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Éire (Irish)
Ireland (English)
Flag of ireland
Republic of Ireland coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Official language Irish , English
Capital Dublin ( ir.Baile Átha Cliath )
Form of government Parliamentary republic
Government system Parliamentary democracy
Head of state President
Michael D. Higgins
Head of government Prime Minister (Taoiseach)
Micheál Martin
surface 70,273 km²
population 4,761,865 (2016)
Population density 68 inhabitants per km²
Population development   + 0.51% (2015)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 382.8 billion ( 32nd )
  • $ 389.0 billion ( 50th )
  • $ 78,335 ( 5. )
  • $ 79,617 ( 5. )
Human Development Index   0.942 ( 3rd ) (2019)
currency Euro (EUR)
independence December 6, 1921
(from the United Kingdom )
National anthem Amhrán na bhFiann
National holiday March 17th ( St. Patrick's Day )
Time zone UTC ± 0
UTC + 1 (March to October)
License Plate IRL
ISO 3166 IE , IRL, 372
Internet TLD .ie
Telephone code +353
Österreich Belgien Bulgarien Republik Zypern Tschechien Deutschland Dänemark Dänemark Estland Spanien Finnland Frankreich Frankreich Vereinigtes Königreich Vereinigtes Königreich Griechenland Griechenland Ungarn Irland Italien Italien Italien Litauen Luxemburg Lettland Niederlande Polen Portugal Rumänien Schweden Slowenien Slowakei Island Montenegro Nordmazedonien Kroatien Türkei Türkei Malta Serbien Grönland Färöer Norwegen Norwegen Isle of Man Guernsey Jersey Andorra Monaco Schweiz Liechtenstein Vatikanstadt San Marino Albanien Kosovo Bosnien und Herzegowina Republik Moldau Weißrussland Russland Ukraine Autonome Republik Krim Kasachstan Abchasien Südossetien Georgien Aserbaidschan Aserbaidschan Armenien Iran Libanon Syrien Israel Jordanien Saudi-Arabien Irak Russland Tunesien Algerien MarokkoLocation of Ireland within the European Union
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Location of Ireland within the European Union
Vereinigtes Königreich Donegal Leitrim Sligo Mayo Galway Galway Roscommons Cavan Longford Monaghan Louth Westmeath Fingal Meath Dublin South Dublin Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Clare Limerick City and County Offaly Kildare Wicklow Tipperary Laois Carlow Wexford Waterford City and County Cork Kilkenny Tipperary Waterford City and County Limerick City and County Kerry CorkToday's administrative division of Ireland
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Today's administrative division of Ireland

Ireland ( [ˈɪʁlant] , official German name; Irish Éire [ ˈeːrʲə ] listen ? / I , English Ireland ) is an island nation in Western Europe . It comprises about five sixths of the island of the same name as well as a large number of smaller islands that are in front of it. The capital and largest city of Ireland is Dublin , located in the eastern part of the country. About a third of the 4.9 million inhabitants live in the metropolitan area of ​​Dublin. It borders Northern Ireland and thus the United Kingdom to the north . To the east is the Irish Sea , to the west and south the country is surrounded by the Atlantic . Ireland has been a member of the European Union since 1973 . The majority of the population professes the Roman Catholic faith . Audio file / audio sample

Long impoverished and therefore affected by emigration , Ireland has now transformed into a highly modern, in some areas multicultural industrial and service society . It has 10 million foreign tourists annually. In 2018, Ireland was the second richest country in Europe according to the gross domestic product per capita (adjusted for purchasing power) and the fifth richest in the world.


physical geography

In the interior of the island, there are mostly plains that are enclosed by hilly areas on the outside.

The Shannon River , which runs north to south, is the longest on the island at around 370 km. There are numerous lakes in the plains, which significantly shape the landscape. Lough Corrib is the largest lake in Ireland and the second largest on the Irish island after Lough Neagh , which is part of Northern Ireland.

The highest mountain is the Carrauntoohil with 1039 m (other names Carrantuohill , Carrantual , Carntuohil ). It is located in the southwest of the island in the Macgillicuddy's Reeks.

There are a number of national parks spread across the country .


In 2016, 63.5% of the population lived in cities or urban areas.

Largest cities in Ireland
(as per 2016 census)
rank Surname County or City Residents rank Surname County or City Residents
Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin 20150807 1.jpg
Dublin Cork

Cork City Hall - Anglesea Street - - 1405948.jpg
1 Dublin Dublin City 553.165 11 Tralee Kerry 20,869 Galway Harbor 2007.jpg
Galway Limerick

LimerickCity Riverpoint.jpg
2 Cork Cork City 125,622 12 Ennis Clare 20,475
3 Galway Galway City 79.504 13 Wexford Wexford 20,167
4th limerick limerick 58,319 14th Sligo Sligo 17,355
5 Waterford Waterford 48,369 15th Letterkenny Donegal 16,017
6th Dundalk Louth 32,288 16 Athlone Westmeath and Roscommon 15,686
7th Drogheda Louth 29,471 17th Leixlip Kildare 15,400
8th Navan Meath 28,399 18th Carlow Carlow 14,473
9 Bray Wicklow 27,760 19th Clonmel Tipperary (South) 14,257
10 Naas Kildare 21,493 20th Killarney Kerry 14,017


Ireland's population pyramid 2016

The population of Ireland fell dramatically in the mid-19th century. Harvest failures, famine and reprisals from British rule reduced the population from around 6.5 million (including the population of the northern parts of the country, which also belong to the United Kingdom ) in 1841. When the Republic became independent in 1921, the population excluding the more densely populated Northern Ireland was approximately three million. Many Irish emigrated, especially to the United Kingdom and the USA. Independence from the United Kingdom from the beginning of the 1920s led to gradual improvements in living conditions, but the population continued to shrink, if not quite as much. The number of people of Irish descent abroad is estimated to be over 40 million, nearly ten times the number of Irish people today.

The low point was reached in the 1960s with around 2.82 million inhabitants. Since then the population has increased again and with around 4.5 million inhabitants (over six million including Northern Ireland) reached the level of the middle of the 19th century. The increase is primarily due to immigration, but also due to the birth surplus. Ireland's fertility rate is 1.9 children per woman and is one of the highest in Europe. The life expectancy was, according to the UN between 2010 and 2015 80.9 years (women 83.0 and men 78.7). The Irish median age of 36.4 years is one of the lowest in Europe. In 2017, 16.9 percent of the population were migrants. The most common countries of origin were the United Kingdom (280,000 people), Poland (140,000) and Lithuania (40,000).

The population speaks mostly English, although a (recurring) increase in the Celtic language Irish , which is also the original language of the Irish, is sought.

Country name

The officially used German name is Ireland . The official name is Irish Éire or English Ireland . The term Republic of Ireland is often used to distinguish it from Northern Ireland (Irish Poblacht na hÉireann , English Republic of Ireland ).

19th century poets and Irish nationalists used Erin as a romantic name for Ireland in English. It has often been Erin's Isle used. The female personification of Ireland also bears the name Erin (next to Hibernia ). Erin is the Hiberno-English derivation of the Irish word Éirinn . Éirinn is the dative of the Irish word for Ireland, Éire ; the dative is used with prepositions like "go hÉirinn" - "to Ireland", "in Éirinn" - "in Ireland" or "ó Éirinn" - "from Ireland".

National language

There are two official languages: English and Irish ; the latter is also called Irish Gaelic in German . As a living language , Irish is spoken by only a minority, especially in the so-called Gaeltacht .

Population development

Population development in millions of inhabitants
year population year population
1841 6,528,799 1946 2,955,107
1851 5,111,557 1951 2,960,593
1861 4,402,111 1961 2,818,341
1871 4,053,187 1971 2,978,248
1881 3,870,020 1981 3,443,405
1891 3,468,694 1991 3,525,719
1901 3,221,823 2002 3,917,203
1911 3,139,688 2011 4,588,252
1926 2,971,992 2016 4,761,865
1936 2,968,420


Religions in Ireland 2016
religion percent
Roman Catholic
Other Christian denomination
other religion
No religion
No information
Distribution of religions (2016 census)

In 2016, 78.3 percent of the population of Ireland were Roman Catholic and 2.7 percent belonged to the Anglican community . About 1.3 percent of the population were Muslim, and 9.8 percent said they did not belong to any religion. There are also smaller Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran churches. With 1591 members (2005), the Quakers are a comparatively small community, but it is the second largest in Europe after the United Kingdom. The Presbyterian Church is particularly deeply rooted among the descendants of the Scottish settlers . That is why it is most common in Northern Ireland.

According to a representative survey by the Worldwide Independent Network and the Gallup International Association , which was carried out between 2011 and 2012, ten percent of the Irish interviewed described themselves as "staunch atheists", 44 percent said they were "non-religious" and 47 percent said to be a religious person. Between 2005 and 2011/12, the proportion of Irish who describe themselves as religious fell by 22 percentage points (from 69 percent to 47 percent). According to a representative survey by the Eurobarometer , 73 percent of people in Ireland believed in God in 2005 , and another 22 percent believed in another spiritual force . Four percent of those questioned believed neither in a god nor in any other spiritual force, and one percent of those questioned were undecided.

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland consists of four ecclesiastical provinces with the archbishoprics of Armagh , Dublin , Tuam and Cashel and their suffragan dioceses . The Catholic Primate of all Ireland is the Archbishop of Armagh. The Anglican Church of Ireland is divided into the two ecclesiastical provinces of Armagh and Dublin and their dioceses. Armagh is also the seat of the Anglican Primate of All Ireland.


Ireland's education budget was around € 9.5 billion in 2017. The budget is expected to increase only slightly over the next few years. In order to provide the increasing number of students with sufficient teachers in the current and the coming years , around 2,400 additional teachers should be hired in 2017.

The Irish education system has three levels : primary school, secondary school and higher - “third level” - education.

The public primary schools, which are largely sponsored by the Catholic Church, are free of school fees. Private schools , the number of which has steadily increased in recent years, sometimes charge considerable school fees. However, the teachers employed there are paid by the Irish state. A government initiative to gradually separate schools from the sponsorship of the Catholic Church and to convert them into non-denominational or multi-denominational institutions is making slow progress. At the same time, there is growing public pressure from parents who have great difficulty in finding a school for children who have not been baptized Catholics within a reasonable distance.

The results of the central state final examination (“leaving certificate”) determine access to the state's universities. In 2015, 56,587 students took the final exam. Of these, 47,654 applied for study places. The sharp drop in performance in basic school skills identified by the OECD between 2000 and 2009 has now been halted. The last PISA study shows a slight upward trend for Ireland again. Ireland is in the middle compared to the European partner countries. The reason for this is the award of bonus points for mathematics and science subjects. In the 2015 PISA ranking, Ireland's students ranked 17th out of 72 countries in math, 19th in science and 5th in reading comprehension. Irish students were among the better among all participating countries.

A major reform of the Irish education system is one of the main goals of the government. To this end, the requirements for the “junior certificate” (secondary school qualification I) and the “leaving certificate” (secondary school qualification II) are to be changed. Another step in this direction is the reform of the university admissions system . A new point system for the allocation of study places has been set up. It is to be applied for the first time for the final year 2017. Incentives for schoolchildren who, when choosing a subject, decided to accumulate the required number of points in rather easier subjects, instead of following their inclinations and paying attention to professionally required qualifications, should be eliminated.

Traditionally, trade unions have had a considerable influence on the design and further development of the school system. The primary and secondary school teachers alone are organized in three, university professors and lecturers in two different unions. The reform of the “junior certificate” is rejected by a large teachers' union. The union members are boycotting the implementation of 2016. In particular, they oppose the new Irish approach that teachers should rate their own students on the exam.


Statue of St. Patrick on the hill of Tara

The history of Ireland begins with the settlement around 7000 BC. Celtic immigrants brought in around 300 BC. BC, at the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age , Celtic language and culture on the island.

During the Roman Empire , the island of Ireland was known as Hibernia . There have been a number of kingdoms and principalities in Ireland throughout history. The Christianization at the beginning of the 5th century by slaves from the Roman province of Britain up to around 410 , including today's national saint Patrick of Ireland , followed the first Irish heyday, in which countless monastery settlements (including the famous round towers ) arose; this was interrupted or ended from around 800 by the forays of the Vikings .

It was followed by the Norman conquest in 1169, which heralded the continued dominance of England over Ireland. Anglo-Normans confiscated the Irish land and drove them to the less fertile west of the island. From around 1600, Anglican and Presbyterian settlers from England and Scotland were settled by the English crown in the northeast of the island . This so-called plantation was the root of a centuries- old ethno-religious conflict, particularly severe and persistent in Northern Ireland , the main settlement area.

The policy of British landowners in Ireland, along with the potato blight, led to the famine of 1845–1849 . Up to 1.5 million Irish starved to death, and many emigrated to the United States . British authorities deliberately delayed measures to contain the famine. This plays an important role in the historical development of anti-British resentment . The allegations made by the Irish people range from irresponsible inaction to systematic genocide . This contentious historical debate comes to mixed conclusions. The argument that Ireland remained a net exporter of food throughout the entire famine and that no export ban was imposed in order to depress food prices in Ireland is particularly at the expense of the British colonial rulers. In addition, the penal laws , most of which were passed around 1700, are seen as a precondition for the development of the precarious situation of the Irish. These laws discriminating against the Catholic Irish population included: a .: The prohibition of the exercise of public office, the withholding of the right to vote , the denial of access to higher education, the prohibition of permanent acquisition or leasing of real estate and a restriction on the acquisition of assets.

A bloody civil war (1919–1921) led after the First World War towards political independence for a large part of the island; the Dominion status on December 6, 1921 granted greater domestic political independence and enabled the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 (predecessor of today's Republic of Ireland). However, six counties in the province of Ulster remained part of the United Kingdom after the agreement. The conflict, which had been latent since around 1600, continued because of the division and overshadowed Irish-British and inner-Irish politics until the 2000s ( Northern Ireland conflict ).

Even when Ireland ceded the Commonwealth on April 18, 1949 after more than three centuries of British rule , the six Northern Irish counties remained in the United Kingdom. However, since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and the Republic of Ireland's waiver of the demand for reunification with Northern Ireland, a clear easing of the tension has emerged. There is still the possibility of a unification of the two areas, but this can only be brought about by a majority decision of the Northern Irish population.


Political system

The Government Buildings in Dublin

In the 2019 Democracy Index, Ireland ranks 6th out of 167 countries, making it a “full democracy”.

On June 2, 1918, women's suffrage was introduced for women aged 30 and over; men were allowed to vote from 21 years of age. After the Irish War of Independence , the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State gave women the right to vote and stand for election on the same basis as men. This allowed women and men to vote using the same criteria.

The Prime Minister (Irish Taoiseach, pronounced [ tiːʃəx ]) is nominated by Parliament and appointed by the President . Usually he is the party leader of the strongest parliamentary party or the largest coalition party.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins Acting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (FG)
Irish President
Michael D. Higgins
Acting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar ( FG )

The Parliament (Oireachtas) consists of two chambers and the President: The Senate ( Seanad Éireann ) forms the upper house and the House of Representatives ( Dáil Éireann ) forms the lower house. The Senate consists of 60 members, eleven of whom are appointed by the Prime Minister and 49 are elected by various social groups (eleven agriculture and labor, nine industry and trade, seven public administration, six universities and five culture and education). These elections will take place within 90 days of the dissolution of the House of Representatives.

The House of Commons consists of 158 members, the number of members depending on the population of Ireland. There is one MP for every 20,000 to 30,000 inhabitants. The members of the House are on the communicable Einzelstimmgebung (Engl. Single Transferable Vote ) in 40 constituencies voted in which are each assigned three to five mandates on. Elections must take place within 30 days of the dissolution of the House of Representatives. The lower house is elected for a maximum of five years, but an earlier dissolution is possible.

The government (An Rialtas) consists of a maximum of 15 members. No more than two ministers may come from the Senate, the prime minister, the deputy prime minister and the finance minister must belong to the House of Representatives.

A selection of Irish parties :

With Pat Cox was an Irish President of the European Parliament from 2002 to 2004.

Phil Hogan has represented Ireland in the European Commission since 2014 , initially as Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development in the " Juncker Commission " and since 2019 as Commissioner for Trade in the von der Leyen Commission . His predecessor for the period from 2010 to 2014 was Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (Research, Innovation and Science), whose predecessors were Charlie McCreevy ( 2004-2009 ) and David Byrne ( 1999-2004 ).

Current policy

Dublin by night

On March 29, 2004, Ireland became the first EU country to introduce a total smoking ban in all public places. The ban does not apply to hotel rooms, prisons and psychiatric hospitals. With this decision, Ireland took a pioneering role in Europe. Around 400 official inspectors were hired to monitor compliance. In addition, fines of up to 3000 euros threaten. The Irish public has broadly supported and largely complied with the smoking ban.

In recent years, the outdated and ineffective health system has come under increasing focus due to public pressure.

The high number of road deaths due to a lack of western standards is also a major problem.

Attempts are also being made to remedy the large economic gap between the two major centers - Dublin and Cork - on the one hand and the Midlands or counties on the west coast on the other.

There is also a high proportion of relative poverty - at around 22%, the highest in Western Europe. There are also great social differences associated with this. Despite the economic boom, the situation of the lower class has deteriorated considerably. Jobs can almost only be found in the cities, so there is hardly any improvement in remote rural areas. The price increase for everyday products was considerable until around summer 2008. Then a banking crisis became visible in Ireland and other countries , which later spread to other countries, led to an economic crisis in 2009 and prompted many Western countries to massively increase their national debt. This led to the euro crisis and especially from autumn 2009 to the Greek sovereign debt crisis .

In the first half of 2013 Ireland held the presidency of the Council of the European Union for the seventh time (see also Irish EU Council Presidency 2013 ).

In May 2015, Ireland was the first country in the world to vote in a positive referendum about permission to enter into same-sex marriages .

Ireland currently has 14 ministries. The last parliamentary elections took place in February 2016 . The Fine Gael , which previously had a strong increase in votes in 2011, lost more than 10 percentage points, but remained just the strongest party with 25.5% and received 50 seats. The Fianna Fáil received 24.3% of the vote and 44 seats. Sinn Féin became the third strongest force with 13.8% and 23 seats. Independent candidates won 13 seats, smaller parties and groupings a total of 28 seats.

In a referendum held at the same time as the presidential election in 2018, the Irish voted 64.85% to remove the blasphemy clause from the constitution. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan , welcomed the decision as timely for a “modern, liberal society”.

Administrative division

Ireland consists of four historic provinces ( Connacht , Leinster , Munster , Ulster ), in turn, counties ( Counties are divided). The provinces are no longer important for the administration of the state, but still play a role in sports , for example .

The counties were formed as a result of the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland in the 12th century and, apart from a few subdivisions and mergers, essentially continue to exist as local administrative units.

In 1994 several counties were merged into a total of eight regions, the administration of which, however, only has the task of coordinating public services and distributing the money from the EU structural funds .


Officials of the Garda Síochána in Dublin

Garda Síochána na hÉireann , also Garda or Gardai for short , refers to the national police in the Republic of Ireland. The authority is subordinate to a Commissioner appointed by the Irish government, the headquarters are in Phoenix Park in Dublin. The most common short form in the sense of the collective “The Police” is Garda , as the individual policeman is called. The plural policemen = Gardaí is also often used as a collective term.

The Garda has existed since 1922, its approximately 9,000 uniformed members are usually unarmed, also to differentiate itself from its predecessor, the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). There are also around 1,700 uniformed Garda detectives equipped with handguns, who are responsible for personal protection and the heavily armed Emergency Response Unit . Ireland is divided into six police regions, including the Dublin Metropolitan Region, each headed by a Regional Assistant Commissioner.

There has been no municipal police force since the merger of the Dublin police with the Garda in 1925. The Airport Police at Dublin Airport, the Harbor Police and the Railway Police , which are on duty on the premises of train stations, are not classic police forces , but rather security services . Arrests are only made here by the Garda.


The Irish Defense Forces ( IDF , Irish: Óglaigh na hÉireann ) are the armed forces of the Republic of Ireland. They consist of the armed forces

  • Heer ( Irish Army , Irish: Arm na hÉireann ) with:
the Defense Forces Headquarters
1st Brigade in the "Collison Barracks" in Cork
2nd Brigade in the "Cathal Brugha Barracks" in Rathmines ( Dublin )
Defense Forces Training Center at "Curragh Camp" in County Kildare

The army consists of the following branches of service:

Communications and Services (CIS)
medical corps
military police
  • Navy ( Naval Service , Irish: Seirbhís Chabhlaigh na hÉireann )
  • Air Force ( Irish Air Corps , Irish: Aerchór na hÉireann ).

In 2006 almost 11,000 men and women served in the Irish Army, around 8,500 of them in the Army. The Navy has eight patrol ships. The main tasks of the air force consist of supporting the army and transporting people and materials. It does not have jet-powered fighter planes. In addition to the professional army, there is also the Reserve Defense Force , which consists of the Army Reserve (Irish: Cúltaca an Airm ) and the Naval Service Reserve ( NSR , Cúltaca na Seirbhíse Cabhlaigh ).

Ireland spent just under 0.4 percent of its economic output or $ 1.1 billion on its armed forces in 2017.

Foreign policy

Irish diplomatic missions locations

Ireland has been a member of the EU (European Union, then still EC) since 1973. Its foreign policy is shaped by a basic pro-European attitude, the advocacy of disarmament, the concerns of developing countries, human rights and a strong United Nations (member since 1955) determine the foreign policy guideline. Membership in the European Union has not only benefited Ireland economically. Progress in the Northern Ireland peace process is likely to have been boosted by Ireland's and the United Kingdom's joint EU membership at the time. Significant changes, for example in social legislation, can be traced back to EU membership. As a small country that did not gain independence from London until 1922, Ireland is concerned with maintaining its independence. Nonetheless, the UK was by far Ireland's closest partner within the EU as long as the UK was a member. The UK's exit from the EU after the Brexit vote on June 23, 2016 worries the Irish government from both an economic and a political perspective. The Irish government had spoken out in high-ranking and also publicly and clearly to the British public in favor of the United Kingdom remaining in the EU.

Relations with the USA are traditionally of particular importance (USA is the second most important trade and most important investment partner, over 40 million Americans indicate Irish ancestry); There is a close political and economic relationship. Traditionally, the Irish Prime Minister is invited to the White House by the US President on the Irish national holiday (St. Patrick's Day on March 17th).



Up until the 1990s, Ireland was an economically underdeveloped country compared to other EC countries . Investments in Ireland were made in particular from the USA in search of a location for exporting to the European economic area. There was also major immigration to Ireland, particularly from Eastern Europe. Ireland's inflation-adjusted GDP per capita rose to one of the highest levels in the EU. However, the GDP was artificially increased, e.g. For example, some companies' profits are only shifted to Ireland for accounting purposes and only ostensibly flow into the country. The reason for this is the low tax rates: the corporate tax used to be 10% and rose to 12.5%. This is still one of the lowest values ​​in the EU. The gross national income rose less sharply, but among other things, unemployment actually decreased (2000–2007 it was around five percent) and, thanks to the statutory minimum wage introduced in 2000, the monthly income of full-time adult employees is not less than 1183 euros. Ireland was often referred to as the " Celtic Tiger " because of its economic development .

Ireland is part of the European single market . Together with 18 other EU member states (blue) it forms a monetary union, the euro zone .

However, Ireland was hit particularly hard by the financial crisis from 2007 onwards , because the growing prosperity was also based on a real estate bubble that eventually "burst". In addition, the Irish economy is very dependent on FDI. The very lax regulation of the financial sector attracted many foreign banks, but Ireland's economy as a whole is heavily indebted abroad. The total of outstanding loans, derivatives and mortgage loans from Irish banks exceeds the gross domestic product nearly four times. With real estate prices now falling, many Irish households are over-indebted.

From the first quarter of 2008, Ireland was in recession for several years after its gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 1.3% in the first quarter of 2008 and by 0.8% in the second quarter; Overall, GDP fell by 1.7% in 2008 alone. The conservative Irish government under Brian Cowen decided to implement an austerity policy against the massive rise in national debt . In 2014 Ireland finally overcame the crisis. The gross domestic product grew by 5.2% in 2014 and by as much as 7.8% in 2015. Ireland has the sixth largest economic growth in the world and the largest economic growth in Europe.

The gross domestic product of Ireland was 214.6 billion euros in 2015. The gross domestic product per capita in the same year was 46,200 euros. In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Ireland ranks 24th out of 137 countries (2017-18). In 2017, the country ranks 9th out of 180 countries in the index for economic freedom . Ireland is one of the most liberal economies in the world.

The unemployment rate temporarily rose sharply in the last decade as a result of the financial crisis and recession: starting from around 8% at the end of 2008, it reached over 13% in 2010 and 14.7% in 2012, before rising over 7.8% (May 2016) fell to 5.1% by June 2018, which is below the EU average. In 2017, youth unemployment was 13.6%. In 2015, 5% of the workforce worked in agriculture, 11% in industry and 84% in the service sector. The total number of employees is estimated at 2.23 million for 2017; 44.9% of them are women.

According to a study by Bank Credit Suisse from 2017, Ireland ranked 32nd worldwide in terms of total national wealth . Total real estate, stocks, and cash holdings totaled $ 853 billion. Per adult it is 248,466 US dollars on average and 84,592 US dollars in the median (in Germany: 203,946 and 47,091 US dollars). In terms of average wealth, Ireland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Higher average assets than in Germany can mainly be explained by the larger proportion of property owners.

Overall, 41.5% of the total wealth of the population was financial wealth and 58.5% was non-financial wealth. The Gini coefficient for wealth distribution was 81.3 in 2017, which indicates high wealth inequality. The top 10% of the Irish population owned 65.8% of the property and the top 1% owned 33.1% of the property. A total of 33.1% of the population had personal net worth less than $ 10,000 and 3.6% had net worth more than $ 1 million. In mid-2018 there were 8 billionaires in Ireland.

Share of foreign companies

Foreign companies play a not insignificant role in Ireland's economic development. The share of foreign companies in Irish value added reached 23.8% in 1995. In the information and communication technology sector alone, exports exceeded € 21 billion in 2003 and thus accounted for 26% of exports. Many global companies that immigrated from 1989, such as B. IBM, Intel, Hewlett Packard, Symantec, Dell and Microsoft employed more than one percent of the population in 2003. In recent years, however, some of these companies have moved on again.

Fierce criticism of Irish corporate taxation practices ( “Double Irish” ) has led the government to decide to bring them into line with OECD and EU standards. Maintaining its corporate tax rate of 12.5% ​​remains a priority for Ireland, whose economy is export-oriented and dependent on foreign investors. The decision of the EU Commission in the Apple case on August 30, 2016 (Ireland granted the US multi-Apple Apple inadmissible tax breaks amounting to € 13 billion) built up new pressure.

The country is not a member of the Schengen area , mainly because of its open border with Northern Ireland .

Many European financial companies have installed a branch in Ireland in recent years. In 2007, the 35 largest banks in Ireland included a total of 15 branches of German banks. Thus, the Depfa Bank , a subsidiary of Hypo Real Estate, its headquarters in Ireland.

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures of 80.8 billion dollars. This contrasted with revenues of $ 78.1 billion. This results in a budget deficit of $ 2.7 billion or 0.9% of GDP .

In 2016, the national debt was 200.6 billion euros or 75.4% of GDP. Irish government bonds are rated A + by the rating agency Standard & Poor’s (as of December 2018).

Ireland, which due to the banking crisis had quadrupled its national debt from below 25% within four years by the end of 2010, applied for help from the EU rescue package . On November 28, 2010, the finance ministers of the euro zone agreed on an 85 billion euro aid package to be made available by the EU and the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) . Since then, the public finances have largely stabilized and Ireland has been able to reduce its national debt from 119.5% (2013) to 75.4% (2016) of economic output through savings and economic growth.

year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
National debt 26.1% 23.6% 23.9% 42.4% 61.7% 86.3% 109.6% 119.5% 119.5% 105.3% 78.7% 75.4%
Budget balance 1.6% 2.8% 0.3% −7.0% −13.8% −32.1% −12.6% −8.0% −5.7% −3.7% −2.0% −0.9%
Source: Eurostat

In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was as follows:


Development of long-term interest rates on Irish government bonds compared to other countries (2010-2011)

Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real Eurostat

The Irish economy recovered from a slump during the financial crisis. The unusually high economic growth of 25.6% in 2015 is due to a change in the statistical recording of Ireland's gross domestic product.

year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Change in% yoy 5.5 5.2 −3.9 −4.6 1.8 3.9 0.0 1.6 8.3 25.6 5.1

Development of GDP (nominal), Eurostat

absolute (in billion euros) per inhabitant (in thousands of euros)
year 2014 2015 2016 year 2014 2015 2016
GDP in billions of euros 194.5 262.0 275.5 GDP per inhabitant (in € thousand) 42.2 56.4 58.8

Foreign Trade Development (GTAI)

in billion euros and its change compared to the previous year in percent
2014 2015 2016
Billion euros % yoy Billion euros % yoy Billion euros % year-on-year
Exports 60.7 +11.8 69.0 +13.7 69.5 +0.7
Imports 91.8 +4.5 111.7 +21.7 116.4 +4.2
balance +31.8 +42.7 +46.9

Main trading partner of Ireland (2016), source: GTAI

Export (in percent) to Import (in percent) of
United StatesUnited States United States 26.2 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 29.3
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 12.8 United StatesUnited States United States 15.5
BelgiumBelgium Belgium 12.7 FranceFrance France 12.7
GermanyGermany Germany 6.7 GermanyGermany Germany 10.3
SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 5.5 NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 4.8
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 5.1 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 4.0
FranceFrance France 4.2 BelgiumBelgium Belgium 2.4
other countries 26.8 other countries 21.1


Ireland has a modern and efficient infrastructure. In 2016, Ireland was ranked 29th out of 160 countries in the Logistics Performance Index compiled by the World Bank .

Air traffic

The Dublin Airport is the largest airport in Ireland

Airlines registered in Ireland carried over 153 million people worldwide in 2017. By far the largest airline in the country is Ryanair , which is now the second largest airline in Europe.

Dublin Harbor

Ireland has international airports in Dublin , in County Donegal Carrick Finn, in County Kerry in Farranfore, in County Clare in Shannon and in Cork and Knock that of Austrian Airlines , the Lufthansa , Swiss , TUIfly and domestic airlines Aer Lingus and Ryanair fly become. After the elimination of state subsidies, Galway Airport has no longer served scheduled flights since October 2011. There is also a domestic airline, Stobart Air . There are also numerous local airports.

Rail transport

There is also a very thin rail network with a gauge of 1600 mm , which is being expanded. The most important railway company is the state-owned Iarnród Éireann .

Bus transport

Buses in Cork

Bus Éireann is the national bus company that offers a large number of connections. Similar to the American greyhound buses, numerous intercity buses connect the individual regions.

Local bus lines also run to more distant areas from the central stops, which are not always in the center of the cities approached. However, the timetables must be studied carefully, as some connections run very rarely, depending on the day of the week and the location of the respective town only once or twice a day.

Road system

Major roads in Ireland

In 2014, the entire asphalt road network covered around 96,036 km.

A car can be driven with an EU driving license , although it should be noted that in Ireland (as in neighboring Northern Ireland and on the British Isles ) there is left-hand traffic .

Due to the low population density, the roads in the republic are usually worse than on mainland Europe. Bicycle travel benefits from the low traffic density in the country. Roads are assigned to one of four classes in Ireland.

Motorway (abbreviation M)

A Motorway (Irish Mótarbhealach ) is roughly equivalent to a four-lane German Autobahn with a median and hard shoulders as hard shoulders. They run in a star shape from Greater Dublin to Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway and the Northern Ireland border at Dundalk (and on towards Belfast). The ring road that surrounds Dublin to the west is also classified as a Motorway (M50). All motorways are part of or form a National Road. The maximum speed on motorways is 120 km / h. Some sections of motorways, such as the M4, are subject to tolls; the toll is between 1.80 and 3 euros for cars and up to 1.40 euros for motorcycles (as of 08/2008). The signage for direction and distance information on motorways is in blue. Ireland has the lowest density of motorways in relation to its population in Western Europe.

National Road (abbreviation N)

National roads correspond in their function to the German federal highways. The maximum permissible speed is 100 km / h. A distinction is made between National primary roads - N1 to N11, which lead from Dublin in a fan shape into the country and N12 to N33, which connect the larger cities with each other - and National secondary roads (with numbers higher than 50). Many of the national primary roads are now good, some of them have been developed with four lanes, or at least have a wide shoulder. Some of the better developed routes correspond to the specification of the motorways, but are not (yet) classified as such in order to enable use of slower traffic such as agricultural machinery. National secondary roads often only correspond in their standard to regional roads or are little better. The signage for direction and distance information on National Roads is green.

Regional Road (abbreviation R)

Regional roads are subordinate rural roads in some cases without marking lines. Since they lead through rural areas in particular, they are often crossed or walked on by sheep, cows, horses or wild animals. Maximum speed on regional roads is 80 km / h. The signs for directions on country roads are black and white and are often inadequate. Locations are found in some rural areas of Ireland, especially in Gaeltachten , mostly in Irish .

Local Road (abbreviation L) and other roads

Local roads are small connecting roads or paths between small towns that do not necessarily have to be paved ("country roads"). They are often bordered by walls or high hedges and are very narrow, mostly single-lane and with direct oncoming traffic. A maximum permissible speed of 80 km / h generally applies here as well.

Occasionally, especially in rural areas, you can still find old road signs with the outdated type designations “T” (for “trunk road”, largely corresponds to the current National Road) and “L” (for “link road”, corresponds to) the current Regional Road).

Repair work

Since the late 1990s, the Irish government has been expanding the road network through investment programs worth billions of euros. Since then, a large part of the road network has been continuously repaired. However, it is not asphalt or concrete that is used, but mostly chippings , which are gradually pressed into a softer bituminous subsoil as the road is used. Irish roads appear rough and uneven as a result.

Conversion to the metric system of measurement in road traffic

At the beginning of 2005 the Republic of Ireland switched from the Anglo-American measurement system to the metric system , since then speeds are measured in km / h instead of mph and distances in kilometers and no longer in miles . However, the distance is still given in miles on many older traffic signs, with the unit of measurement missing. The abbreviation km is on the new signs. Even old speedometers in motor vehicles still show mph instead of km / h.

Border control

There are no border controls between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland . For this reason, the Republic of Ireland has not yet joined the Schengen area , as this could only be done together with the United Kingdom, given the open border with Northern Ireland .


Limerick University Faculty of Medicine building

Most of the cultural life takes place in the few large centers ( Dublin , Cork , Galway and Limerick ). Life outside of these cities (including in the Midlands ) in the very sparsely populated country is tranquil and largely characterized by agriculture and fishing . Nevertheless, there is in some cases an increased development of tourism , especially in the region around the River Shannon .

The arts are promoted primarily through the Arts Council, a government appointed body responsible for developing, promoting and promoting Irish art. For 2016, he had 60.1 million euros in government funds. This increased the art budget slightly compared to the previous year, but it remains far below the budget of 83 million euros that was available to him in 2007 and thus before the economic crisis. In addition, there are funds for funding film projects. The government hopes to be able to set up international film studios in Ireland. In 2016, the commemoration celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916 received special funding .



Traditional session in a pub in Clare

Irish music is best known for its typical instruments such as the fiddle (violin), whose playing is characterized by the wild Irish style, the flute, especially the tin whistle , and the harp , which is the oldest Irish instrument. For a long time instrumental and vocal music were separate; only in the 18th century were both brought together. Although folk music has lost popularity in many countries, especially among the youth, traditional Irish music continues to be popular.

A special element of Irish music is dancing. Tap dance , set dance and formation dance are very popular in Ireland and have a long tradition.

With seven wins, Ireland is the most successful country in the Eurovision Song Contest , followed by Sweden with six wins (as of 2019).


In addition to ballads , in which extensive poetry is combined with music, two short forms of poetry created in Ireland are known far beyond the country's borders, the Limerick and the Irish Blessing .


Ireland has produced a large number of eminent writers, including Nobel Prize winners William Butler Yeats , George Bernard Shaw , Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney . Other well-known Irish writers include Jonathan Swift , Oscar Wilde , James Joyce , Brian O'Nolan and Bram Stoker .


The longroom of the Trinity College library

The first public library in the country was the Dublin Marsh's Library, built in 1701 by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh (1638–1713), it is also one of the oldest in the British Isles. In 1947, the Library Council An Chomhairle Leabharlanna was established with the Public Library Act . This revolutionized the library system and the Leabharlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann fulfills the function of a national library . An Chomhairle Leabharlanna , initially founded to ensure the supply and development of library services, was given additional responsibilities in 2001. These tasks are essentially to advise and help the main libraries to prepare recommendations and reports for the ministries and to support and facilitate cooperation between the public and academic libraries. In addition, An Chomhairle Leabharlanna is integrated into many activities and programs that the libraries promote. (For comparison: in Germany there is neither a library law nor - since the closure of the German Library Institute (DBI) in 2000 - a central advisory and development agency)

There are 32 main libraries in Ireland. Of these, 27 are borne by the counties and four by the cities of Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford . A library lies between two counties and is therefore supported by both. The strategies and methods of the libraries vary from city to city because the main libraries act independently of each other.

In addition to the 32 main libraries, there are a further 345 branch libraries. This also includes libraries in hospitals, schools, prisons and so-called communication centers. The 29 mobile libraries are also included here, which supply remote or poorly populated areas with books and other media.

The offerings of the libraries generally include non-fiction and fiction, services and programs for children and young people, reference media, information on further education and general, local information. In addition, public access to the Internet is offered in every library. All main libraries also offer Opacs in the library, which are available to users. This means that all libraries have an electronic management system. Some catalogs are also available on the Internet.

There are approximately 12.5 million items of media in public libraries. This includes books, manuscripts, pictures, loose-leaf collections, CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, cassettes, videos and much more. In contrast to Germany, Irish public libraries have fewer loans per inhabitant. In Germany there are 4.1 media units per inhabitant, in Ireland 3.4. The public libraries are still used by around 21% of the population. In 2002 there were 809,158 readers with a library card.

However, the Irish libraries have higher material costs than German libraries. Ireland spends € 2.10 per inhabitant and Germany € 1.10 per inhabitant.

The libraries are mainly financed through taxes. About ten percent are financed through membership fees, user fees and fines. In addition, the Department of the Environment and Local Government has supported the libraries since 1998 with € 34 million, which is used for the construction and rental of buildings. But the automation of work processes and inventory building is also supported with this money.

Media and telecommunications

In Ireland radio and print media play a comparatively large role. The reporting is largely free of government and church influences. Reporters Without Borders ranked Ireland 15th on the press freedom list in 2019 . National topics or topics from English-speaking countries dominate. Internationally interested Irish people in particular often use the UK media.

Radio According to the national radio station RTÉ , 83% of the Irish population listen to the radio every day. The largest and semi-state broadcaster RTÉ offers three English-language and one Irish-language programs. In addition, the private broadcasters Newstalk 106 and Today FM offer a national radio program. There are numerous local radio stations.

Television In addition to the state broadcasters RTÉ One , RTÉ Two and TG4 (Irish-speaking) there are several private Irish broadcasters, the largest of which is Virgin Media One . In addition, British channels are seen a lot, v. a. BBC Northern Ireland.

Newspapers According to the Irish Newspapers Association, 83% of the 4.6 million Irish people read newspapers regularly. According to the Irish Independent's Audit Bureau of Circulations, the major political daily newspapers had a circulation of 102,537, the Irish Times 72,011 printed copies and 9,875 in the digital version and the Herald 40,847 copies. The rainbow press is dominated by the Irish Daily Star (50% owned by the media company Independent News & Media and the other 50% owned by the media company Northern & Shell , the publisher of the Daily Star in the United Kingdom ) with 46,524 copies and the Irish Sun (subsidiary of UK Sun ) with 59,813 copies. The weekly newspapers Sunday Independent with 199,210 and Sunday World with 162,938 copies are remarkable. The Irish Times is the only Irish newspaper to have a Germany correspondent and regularly pays attention to current developments in Germany.

Internet and social media 81.0% of the population used the Internet in 2016. The young median age in Ireland of 35 is also reflected in social media use. 60% of the population are members of Facebook , 72% of whom are active on a daily basis. 26% of the Irish use Twitter , 35% of them daily.

Irish renaissance


The most popular sports in Ireland are the two traditional ball sports, Gaelic football and hurling . Both Gaelic Football and Hurling are purely amateur sports under the jurisdiction of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The games for the annual All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship attract many fans to the largest stadiums in the country. The venue for the finals of these two championships is Croke Park in Dublin, which is also the headquarters of the GAA. In addition to these two county selection team competitions, there are also club-level competitions. The atmosphere at the games is mostly peaceful. Despite the great rivalry between the individual counties, riots are the exception. For a long time, only hurling and Gaelic football were allowed in public, mostly Catholic schools.

Almost as popular as the aforementioned Irish national sports are rugby and football , known as "English" . The national rugby team is one of the top teams in the world. It takes part in the four-yearly world championships and in the annual six-nation tournament of the best teams in Europe. The special thing about the Irish national team is that it has represented the entire island and thus both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland since it was founded in 1874. The selections of the four Irish provinces of Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht play in the Celtic League , the highest professional league with teams from Ireland, Wales and Scotland. There are also national Irish championships. The national stadium is the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. There are also international matches at Ravenhill Stadium in Belfast.

The excitement for football was fueled when Jack Charlton became head of the Irish national football team in the early 1980s. Since football was still underdeveloped in Ireland at the time, Charlton's first act was to hire a genealogist to help him look for football professionals with Irish roots in England to join the Irish national team. The team surprisingly reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Italy in 1990 and also qualified for the 1994 World Cup in the USA, the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, the 2012 European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, and the 2016 European Championship in France. The national football league is called the League of Ireland . It consists of two performance classes and is played in semi-professional mode. The Premier League consists of twelve clubs, the First Division of ten. The league is organized by the FAI, the Irish Football Association.

In the north-west of the country, road bowling , a form of bowling or kloot shooting , is practiced as a popular sport. This was probably brought to Ireland by Dutch soldiers in 1689, from where it diffused on to Scotland.

See also

Portal: Ireland  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Ireland


  • The Encyclopaedia of Ireland. ed. by Brian Lalor. Gill & Macmillan, Dublin 2003, ISBN 0-7171-3000-2 .
  • Rolf Breuer: Ireland: An Introduction to Its History, Literature and Culture. Fink, Munich 2007, ISBN 3-8252-2406-6 .
  • Richard Killeen: A Brief History of Ireland. Land, people, history . Running Press, 2012, ISBN 0-7624-3990-4 .
  • Michael Richter : Ireland in the Middle Ages. Culture and history. Lit, Münster 2003, ISBN 3-8258-6437-5 .
  • Wolfgang Ziegler: Ireland: Discovery trips to the art sites of the "Green Island", art, culture and landscape. DuMont Verlag, Cologne 1974, ISBN 3-7701-0735-7 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Ireland  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Ireland  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Ireland  geographical and historical maps
Wikisource: Ireland  - Sources and full texts
Wikivoyage: Ireland  - Travel Guide

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Coordinates: 53 °  N , 8 °  W