About Ireland

Ireland has a temperate oceanic climate meaning that it is mild with temperatures not much lower than -3 °C (26.6 °F) in winter and not much higher than 22 °C (72 °F) in summer.The Atlantic Ocean is the main force shaping Ireland's weather and there is a warming influence due to the Gulf Stream. It can be quite variable and differs from region to region, with the middle and east tending to be more extreme throughout the year compared to other parts of the country. Sunshine duration is highest in the south-east.Ireland rainfall patterns are highest in the winter and lowest during the early months of summer. Determined by the south-westerly Atlantic winds.

geographically the northwest, west and southwest of the country receives the most substantial rainfall; Dublin is the driest part of the country.The far-north and west of Ireland are two of the windiest regions in Europe with substantial potential for wind energy generation.The highest temperature recorded in Ireland was 33.3 °C (91.9 °F) on 26 June 1887 at Kilkenny Castle in Kilkenny while the lowest was -19.1 °C (-2.4 °F) on 16 January 1881 at Markree Castle, Sligo


Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. Ireland joined 11 other EU nations in circulating the euro on 1 January 2002. GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity dropped sharply in 2008-09 as GDP fell by 3% in 2008 and nearly 8% in 2009. 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 2007 than in any other developed economy. However, average home prices have fallen 50% from the 2007 peak. 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. In 2009, in an effort to stabilize the banking sector, the Irish Government announced the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), which will acquire property and development loans with a book value of more than $100 billion from Irish banks. Faced with a need to bring the budget deficit down under the 3% EMU limit by 2014, the Irish Government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009. In addition to across-the-board cuts in spending, the 2009 budget included wage reductions for all public servants.

4,203,200 (July 2010 est.)


Current Weather
temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time

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

Ireland is a constitutional republic with a parliamentary system of government. The President of Ireland serves as head of state, and is elected for a seven-year term and can be re-elected only once. The president is largely a figurehead, but is entrusted with certain constitutional powers and functions, aided by an advisory body, the Council of State. The Taoiseach (prime minister) is appointed by the president on his election by the lower house of the parliament. Most Taoisigh have been the leader of the political party which wins the most seats in the national elections. It has become normal for coalitions to form a government, and there has not been a single-party government since 1989.

The Oireachtas, which is a bicameral parliament, consists of the President of Ireland, Seanad Éireann (Senate), being the upper House, and Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives), being the lower House. The Seanad is composed of sixty members, with eleven nominated by the Taoiseach, six elected by two universities, and 43 elected by public representatives from panels of candidates established on a vocational basis. The Dáil has 166 members (Teachtaí Dála) elected to represent multi-seat constituencies under the system of proportional representation by means of the Single Transferable Vote. Under the constitution, parliamentary elections must be held at least every seven years, though a lower limit may be set by statute law. The current statutory maximum term is five years.

The Government is constitutionally limited to fifteen members. No more than two members of the Government can be selected from the Seanad, and the Taoiseach, Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) and Minister for Finance must be members of the Dáil. The current government consists of a coalition of two parties; Fianna Fáil under Taoiseach Brian Cowen and the Green Party under leader John Gormley, along with numerous independents. The last general election to the Dáil took place on 24 May 2007, after it was called by the Taoiseach on 29 April. The opposition parties in the current Dáil are Fine Gael under Enda Kenny, the Labour Party under Eamon Gilmore, and Sinn Féin led by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. A number of independent deputies also sit in Dáil Éireann.

The Minister for Health and Children has responsibility for setting overall policy with regard to the health service. Every individual resident in Ireland is entitled to receive health care through the public health care system, which is managed by the Health Service Executive and funded by general taxation. A person may be required to pay a subsidised fee for certain health care received; this depends on income, age, illness or disability. All maternity services are provided free of charge and children up to the age of 6 months .

Emergency care is provided at a cost of €100 for a visit to the Accident and Emergency department. Anyone holding a European Health Insurance Card are entitled to free maintenance and treatment in public beds in Health Service Executive and voluntary hospitals. Outpatient services are also provided for free. However the majority of patients on median incomes or above, are required to pay subsidised hospital charges. Private health insurance is available to the population for those who want to avail of it. Vhi Healthcare (government owned), Quinn Healthcare, and Aviva provide health insurance, among other services.

English and Irish are the official languages. They are compulsory in primary and secondary level schools recognised by the state. Some students may be exempt from the requirement to receive instruction in either language. English is the dominant language throughout the country. People in dominantly Irish-speaking communities, Gaeltacht regions, are limited to the low tens of thousands in isolated areas mostly on the western seaboard. Road signs are usually bilingual, except in Gaeltacht regions.

The legal status of place names has been the subject of controversy, with an order made in 2005 under the Official Languages Act changing the official name of certain locations from English back to Irish. Dingle had its name changed to An Daingean despite local opposition and a local plebiscite requesting that the name be changed to a bilingual version: Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis. Most public notices and print media are in English only. Most Government publications are available in both languages, and citizens have the right to deal with the state in Irish. Media in Irish exist on TV (TG4), radio (e.g. RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta), and in print (e.g. Foinse). According to the 2006 census, 1,656,790 people (39%) in Ireland regard themselves as competent in Irish; though no figures are available for English-speakers, it is thought to be almost 100%.

The Polish language is one of the most widely spoken languages in Ireland after English. There are 63,276 Poles resident in Ireland according to the 2006 census. Central and Eastern European languages, such as Polish, can be heard spoken on a day-to-day basis across Ireland. Other languages spoken in Ireland include Shelta, spoken by the Irish Traveller population and a dialect of Scots is spoken by some descendants of Scottish settlers in Ulster.

Most secondary school students choose one or two foreign languages to learn. Languages available for the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate include French, German, Italian and Spanish; Leaving Certificate students can also study Arabic, Japanese and Russian. Some schools also offer Ancient Greek, Hebrew Studies and Latin at second level.

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