Year of EU entry: 1973 / Capital city: Dublin / Population: 4.2 million
Since joining the European Union in 1973, the Republic of Ireland (Éire) has transformed itself from a largely agricultural society into a modern, technologically advanced Celtic Tiger economy.
Agricultural lowlands make up most of the interior, which is broken-up in places by low hills and includes considerable areas of bogs and lakes.
Although the history of Ireland has seen troubles and turbulence, its people have always been associated with a love of music and storytelling. Often referred to as the land of saints and scholars, the country is the birthplace of many famous English-language writers.
Ireland is home to internationally known rock bands and singers such as U2, The Corrs and Sinead O’Connor. Simple meat dishes and boiled vegetables such as the potato, carrot, turnip and parsnip form the principal ingredients of traditional Irish cooking.