Bartholomew Patrick Ahern
(pronounced "bar-THAL-a-mew PA-trick ah-HERN")
"The people of Ireland want to see our country modernized, but they want to see it modernized in a way that's consistent with their own beliefs."
The Republic of Ireland is situated on a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, located approximately 80 km (50 mi) to the west of Great Britain. The two countries are separated by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and the St. George's Channel. Covering a total area of 70,282 sq km (27,136 sq mi), the republic encompasses all but the six northeastern counties.
The first official language of the country is Irish (Gaelic), but its use is not as widespread as English, which is spoken universally. Ireland is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic (91.6%). The largest city and capital, Dublin, is home to almost one-third of the country's nearly 3.9 million people.
Economic growth was exceptionally strong from the mid-1990s to the early part of the new century, however the global economic downturn contributed to a slower growth rate of 3.9% in 2002. Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) rose from US $12,884 to US $21,600 in less than 10 years (it currently stands at US $28,500). Inflation fell from5.6% in 2000 to 4.6% in 2002. Unemployment fell to 4.7% in 2002, down from 16% in 1993.
Ireland joined the European Economic and Monetary Union in 1999, and became one of twelve nations to adopt the euro as official currency in 2002.
Office of the Prime Minister
Upper Merion St.
Dublin 2, Ireland