Ireland emerged from the conflict that marked its birth as an independent state to become one of Europe’s economic success stories in the final decade of the twentieth century.
After the country joined the European Community in 1973, it was transformed from a largely agricultural society into a modern, high-technology economy.
However, the economy collapsed following the 2008 global financial crisis. With the help of a bailout Ireland has been recovering once more.
Its strong literary and musical traditions, as well as its long history of emigration, have given Ireland an international cultural presence disproportionate to its size.
Six Protestant-dominated counties of Northern Ireland – afraid of a majority Catholic united Ireland – in 1921 opted to stay in the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland subsequently saw decades of violent conflict between those campaigning for a united Ireland, and those wishing to stay in the United Kingdom
- Capital: Dublin
- Population 4.6 million
- Area 70,182 sq km (27,097 sq miles)
- Major languages English, Irish
- Major religion Christianity
- Life expectancy 78 years (men), 83 years (women)
- Currency euro