In the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Britain, the Irish Republic governs about 85% of the island of Ireland, with the remainder (Northern Ireland) being part of the UK.
Geography: Low mountain ranges along an irregular coastline surround an inland plain punctuated by lakes, undulating hills, and peat bogs.
Climate: The Gulf Stream accounts for the mild and wet climate. Snow is rare, except in the mountains.
People and Society: Though homogeneous in ethnicity and Roman Catholic by religion, society has undergone a major generational change, liberalizing birth control, divorce, abortion, and general attitudes. Traditionally an emigrant nation, there is now net immigration. The Good Friday peace agreement over Northern Ireland was reached in 1998.
The Economy: Strong growth until 2008, when housing bubble burst and banks faltered. Struggling to cut budget deficit. Skilled workforce. Efficient agriculture, food-processing, and electronics industries.
Insight: About 40% of Irish people can speak Irish Gaelic
Official Name: Ireland
Date of Formation: 1922
Population: 4.52 million
Total Area: 27,135 sq. miles (70,280 sq. km)
Density: 170 people per sq. mile
Languages: English*, Irish Gaelic*
Religions: Roman Catholic 88%, other and nonreligious 9%, Anglican 3%
Ethnic Mix: Irish 99%, other 1%
Government: Parliamentary system
Currency: Euro = 100 cents