The World Factbook (1990)/Ireland



World Factbook (1990) Ireland.jpg

 See regional map V


Total area: 70,280 km²; land area: 68,890 km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundary: 360 km with UK

Coastline: 1,448 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: no precise definition
Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: maritime boundary with the UK; Northern Ireland question with the UK; Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark, Iceland, and the UK (Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area)

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

Terrain: mostly level to rolling interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains; sea cliffs on west coast

Natural resources: zinc, lead, natural gas, crude oil, barite, copper, gypsum, limestone, dolomite, peat, silver

Land use: 14% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 71% meadows and pastures; 5% forest and woodland; 10% other

Environment: deforestation


Population: 3,500,212 (July 1990), growth rate -0.4% (1990)

Birth rate: 15 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 9 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -10 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 6 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 72 years male, 78 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 2.1 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Irishman(men), Irish (collective pl.); adjective—Irish

Ethnic divisions: Celtic, with English minority

Religion: 94% Roman Catholic, 4% Anglican, 2% other

Language: Irish (Gaelic) and English; English is the language generally used, with Gaelic spoken in a few areas, mostly along the western seaboard

Literacy: 99%

Labor force: 1,310,000; 57.3% services, 19.1% manufacturing and construction, 14.8% agriculture, forestry, and fishing (1988)

Organized labor: 36% of labor force


Long-form name: Republic of Ireland

Type: republic

Capital: Dublin

Administrative divisions: 26 counties; Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow

Independence: 6 December 1921 (from UK)

Constitution: 29 December 1937; adopted 1937

Legal system: based on English common law, substantially modified by indigenous concepts; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: St. Patrick's Day, 17 March

Executive branch: president, prime minister, deputy prime minister, Cabinet

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament (Oireachtas) consists of an upper house or Senate (Seanad Eireann) and a lower house or House of Representatives (Dáil Eireann)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—President Dr. Patrick J. HILLERY (since 3 December 1976);

Head of Government—Prime Minister Charles J. HAUGHEY (since 12 July 1989, the fourth time elected as prime minister)

Political parties and leaders: Fianna Fail, Charles Haughey; Labor Party, Richard Spring; Fine Gael, Alan Dukes; Communist Party of Ireland, Michael O'Riordan; Workers' Party, Proinsias DeRossa; Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams; Progressive Democrats, Desmond O'Malley; note—Prime Minister Haughey heads a coalition consisting of the Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held 21 October 1983 (next to be held October 1990); results—Dr. Patrick Hillery reelected; Senate last held on 17 February 1987 (next to be held February 1992); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(60 total, 49 elected) Fianna Fail 30, Fine Gael 16, Labor 3, Independents 11;

House of Representatives—last held on 12 July 1989 (next to be held NA June 1994); results—Fianna Fail 44.0%, Fine Gael 29.4%, Labor Party 9.3%, Progressive Democrats 5.4%, Workers' Party 4.9%, Sinn Fein 1.1%, independents 5.9%; seats—(166 total) Fianna Fail 77, Fine Gael 55, Labor Party 15, Workers' Party 7, Progressive Democrats 6, independents 6

Communists: under 500


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Padraic N. MACKERNAN; Chancery at 2234 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 462-3939; there are Irish Consulates General in Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco; US—Ambassador Richard A. MOORE; Embassy at 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin; telephone [353](1) 688777

Flag: three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and orange; similar to the flag of the Ivory Coast which is shorter and has the colors reversed orange (hoist side), white, and green; also similar to the flag of Italy which is shorter and has colors of green (hoist side), white, and red


Overview: The economy is small, open, and trade dependent. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts for 35% of GNP and about 80% of exports and employs 20% of the labor force. The government has successfully reduced the rate of inflation from double-digit figures in the late 1970s to about 4% in 1989. In 1987, after years of deficits, the balance of payments was brought into the black. Unemployment, however, is a serious problem. A 1989 unemployment rate of 17.7% placed Ireland along with Spain as the countries with the worst jobless records in Western Europe.

GDP: $31.4 billion, per capita $8,900; real growth rate 4.3% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.2% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 17.7% (1989)

Budget: revenues $10.9 billion; expenditures $11.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.5 billion (1989)

Exports: $20.3 billion (f.o.b., 1989); commodities—live animals, animal products, chemicals, data processing equipment, industrial machinery; partners—EC 74% (UK 35%, FRG 11%, France 9%), US 8%

Imports: $17.3 billion (c.i.f., 1989); commodities—food, animal feed, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, textiles, clothing; partners—EC 66% (UK 42%, FRG 9%, France 4%), US 16%

External debt: $16.1 billion (1988)

Industrial production: growth rate 9.5% (1989 est.)

Electricity: 4,957,000 kW capacity; 14,480 million kWh produced, 4,080 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: food products, brewing, textiles, clothing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, transportation equipment, glass and crystal

Agriculture: accounts for 11% of GNP and 14.8% of the labor force; principal crops—turnips, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat; livestock—meat and dairy products; 85% self-sufficient in food; food shortages include bread grain, fruits, vegetables

Aid: NA

Currency: Irish pound (plural—pounds); 1 Irish pound (Ĭr) = 100 pence

Exchange rates: Irish pounds (Ĭr) per US$1—0.6399 (January 1990), 0.7047 (1989), 0.6553 (1988), 0.6720 (1987), 0.7454 (1986), 0.9384 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: Irish National Railways (CIE) operates 1,947 km 1.602-meter gauge, government owned; 485 km double track; 38 km electrified

Highways: 92,294 km total; 87,422 km surfaced, 4,872 km gravel or crushed stone

Inland waterways: limited for commercial traffic

Pipelines: natural gas, 225 km

Ports: Cork, Dublin, Shannon Estuary, Waterford

Merchant marine: 67 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 113,569 GRT/139,681 DWT; includes 3 short-sea passenger, 29 cargo, 2 refrigerated cargo, 2 container, 23 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 1 specialized tanker, 2 chemical tanker, 5 bulk

Civil air: 23 major transport aircraft

Airports: 40 total, 37 usable; 18 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 5 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: small, modern system using cable and radio relay circuits; 900,000 telephones; stations—45 AM, 16 (29 relays) FM, 18 (68 relays) TV; 5 coaxial submarine cables; 2 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth stations

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Naval Service, Army Air Corps

Military manpower: males 15-49, 870,161; 705,765 fit for military service; 33,259 reach military age (17) annually

Defense expenditures: 1.6% of GDP, or $500 million (1989 est.)