About Ireland Introduction
Ireland is located on the northwestern periphery of Europe, covering a land area of 70,282 square kilometres (27,136 sq. miles). The island is situated between 51½ ° and 55½° north latitude and between 5½° and 10½° west longitude. The island consists of a large central lowland of limestone with a relief of hills surrounded by a discontinuous border of coastal mountains.
The Climate is influenced by the relatively warm waters of the Gulf Stream, and with the prevailing southwesterly winds coming from the Atlantic, the climate of Ireland is equable and temperatures are fairly uniform over the whole country. The coldest months are January and February which have mean daily temperatures of between 4 °C and 7 °C while July and August are the warmest, with mean temperatures of between 14 °C and 16 °C. May and June are the sunniest months, averaging five to seven hours of sunshine per day. In low-lying areas average annual rainfall is mostly between 800mm and 1200mm but in mountainous areas it may exceed 2000mm.
Ireland has achieved worldwide popularity as both a place to spend a holiday and to live. Its green and beautiful countryside and its ‘compact’ cities with their wealth of architectural variety, are populated by a people who are as friendly and welcoming as they are hardworking. A closer inspection of these national traits reveals some of the reasons: an educational system which is internationally recognised for its high standards, first-class healthcare services, and a range of leisure pursuits which is the envy of many other countries.
Ireland has one of the best performing economies in the industrialised world with the fastest growth rate in the OECD area for the fourth successive year. With many gaps still existing in the economic data for 1998, it is estimated that GDP grew by about 10% last year. The growth in real GNP is estimated at 8.3%.
The population of Ireland was estimated at 3.704 million in April 1998, a rise of 44,300 or 1.2 % on the previous April. This annual population increase (44,300) is the largest since 1979 (54,000). By the year 2001, four out of every ten people will be under 25 years of age, a much higher proportion than in any other European country, and a statistic of great importance to companies relying on future availability of labour.