The Republic Ireland is made up of 26 counties as constituted by the Irish Free State in 1922. The remaining northern six counties remained under British rule. The country has a population of approximately 3,700,000, and is currently under-going a period of dynamic social and economic development. The 'Celtic Tiger' economy saw the traditional pattern of emigration being replaced in the 1990s by net immigration. Ireland is beginning to become a multi-racial society as increasing numbers of economic migrants from around the world and refugees enter the country. This has exposed disturbing levels of racism. The traditional power of the Catholic Church is in decline and the state and civil society are now the key sites of governance of Irish society.

Last Modified: 31.10.2000

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