Celtic tribes arrived on the island between 600 and 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. Norman invasions began in the 12th century and set off more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish struggle marked by fierce rebellions and harsh repressions. The Irish famine of the mid-19th century saw the population of the island drop by one third through starvation and emigration. For more than a century after that the population of the island continued to fall only to begin growing again in the 1960s. Over the last 50 years, Ireland's high birthrate has made it demographically one of the youngest populations in the EU. The modern Irish state traces its origins to the failed 1916 Easter Monday Uprising that touched off several years of guerrilla warfare resulting in independence from the UK in 1921 for 26 southern counties; six northern (Ulster) counties remained part of the UK. Unresolved issues in Northern Ireland erupted into years of violence known as the "Troubles" that began in the 1960s. The Government of Ireland was part of a process along with the UK and US Governments that helped broker what is known as The Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland in 1998. This initiated a new phase of cooperation between the Irish and British Governments. Ireland was neutral in World War II and continues its policy of military neutrality. Ireland joined the European Community in 1973 and the euro-zone currency union in 1999. The economic boom years of the Celtic Tiger (1995-2007) saw rapid economic growth, which came to an abrupt end in 2008 with the meltdown of the Irish banking system. Today the economy is recovering, fueled by large and growing foreign direct investment, especially from US multi-nationals.
Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain
natural gas, peat, copper, lead, zinc, silver, barite, gypsum, limestone, dolomite
Population - distribution
population distribution is weighted to the eastern side of the island, with the largest concentration being in and around Dublin; populations in the west are small due to mountainous land, poorer soil, lack of good transport routes, and fewer job opportunities
English (official, the language generally used), Irish (Gaelic or Gaeilge) (official, spoken by approximately 38.7% of the population as a first or second language in 2011; mainly spoken in areas along the western coast)
DUBLIN (capital) 1.169 million (2015)
- Conventional long form
- Conventional short form
- Local long form
- Local short form
- 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
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. Ireland was among the initial group of 12 EU nations that began circulating the euro on 1 January 2002. GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity dropped sharply during the world financial crisis and the subsequent collapse of its domestic property market and construction industry. Faced with sharply reduced revenues and a burgeoning budget deficit from efforts to stabilize its fragile banking sector, the Irish Government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009. These measures were not sufficient to stabilize Ireland’s public finances. In 2010, the budget deficit reached 32.4% of GDP - the world's largest deficit, as a percentage of GDP. In late 2010, the former COWEN government agreed to a $92 billion loan package from the EU and IMF to help Dublin recapitalize Ireland’s banking sector and avoid defaulting on its sovereign debt. In March 2011, the KENNY government intensified austerity measures to meet the deficit targets under Ireland's EU-IMF bailout program.
- Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
- Real Interest Rate
- Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
- Current Account Balance
- US$ 14,348,515,241
- Labor Force, Total
- Employment in Agriculture
- Employment in Industry
- Employment in Services
- Unemployment Rate
- Imports of goods and services
- US$ 284,456,866,829
- Exports of goods and services
- US$ 352,659,968,781
- Total Merchandise Trade
- FDI, net inflows
- US$ 79,163,353,503
- Commercial Service Exports
- US$ 146,134,542,194
barley, potatoes, wheat; beef, dairy products
pharmaceuticals, chemicals, computer hardware and software, food products, beverages and brewing; medical devices
- machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, medical devices, pharmaceuticals; foodstuffs, animal products
- US 23.7%, UK 13.8%, Belgium 13.2%, Germany 6.6%, Switzerland 5.5%, Netherlands 4.4%, France 4.4% (2015)
- data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing
- UK 32.5%, US 14%, France 10.2%, Germany 9.3%, Netherlands 4.9%, China 4.1% (2015)
- Country Risk Rating
- Changes in generally good but somewhat volatile political and economic environment can affect corporate payment behavior. A basically secure business environment can nonetheless give rise to occasional difficulties for companies. Corporate default probability is quite acceptable on average.
- Business Climate Rating
- The business environment is very good. Corporate financial information is available and reliable. Debt collection is efficient. Institutional quality is very good. Intercompany transactions run smoothly in environments rated A1.
- Flexible labor and goods markets
- Business-friendly climate, advantageous tax system
- Presence of multinational companies
- Specialization in high value-added sectors (including pharmaceuticals, IT services)
- Dependence on the European economic cycle
- Vulnerable to changes in foregin companies' strategies
- High public debt, increased by the cost of the banking crisis
- Banking sector still convalescing
Growth, which was artificially swollen in 2015, because of the repatriation of financial assets by some multinationals and the arrival of an aircraft leasing company (real GDP increase was approximately 4.5% excluding these exceptional factors), continued in the right direction in 2016. Multinational companies domicile their operations in the country to take advantage of the low corporation tax rate (12.5% at the most) but any positive effects of their activities are limited as most of these activities take place outside Ireland. The domestic market however gains momentum and there is some additional job creation. Unemployment has fallen and wages are rising, which should help drive consumption in 2017, whilst investments are likely to slow unless there are some new initiatives from multinational companies (in particular patent transfers). House building is however expected to continue. The high level of corporate debt and non-performing loans (mortgages, SME loans) still held by banks will continue to impact on credit availability to smaller companies. Stress tests carried out in 2016 by the European Banking Authority also revealed that Irish banks were still overly vulnerable to economic shocks.
In terms of foreign trade, the depreciation of the pound sterling, under the Brexit effect, could continue to impact on the Irish home economy, and in particular the agri-business sector, whilst multinationals, whose sales are denominated in other currencies, are relatively immune. Exports should however feel the benefits of a gradual increase in demand in other export markets.
There are other medium term challenges. If the United States reduces taxes on business, US multinationals could decide to repatriate some of their business operations and some of their profits to their country of origin. On the other hand, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU could lead to British companies relocating to Ireland.
Inflation is likely to rise in 2017 alongside the gradual rise in energy prices and possible tensions in the job market.
Ireland’s current account returned to surplus in 2013 thanks to a contraction in domestic demand and an improvement in its cost-competitiveness (the unit cost of labour rose slightly in 2016 but remains well below the levels seen prior to 2015). The current account surplus remains substantial. Exports growth rate slowed in 2016 because of weaker demand for chemical and pharmaceutical products (#1 exports) and a reduction in domiciliation by foreign companies. Slowing demand in the United Kingdom (15% of Irish exports) was however offset by strong growth in exports to China and the United States, and this trend is likely to continue in 2017.
The country ended, in late 2013, its international rescue plan without having to call on the Precautionary Credit Line. Thanks to economic growth and budget cuts, public deficit has been significantly reduced and national debt, which had literally ballooned between 2008 and 2012 as a result of the banking sector bailout and the recession, is gradually being reduced. In this context, the government now has increased room for manoeuvre which should enable it to cut taxes on lower income families and restart public investment. The increasing importance of corporation tax for government revenues means that the public accounts are more vulnerable to any changes in the strategies of multinational companies.
The inconclusive result of the February 2016 parliamentary elections delayed the formation of a new government. Parliament finally approved the appointment of Enda Kenny, leader of Fine Gael, as Prime Minister. He has been leading a minority coalition government since May 2016 that includes members of his party and a diverse mix of independent members of parliament. The second biggest party in parliament, Fianna Fail, the long-term rival to Fine Gael, agreed to abstain in parliamentary votes until the end of 2018. Any election ahead of the scheduled elections due to be held in 2021, would probably lead, once again, to a hung parliament.