The island of Ireland consists of 32 counties and two political jurisdictions: Ireland and Northern Ireland. The official name of the country is Ireland/Èire, which may be referred to as the "Republic of Ireland." The Republic of Ireland currently has a population of about 4.94 million people and is growing at a rate of about 1.13%. The entire island of Ireland, both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, have a population around 6.8 million people.
Ireland has been inhabited for more than 9,000 years by groups like the Riata, Laigin, and Cruthin. Over the last 1,200 years, the island has been inhabited by the Vikings, Normans, Welsh, Scots, English, Eastern Europeans, Africans, and South Americans, the latter two to a lesser degree. Celtic and Gaelic culture and traditions strongly influence the Irish culture.
The diverse city of Dublin contains many immigrant communities including Polish, Lithuanian, British, Latvian and Nigerian. Most of the diversity within Ireland comes from European descent, with exactly 5% of the population identifying as non-white. Migration to Ireland is fairly common and they rank 28th in the world in terms of the amount of immigration they receive.
Ireland Religion, Economy and Politics
The largest religion in the country is Christianity, particularly Roman Catholics, which account for more than 84% of the population of the Republic of Ireland. There is a small but rapidly growing population of Muslim people due to immigration. About 4% of the Republic of Ireland has no religion, compared to 14% in Northern Ireland. There is also a small Jewish population.
The economy in Ireland has been one of the strongest in Europe in recent years with consistently rising wages and almost zero unemployment. Major industries in Ireland include high-tech, life sciences, and financial services- all of which are very lucrative.
Ireland's political system is broken into two jurisdictions which are governed separately: the sovereign state which makes up five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Generally speaking, the Irish government is a parliamentary democracy. They have a president that is elected democratically for a seven-year term, for a maximum of two terms. The Irish parliament is called the Oireachtas, which is divided into two houses: the Dáil and the Seanad Éireann. The Dáil is a 158-member legislative power, and the Seanad functions like a Senate to delay or change bills passed by the Dáil.
Ireland Population History
During the Potato Famine -between 1845 and 1851 - two million people died or were forced to emigrate from Ireland. The population of Ireland has never been able to repopulate to its pre-famine level of approximately 8 million residents.
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 in 1919.
A guerrilla war was 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.
Jumping ahead, 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. Will Ireland be able to match pre-Famine numbers if this trend continues? Only time will tell.
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.