Here in Ireland, the year 2016 has an intense historical resonance for all Irish people as it marks the centenary of a rebellion, known as the “Easter Rising”, which was the beginning of a series of events which would lead Ireland to become a sovereign nation in 1922.
Throughout the year, the people of Ireland are taking part in a series of commemorative events looking back not only at the events of Easter 1916 but indeed of the years before and after that seminal event. Already we have seen television documentaries on the events themselves as well as interesting spotlights on individual histories which illuminate the thinking of some of the characters involved both big and small.
In the 100 years since 1916 have seen Ireland change from an agrarian economy, relatively impoverished by western European standards, to today’s recovering and now thriving economy with the highest growth in the EU.
In 1916 half of the working population worked in agriculture compared to just 5% today. In 2016 70% of the economy is based on the service economy. In the meantime the population has grown by almost half since 1916. Ireland plays an important part in all of the major international political and humanitarian groups under the auspices of the EU and the UN.
Here are 10 interesting facts about Ireland*:
Current population of the island of Ireland 6.4 million
70 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry
Ireland ranks in the top 20 globally for the quality of its scientific research
It has the youngest workforce in the EU
The number of farms in Ireland has fallen by 60% in the last 100 years while the average size has doubled to 33 hectares
Since 1916 life expectancy for men has risen by 25 years to an average of 78.3 and for women by 28 years to 82.7
100 years ago there were 9,850 cars registered in Ireland. Today that number is 1.9 million
The first settlers came to Ireland about 10,000 years ago
More than half of 30 - 34 year olds (51.1%) have completed third level education - the highest percentage in the EU
The percentage of internet users in Ireland is 78% (compared to say 96% in Iceland or 59% in Italy)
*Sources Eurostat, World Bank, Central Statistics Office, Tourism Ireland