Ireland flag 10 x 15 cm
Ireland is a country in north-western Europe. The modern sovereign state occupies about five-sixths of the island of Ireland, which was partitioned on 3 May 1921. It is bordered by Northern Ireland—part of the United Kingdom—to the north, by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Irish Sea to the east and the Celtic Sea and St George's Channel to the South and South-East. The legal name of the state is simply "Ireland", but its legal description the Republic of Ireland is sometimes used to differentiate the state from the island.
On 29 December 1937 Ireland became the successor-state to the Irish Free State, itself established on 6 December 1922. Ireland was one of the poorest countries in Western Europe and had high emigration.
The state became a republic in 1949. It had already ceased to participate in the British Commonwealth, but since sharing a monarch with Britain was then a requirement for membership, it automatically departed from that organisation at that time, which it has never rejoined.
The protectionist economy was opened in the late 1950s and Ireland joined the European Communities (now the European Union) in 1973. An economic crisis led Ireland to start large-scale economic reforms in the late 1980s. Ireland reduced taxation and regulation dramatically compared to other EU countries.
Despite a forecast for reduced economic growth in 2008, Ireland today has the fifth highest gross domestic product per capita and the seventh gross domestic product per capita considering purchasing power parity, and has the fifth highest Human Development Index rank in the world. The country also boasts the highest quality of life in the world, ranking first in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Quality-of-life index. Ireland was ranked sixth on the Global Peace Index. Ireland also has high rankings for its education system, political freedom and civil rights, press freedom and economic freedom; it was also ranked fourth from the bottom on the Failed States Index, being one of the few "sustainable" states in the world. Ireland has emerged as an attractive destination for foreign immigrants who now make up approximately 10% of the population. Ireland's population is the fastest growing in Europe with an annual growth rate of 2.5%.
Ireland is a member of the EU, the OECD, and the UN. Ireland's policy of neutrality means it is not a member of NATO, although it does contribute to peacekeeping missions sanctioned by the UN
The Flag of Ireland is the national flag of Ireland (Irish: An Bhratach Náisiúnta), also known as the tricolour, and is a vertical tricolour of green (at the hoist), white, and orange. The flag proportion is 1:2 (length twice the width). The green represents a Gaelic tradition while the orange represents the supporters of William of Orange. The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the 'Orange' and the 'Green'.
First introduced by Thomas Francis Meagher in 1848, it was not until the Easter Rising of 1916, when it was raised above the General Post Office, along with a green flag with words Irish Republic in Dublin, that the tricolour came to be regarded as the national flag. Meagher was the son of Newfoundland-born mayor of Waterford, Ireland, Thomas Meagher, Jr., and his flag was inspired by the similarly-symbolic Newfoundland Tricolour created in 1843.
The flag was adopted in 1919 by the Irish Republic during its war of independence, and subsequently by the Irish Free State (1922–1937), later being given constitutional status under the 1937 Constitution of Ireland. The tricolour is regarded by many nationalists as the national flag of the whole of island of Ireland. Thus it is flown (often controversially) by many nationalists in Northern Ireland as well as by the Gaelic Athletic Association. The shorter flag of Côte d'Ivoire's colours are the same but reversed in order.