brought with them a Mesolithic culture. They were followed around 3000 B.C. by farmers who raised animals and cultivated the soil. After these Neolithic settlers, around 2000 B.C., came prospectors and metalworkers.


By the Sixth Century B.C. waves of Celtic invaders from Europe began to reach the country. While Ireland was never unified politically by the Celts, they did generate a cultural and linguistic unity.

 

Towards Independence

In an increasingly militarised atmosphere, private paramilitary armies (the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Irish Volunteers) marched and drilled, and hostilities between the two were only averted by the outbreak of the First World War and the consequent postponement of Home Rule. The war changed everything: in 1916 a republic was declared in Dublin and an armed insurrection took place. This rising, which initially enjoyed little public support, was suppressed but its supporters, capitalising on public revulsion at the execution of its leaders, and on opposition to the introduction of military conscription to Ireland in the First World War, were successful in the General Election of 1918, when they swept aside the Irish Parliamentary Party who had campaigned for Home Rule.


Sinn Féin (‘Ourselves’), the election victors, set up the first Dáil (Parliament) and a war of national independence ensued. By the time an Anglo-Irish Treaty was concluded in 1921, six counties in North-East Ulster, with a roughly two-thirds Unionist majority at that time, had already been constituted as Northern Ireland. As a result of the Treaty, the remaining twenty-six counties formed the Irish Free State, which had dominion status within the British Empire. The establishment of the Free State was followed by a short civil war between those who accepted the Treaty as offering effective self-government and those who held out for a full republic. Despite its brevity (from June 1922 – May 1923), the Civil War was to colour attitudes and determine political allegiances for decades.


The first government of the new State was headed by W.T. Cosgrave of Cumann na nGaedheal, later the Fine Gael party. From the 1930s onwards the Fianna Fáil party, founded by Eamon de Valera, dominated Irish politics.
In the first two decades after Ireland achieved independence in 1922, the institutions of the State were consolidated and a tradition of political stability was established. The Constitution of 1937 and the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 severed Ireland’s last formal links with Britain. Ireland remained neutral during the Second World War.


Ireland was admitted to the United Nations (UN) in 1955, and joined what is now the European Union (EU) in 1973. New economic development policies led to substantial and rapid growth. As elsewhere in Europe coalition governments have become quite common and have normally involved one of the two larger political parties.

 

Climate

Influenced by the Gulf Stream, and with the prevailing south-westerly winds coming from the Atlantic, the climate of Ireland is temperate and temperatures are fairly uniform over the whole country.


The coldest months are January and February which have mean daily air temperatures of between 4˚C and 7˚C while July and August are the warmest, with mean temperatures of between 14˚C and 16˚C. Extremes of air temperature, below -10˚C or above 30˚C, are extremely rare. May and June are the sunniest months, averaging five to seven hours sunshine per day.
In low-lying areas average annual rainfall is mostly between 800mm and 1200mm but in mountainous areas it may exceed 2000mm. Rainfall is normally well distributed throughout the year but about 60% of the total falls between August and January.

 

Population

Ireland has been inhabited since the Stone Age. People moved westwards across the European continent for more than seven thousand years and settled in the country. Each new group of immigrants, Celts, Vikings, Normans, English, has contributed to its present population. The major centres of population are Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. Sixty per cent of the population live in cities and towns of 1,000 people or more. A high proportion of the population is concentrated in the younger age groups.


The present population is over 4.2 million, the highest on record since 1861. As a consequence of Ireland’s improved economic performance there has been a significant increase in net migration in recent years. It is estimated that over 10% of the current population are migrants, of which, the majority have come from the twelve most recent Member States to accede to the European Union (since 1 May 2004).  In addition, there has been significant ‘reverse emigration’ of Irish immigrants returning to live in Ireland since the mid-1990s.  


An specific example of this migratory pattern can be seen in the twelve months leading up to the last census day in 2006. In this period, 121,700 persons immigrated into Ireland: of these, 55,000 were Irish born with the highest numbers of non-nationals being from Poland (33,400) the UK (22,600) and Lithuania (7,400).

 

The economy:

 

Corporation Tax

Since 2003 Ireland’s corporate tax regime has been fixed at a rate of 12.5%. This applies to all Irish corporate trading profits.  A rate of 25% applies to non-trading (passive) income.  Existing overseas operations, which were eligible for a 10% rate, will retain entitlement to this rate until the end of the year 2010.   

Ireland and the Euro

The ease with which Ireland qualified for membership of the Euro in 1999 underlined the dramatic improvement in the country’s economy and public finances.  Membership of the euro was embraced by Ireland’s internationally oriented business community, which viewed it as a logical step in the further integration of European markets and as a boost to Ireland’s credibility as a location for internationally mobile investment. 

 

inward and Outward Investment

Inward investment has been critically important to Ireland’s economic development, providing tens of thousands of jobs, disseminating technological know-how and expertise within the wider economy, linking up with indigenous industry, boosting productivity, and underpinning export growth.  Outward investment by Irish companies has increased noticeably in recent years, albeit from a very low historic base. This emerging trend is consistent with the pattern observed in other economies as they move to higher stages of economic development. 

 

Education and Training

Education and Training is a vital component of Ireland’s knowledge-based economy, and is a priority investment under the National Development Plan.  Ireland enjoys one of the best education systems in the world, with approximately 1 million people in full time education.

 

Innovation and R&D

R+D in Ireland has expanded dramatically in recent years reflecting the Irish government’s massive injection of funding into the sector. Leading global companies have found Ireland to be an excellent location for knowledge-based activities. The young Irish workforce has shown a particular aptitude for the efficient collection, interpretation and dissemination of research information.

 

Trade

Ireland’s total trade in 2009 was approximately €128bn; with a trade surplus of more than €38 billion. This consists equally of merchandise trade and services trade each of which stand at €144bn. the main merchandise goods traded include organic chemicals (mainly for the pharmaceutical sector), medical & pharmaceutical products and computers. The main services areas are computer services and trade related business services, insurance and financial services.


Ireland’s main trade partners are the United States, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands.

 

Industry and Services

The Industrial sector has a highly skilled technological labour pool. Within this high technology grouping, the most active sectors currently are life sciences, medical and information technology sectors. 


The service sector in Ireland accounts for over half of GDP and for 65 per cent of employment. Throughout the last decade output of services has grown strongly, largely as a result of growth in financial services, telecommunications and tourism.
Three agencies deal with industrial development in Ireland. Forfás provides overall policy advice and co-ordination for enterprise development and science, technology and innovation in Ireland. Enterprise Ireland helps develop Irish-based enterprise with the potential to trade internationally. IDA Ireland, has responsibility for securing new investment in manufacturing and internationally traded services. It also has responsibility to encourage existing Foreign Direct Investors to expand and develop their businesses in Ireland.


There are also a number of regional development agencies such as Shannon Development which was set up in 1959 to promote Shannon International Airport and Údarás na Gaeltachta, which is the regional authority responsible for the economic, social and cultural development of the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking parts of the country).

 

Financial Services 

Dublin's International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), which was set up by the Irish Government with EU approval in 1987, is globally recognised as a leading location for a range of internationally traded financial services, including banking, asset financing, fund management, corporate treasury management, investment management, custody and administration and specialized insurance operations. More than 430 international operations are approved to trade in the IFSC, while a further 700 managed entities are approved to carry on business under the IFSC programme. 


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