When discussing the population of Ireland, it’s important to make a distinction between two territories that are separated politically. Geographically speaking, the term ‘Ireland’ relates to both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, but in terms of population statistics, both entities are kept apart.
Ireland Population History
The Republic of Ireland gained its independence from Great Britain in the early part of the 20th century. After a failed uprising in 1916, Irish nationalist parliamentarians formed their own government three years later.
A guerrilla war undertaken by the Irish Republican Army then followed and the independent state of the Republic of Ireland was finally ratified by the British government with the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1922.
The 2011 Census for the Republic of Ireland showed that the country possessed 4,581,269 citizens, making it the 119th largest country in the world in terms of pure numbers. Today, it retains that standing with an estimated 4,677,860 people.
Ireland’s land mass covers 70,273 km square kilometres, (27,133 square miles) and its population density in 2011 was therefore 65.2 people for every square kilometre (168.8 per square mile) making it the 142nd largest country on the planet in this respect.
Although the final figure with regards to Ireland’s population in 2011 has already been released, more detailed statistics are still to come through. To examine demographics in more detail therefore, findings from the previous census in 2006 have to be taken into account.
Back then, the total population of Ireland was recorded at 4,239,848, which represented an increase of 322,645 from the previous figures of 2002. From that total, 89 per cent of the population claimed to be Irish.
In terms of numbers, there were 419,733 foreign nationals, as well as 1,318 people with ‘no nationality’ and 44,279 who chose not to declare a nationality on the census form itself. Of that 419,733, 112,548 claimed to be English, 63,276 Polish and 24,628 Lithuanian.
Ireland Population Projections
The rise in population from 2002 to 2006 showed that the annual growth rate of 2% was the highest since records began. That was ultimately responsible for the increase in numbers of 322,645 in the four years from 2002.
The official figures from the 2011 Census showed that the growth has continued and there were 341,421 more citizens living in the Republic of Ireland in 2011 than there were in 2006.
This increase is a little inconsistent within Ireland itself, however, and while Dublin and other urban areas are enjoying sustained growth, more rural regions are actually experiencing a decline in population.
Overall however, the Ireland population in 2014 is enjoying healthy increases and the next official census could even see the total figures near 5.5 million.