Demographics of Ireland

Territory overview

Republic of Ireland

Official Domain suffix: .ie

With a population of just over 4.5 million, the Republic represents an attractive export market for online merchants particularly from the UK. It possesses the fourth-highest GDP per capita in the EU, good infrastructure and a digitally-connected population. The predominant language is English, with 30% of the population also speaking Irish Gaelic – which is supported by the government.

The country boasts a coastline of over 1,400 km and a strong tourist industry, with over 8.6 million international visitors every year according to the Central Statistics Office, January 2015. International travellers are catered for by three main international airports in Dublin, Cork and Shannon. The Republic consists of four separate provinces with the capital, Dublin, located on the eastern coast.

As a member of the EU, the Republic has strong trading links within the community and further afield. Its legal and taxation systems also mean that it is an attractive place for international businesses to base themselves, particularly when looking to trade into the EU. Several large multinationals are currently headquartered in the country; notably Google and Facebook.

At the beginning of 2016, the World Bank ranked the Republic as 17th for ease of doing business; out of 189 countries.

Source: March 2016


GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS)

(Index: EU28 - 100) 2014

Country Statistical Profile

World ecommerce Rank: 30

Capital: Dublin

Geographical size: 69 797 sq km

Population: 4,604,029 (2014)

GDP: €185.412bn (2014)

Official EU language(s): Irish Gaelic, English

Political system: parliamentary republic

EU member country since: 1 January 1973

Currency: (€) Euro, since 1 January 1999

Schengen area member? No

Source: EC:

The Republic’s top trading partners are:
• Exports: US (21%), UK (16%), Belgium (14%) and Germany (7%)
   - The British Irish Chamber of Commerce estimates trade at €60bn in 2016 – over €1bn per week,
     and their goal is to see €100bn per annum
• Imports: UK (39%), US (10%), Germany (8.5%) and Netherlands (6%)
The country’s economy is driven largely by foreign direct investment, a well-educated workforce and a government keen to reduce its borrowing deficit. Key industries include technology, financial services, pharmaceuticals, engineering and clean technology.
The UK, being the closest country geographically, is a strong trading partner while the influence of global,
US technology brands impact the import / export figures.
A large proportion of the population live in rural areas, including smaller towns and villages.
The capital city, Dublin, is by-far the largest conurbation with over 1 million inhabitants.

The Republic – largest population centres

Source: Central Statistics Office, Population Census 2011.

Republic of Ireland OECD Statistical Profile

Source: OECD Factbook statistics. For explanatory notes, see OECD Factbook 2014 (DOI: 10.1787/factbook-2014-en) (DOI: 10.1787/csp-irl-table-2015-2-en)

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is referenced in this report due to the shared border with the Republic and the close integration of many of the communities. These factors, a common geography and different economic environments mean that cross-border trade is important both sides of the border.

As part of the UK, Northern Ireland operates under the UK legal system, is regulated by some of the same bodies as the rest of the UK but does have a devolved government which is responsible for delivery of local services and certain elements of legislation.

Table 1: Total population and by county of Northern Ireland. Source:

Total population: 1.84 million

Gross Value Add (GVA): growth of around 1.4% in 2016 (versus 7% in Republic)

Source: PWC April 2016

Average household Income: £20,934

Source: PWC April 2015

Political and socio-economic environment

The Republic has a largely ceremonial president as head of state, an elected parliament, with the government being led by the Taoiseach (prime minister). The government is often dominated by either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. There have been a number of instances where a coalition government is required and this has usually involved the Labour Party. In recent years Sinn Féin has again seen increased support.

A cabinet of 15 ministers steer the executive power of the government. Legislative power is retained by the parliament while the independent judiciary oversees the legal system. The judiciary is headed by the chief justice who presides over the Supreme Court.

The Republic’s economy was hit particularly hard by the global recession of 2008 and the ensuing ‘Eurozone crisis’. Having been referred to as the ‘Celtic Tiger’ during the first decade of the new millennium, the economy became too heavily dependent on private and commercial property markets.

The global financial crisis hit values of these assets and the high level of government debt couldn’t be supported with slower economic activity. As a result, the Republic was one of the first countries to work with the EU / IMF on a €85bn bailout. The country is also the first to come out of this arrangement and the economy is growing once more.

One of the reasons for its success is the attractiveness to international investors, mainly due to its tax regime and the ease of doing business. There is increasing pressure on the government to amend some of these measures so as to ‘level the playing field’ with their European colleagues.

A recent change in US legislation will also have an impact. Reverse take-overs, whereby big companies buy smaller companies in countries with more favourable taxation laws and then move their headquarters to take advantage of these rules have been curbed.




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