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Population: 4,784 million(2017)
Area: 70 273 km²
Capital City: Dublin


About Ireland
Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George’s Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.
Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In 2011, the population of Ireland was about 6.6 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe after Great Britain. Just under 4.8 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.


Currency

The currency in use in Ireland is the Euro. Cash machines (ATMs) are widely available. Bank opening hours are typically between 10:00-16:00 Mondays to Fridays. Most hotels, shops, restaurants and some bars accept all major credit cards. Visa and Master Card are the most widely used credit cards in Ireland. If you plan on visiting a pub it is advisable to bring some cash. You will also need cash for taxis and most public transport.

Climate


The island’s lush vegetation, a product of its mild climate and frequent rainfall, earns it the sobriquet the Emerald Isle. Overall, Ireland has a mild but changeable oceanic climate with few extremes. The climate is typically insular and is temperate, avoiding the extremes in temperature of many other areas in the world at similar latitudes. This is a result of the moderating moist winds which ordinarily prevail from the South-Western Atlantic.
Precipitation falls throughout the year but is light overall, particularly in the east. The west tends to be wetter on average and prone to Atlantic storms, especially in the late autumn and winter months. These occasionally bring destructive winds and higher total rainfall to these areas, as well as sometimes snow and hail. The regions of north County Galway and east County Mayo have the highest incidents of recorded lightning annually for the island, with lightning occurring approximately five to ten days per year in these areas. Munster, in the south, records the least snow whereas Ulster, in the north, records the most.
Inland areas are warmer in summer and colder in winter. Usually around 40 days of the year are below freezing 0 °C (32 °F) at inland weather stations, compared to 10 days at coastal stations. Ireland is sometimes affected by heat waves, most recently in 1995, 2003, 2006, 2013 and 2018. In common with the rest of Europe, Ireland experienced unusually cold weather during the winter of 2010/11. Temperatures fell as low as −17.2 °C (1 °F) in County Mayo on 20 December and up to a metre (3 ft) of snow fell in mountainous areas.


Languages


The two official languages of the Republic of Ireland are Irish and English. Each language has produced a noteworthy literature. Irish, though now only the language of a minority, was the vernacular of the Irish people for over two thousand years and was possibly introduced during the Iron Age. It began to be written down after Christianisation in the 5th century and spread to Scotland and the Isle of Man where it evolved into the Scottish Gaelic and Manx languages respectively.


Economy


Despite the two jurisdictions using two distinct currencies (the euro and pound sterling), a growing amount of commercial activity is carried out on an all-Ireland basis. This has been facilitated by the two jurisdictions’ shared membership of the European Union, and there have been calls from members of the business community and policymakers for the creation of an “all-Ireland economy” to take advantage of economies of scale and boost competitiveness.


Education


The levels of Ireland’s education are primary, secondary and higher (often known as “third-level” or tertiary) education. In recent years further education has grown immensely. Growth in the economy since the 1960s has driven much of the change in the education system. Education is compulsory for all children in Ireland from the ages of six to sixteen or until students have completed three years of second level education and including one sitting of the Junior Certificate examination. Primary education commonly starts at four to five years old. Children typically enroll in a Junior Infant class at age four or five depending on parental wishes. Some schools enrollment policies have age four by a specific date minimum age requirements.


Religion


Religion has played a significant role in the cultural life of the island since ancient times (and since the 17th century plantations, has been the focus of political identity and divisions on the island). Ireland’s pre-Christian heritage fused with the Celtic Church following the missions of Saint Patrick in the 5th century. The Hiberno-Scottish missions, begun by the Irish monk Saint Columba, spread the Irish vision of Christianity to pagan England and the Frankish Empire. These missions brought written language to an illiterate population of Europe during the Dark Ages that followed the fall of Rome, earning Ireland the sobriquet, “the island of saints and scholars”.


Culture


Ireland’s culture comprises elements of the culture of ancient peoples, later immigrant and broadcast cultural influences (chiefly Gaelic culture, Anglicisation, Americanisation and aspects of broader European culture). In broad terms, Ireland is regarded as one of the Celtic nations of Europe, alongside Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Brittany. This combination of cultural influences is visible in the intricate designs termed Irish interlace or Celtic knotwork. These can be seen in the ornamentation of medieval religious and secular works. The style is still popular today in jewellery and graphic art, as is the distinctive style of traditional Irish music and dance, and has become indicative of modern “Celtic” culture in general.


Politics


Politically, the island is divided between the Republic of Ireland, an independent state, and Northern Ireland (a constituent country of the United Kingdom). They share an open border and both are part of the Common Travel Area.
Both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom are members of the European Union, having both acceded to its precursor entity, the European Economic Community [EEC], in 1973, and as a consequence there is free movement of people, goods, services and capital across the border.


Cuisine


Food and cuisine in Ireland takes its influence from the crops grown and animals farmed in the island’s temperate climate and from the social and political circumstances of Irish history. For example, whilst from the Middle Ages until the arrival of the potato in the 16th century the dominant feature of the Irish economy was the herding of cattle, the number of cattle a person owned was equated to their social standing. Thus herders would avoid slaughtering a milk-producing cow.
For this reason, pork and white meat were more common than beef and thick fatty strips of salted bacon (known as rashers) and the eating of salted butter (i.e. a dairy product rather than beef itself) have been a central feature of the diet in Ireland since the Middle Ages. The practice of bleeding cattle and mixing the blood with milk and butter (not unlike the practice of the Maasai) was common and black pudding, made from blood, grain (usually barley) and seasoning, remains a breakfast staple in Ireland. All of these influences can be seen today in the phenomenon of the “breakfast roll”.
The introduction of the potato in the second half of the 16th century heavily influenced cuisine thereafter. Great poverty encouraged a subsistence approach to food and by the mid-19th century the vast majority of the population sufficed with a diet of potatoes and milk.[208] A typical family, consisting of a man, a woman and four children, would eat 18 stone (110 kg) of potatoes a week. Consequently, dishes that are considered as national dishes represent a fundamental unsophistication to cooking, such as the Irish stew, bacon and cabbage, boxty, a type of potato pancake, or colcannon, a dish of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage.

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