macrohistory & world report

Ireland (the Emerald Isle)

Map of Ireland

Ireland (capital Dublin) and neighboring Northern Ireland of the United Kingdom

World Fact Book as of November 2014: "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 has dropped sharply since the onset of the world financial crisis. Ireland entered into a recession in 2008 for the first time in more than a decade, with the subsequent collapse of its domestic property market and construction industry. Property prices rose more rapidly in Ireland in the decade up to 2007 than in any other developed economy. Since their 2007 peak, average house prices have fallen 47%. In the wake of the collapse of the construction sector and the downturn in consumer spending and business investment, the export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, has become an even more important component of Ireland's economy. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. In 2008 the former COWEN government moved to guarantee all bank deposits, recapitalize the banking system, and establish partly-public venture capital funds in response to the country's economic downturn. In 2009, in continued efforts to stabilize the banking sector, the Irish Government established the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to acquire problem commercial property and development loans from Irish banks. Faced with sharply reduced revenues and a burgeoning budget deficit, the Irish Government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009. In addition to across-the-board cuts in spending, the 2009 budget included wage reductions for all public servants. 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 –\- because of additional government support for the country's deeply troubled banking sector. 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 fragile banking sector and avoid defaulting on its sovereign debt. Since entering office in March 2011, the new KENNY government has intensified austerity measures to try to meet the deficit targets under Ireland's EU-IMF program. Ireland has grown slowly since 2011, but managed to reduce the budget deficit to 7.2% of GDP in 2013. In late 2013, Ireland formally exited its EU-IMF bailout program, benefiting from its strict adherence to deficit-reduction targets and success in refinancing a large amount of banking-related debt."

Economic growth rate
2013: 0.6%
2012: 0.2%

Unemployment rate
2013: 13.5%
2012: 14.7%
2011: 14.3%
2010: 3.6%

Health expenditures
2009: 7.6% of GDP


Ireland has a birth rate slightly higher than the US and substantially higher than Switzrland. Births per 1,000 population estimated for 2012: Ireland 15.81, United States 13.68, Switzerland 9.51.

Ireland's crime rate is low – in murders down around where Switzerland and Japan are. In recent years, per capita total crimes reported is 20.71 per year per 1,000 people, compared to 81.55 in the United States (a United Nations report for the years 1998-2000). Ireland is not spending a lot on imprisonment. It has had 0.75 persons in prison per 1,000 people compared to 7.15 per 1,000 in the United States.

Living in an urban area
2010: 62%

Net migration rate
2012: More arriving than leaving. A net gain of 1.69 per 1,000 population.
2011: More arriving than leaving. A net gain of 0.86 per 1,000 population.
2009: More arriving than leaving. A net gain of 4.71 per 1,000 population.

The English language dominates in Ireland, while Celtic, or Gallic, is spoken by 41% of the population, mainly along Ireland's western

Church Attendance
According to the Dublin Archdiocese, church attendance is down from around 85% in 1975 to 60% in 2004.


Six-fifths of an island in the Atlantic Ocean, just west of Britain. Size equivalent to 265 by 265 kilometers, or roughly 166 by 166 miles. Mild climate and frequent rainfall has given Ireland the green that earns it the sobriquet "Emerald Isle". The island's area is 32,477 square miles (84,079 km²). Capital: Dublin.

Recent History

Ireland withdrew from the Commonwealth in 1948.

1973 Ireland joins the European Union.

1992: The sale of contraceptives is fully legalized.

1997: Divorce is legalized under certain circumstances. It is opposed by the Roman Catholic Church.

Mary McAleese was inaugurated as the eighth President of Ireland on 11 November 1997

in 1999, Ireland joined NATO's "partnership for peace."

2000: By now, according to journalist Fintan O'Toole, "Income taxes were cut, foreign companies were courted with massive tax breaks and the promise of light regulation. Enterprise was encouraged and rewarded." These are the Celtic Tiger years. Unemployment has fallen from 18% in the late 1980s to below 5%. O'Toole describes Ireland's economy as growing rapidly because it was catching up, "combined with the advantage of not having an old heavy industrial base."

In 2002 the euro became Ireland's sole currency.

November 2004: Mary McAleese is re-elected for a second seven-year term – with little contest because of her job approval ratings.

Economic crisis: During the economic boom before 2008 there was a rise in property prices and buying fueled by lending from banks. The bubble burst and the Irish banking system was plunged into crisis. Ireland's economy went into one of the deepest recessions in the eurozone, the economy in 2009 shrinking by 10%. In November 2010, Ireland and the EU agreed on a financial rescue package for the republic worth 85 billion euros.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.