Ireland is an independent state 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 a parliamentary democracy and a republic. It is bordered by Northern Ireland to the north east, the Irish Sea to the east, St George's Channel to the south-east, the Celtic Sea to the south and by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and north. The name of the state is Ireland, while the description the Republic of Ireland is sometimes used when there is a need to differentiate the state from the island.
The Republic of Irelands flag is a green, white and orange tricolour composed of vertical bars. The green represents the mainly nationalist catholic community, the orange represents the protestant unionist community (now mainly resident in the UK ruled north) and the white represents the desire for the end to the hostilities that have plagued the country's long and turbulent history.
On 29 December 1937 Ireland became the successor-state to the Irish Free State, itself established on 6 December 1922. In 1949, Ireland became a republic and left the British Commonwealth.
Ireland was one of the poorest countries in Western Europe and had high emigration but in contrast to many other states in the period remained financially solvent as a result of low government expenditure. The protectionist economy was opened in the late 1950s and Ireland joined the European Community (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.
Ireland is ranked as the 32nd economic power in the world, Ireland today has the sixth highest gross domestic product per capita and the eighth highest 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 the most "Sustainable" non-Nordic state in the world.
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