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.
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.