Ireland - Your Guide to A New Beginning

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Physical features

The island of Ireland is situated in the extreme north-west of Europe.
Area: 70,282 km2 [Northern Ireland: 14,139 km2].


Influenced by the Gulf Stream and with the prevailing winds predominantly from the south-west, the climate is equable and temperatures are fairly uniform over the whole country. The coldest months are January and February with average daily air temperatures of between 4°C and 7°C, while July and August are the warmest (14°C to 16°C). Extremes of air temperature, below -10°C or above 30°C, are extremely rare.
In low-lying areas average annual rainfall is mostly between 800 and 1200mm but ranges from less than 750mm in some eastern areas to 1500mm in parts of the west. In mountainous areas annual rainfall may exceed 2000mm.


4.6 million
For more information please contact Central Statistics Office Ireland;  


English is recognised as the second official language but is the language of the workplace outside of Gaeltacht areas where Irish continues to be spoken.


The Irish Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion to all citizens.


In December 1921 an Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed and 26 counties gained independence as the Irish Free State. Six Ulster counties had been granted their own parliament in Belfast in 1920 and remained within the United Kingdom.
A new constitution was introduced in 1937 and Ireland remained neutral during the Second World War. In 1949 the Irish Republic was established. Ireland was admitted to the UN in 1955 and acceded to the European Economic Community in 1973, together with the United Kingdom and Denmark.


As an international trading economy, with a small domestic market, Ireland is heavily dependent on foreign trade. Regularly cited as one of the most open markets in the world, and rating highly in globalisation indexes. Over the 1996-2007 period, Irish GNP increased at a rapid rate averaging 7% growth per year making it the fastest growing economy in the EU. However, there was a dramatic turnaround in 2008 and the Irish economy officially entered into a recession in the first half of the year

In the first half of 2015, six years on from the start of the recession, the Irish economy grew by an astonishing 7% - in volume terms. Economic growth has surpassed expectations again in 2015 with the likelihood now being that the economy will grow by above 7%, its fastest rate in 15 years. In addition, employment, incomes and tax returns are all well ahead of expectations.

CSO figures (Central Statistics Office) for Q3 2015 showed employment growth of 2.9% annually, providing the best measure of the positive momentum in the domestic economy. Employment is now likely to reach 2 million, for the first time since early 2009 over the coming months. Encouragingly employment growth in Q3 came in 12 of 14 sectors, with strong annual increases in construction (+14,900) and industry (+13,500) reducing damaging long-term unemployment to its lowest level since 2009. With the continuing recovery in the labour market, the unemployment rate had fallen to 8.8% by December 2015 and down from 10.2% in December 2014.

Last modified:10/02/2016