National Profiles > > Regions > Northern Europe > Ireland
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Region: Northern Europe
2012 Population1: 4,586,897
Total Area (sq. miles)1: 26,599
Life Expectancy at Birth1: 81.0
Gross National Income Per Capita (PPP 2012 US $)1: $37,380
Official Religion(s) Or Church(es) 2: None

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Largest Religious Groups (Ireland)


Government Regulation of Religion Index: Average government regulation score over ARDA researchers' coding of 2003, 2005 and 2008 U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Reports (0-10, lower means less regulation) Government Favoritism of Religion Index: Average government favoritism score over ARDA researchers' coding of 2003, 2005 and 2008 U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Reports (0-10, lower means less favoritism) Social Regulation of Religion Index: Average social regulation score over ARDA researchers' coding of 2003, 2005 and 2008 U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Reports (0-10, lower means less regulation) Religious Persecution: Average number of people physically abused or displaced due to their religion according to U.S. Department of State's 2005 and 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports (as coded by ARDA researchers). 0 = None; 1 = 1-10; 2 = 11-20; 3 = 21-100; 4 = 101-500; 5 = 501-1000; 6 = 1001-5000; 7 = 5001-10000; 8 = 10001-50000; 9 = 50001-100000; 10 = greater than 100000.


Ireland, also known as the Republic of Ireland, is a sovereign state in western Europe occupying about five-sixths of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, located in the eastern part of the island, whose metropolitan area is home to around a third of the country's 4.6 million inhabitants. The state shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, Saint George's Channel to the south east, and the Irish Sea to the east. It is a unitary, parliamentary republic with an elected president serving as head of state. The head of government, the Taoiseach, is nominated by the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann. The Irish Free State was created in 1922 as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It effectively became a republic, with an elected president, under the constitution of 1937, in which it was named "Ireland". It was officially declared a republic in 1949. Ireland became a member of the United Nations in December 1955. It joined the European Economic Community (EEC), predecessor of the European Union, in 1973. Ireland had no formal relations with Northern Ireland for most of the twentieth century, but during the 1980s and 1990s the British and Irish governments worked with the Northern Ireland parties towards a resolution to the "Troubles". Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Ireland and Northern Ireland have co-operated on a number of policy areas under the North-South Ministerial Council created by the Agreement. Ireland ranks among the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita. After joining the EEC, Ireland enacted a series of liberal economic policies that resulted in rapid economic growth, coupled with a dramatic rise in inequality. The country achieved considerable prosperity from 1995 to 2007, during which it became known as the Celtic Tiger. This was halted by an unprecedented financial crisis that began in 2008, in conjunction with the concurrent global economic crash. In 2011 and 2013, Ireland was ranked as the seventh-most developed country in the world by the United Nations Human Development Index. It also performs well in several metrics of national performance, including freedom of the press, economic freedom and civil liberties. Ireland is a member of the European Union and is a founding member of the Council of Europe and the OECD. It pursues a policy of neutrality through non-alignment and is consequently not a member of NATO, although it does participate in Partnership for Peace.



Note: All country histories and flags were obtained from, 2015. (

1.  Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank’s Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

2.  The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

3.  The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom reports. The 2003, 2005, and 2008 reports were coded by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The GRI, GFI and SRI values reported on the National Profiles are averages from the 2003, 2005, and 2008 International Religious Freedom reports, while the Religious Persecution measure is an average from the 2005 and 2008 reports. All other measures derived from the International Religious Freedom reports were coded from the reports 2008. A data file with all of the 2008 coding, as well as data files with other cross national collections are available for preview and download from the data archive on this site. Used with permission.

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