70,273 sq km (27,133 sq miles).
Dublin. Population: 952,700 (1996).
The Republic of Ireland lies in the north Atlantic Ocean and is separated from Britain by the Irish Sea to the east. The northeastern part of the island (Northern Ireland) is part of the United Kingdom. The country has a central plain surrounded by a rim of mountains and hills offering some of the most varied and unspoilt scenery in Europe - quiet sandy beaches, semi-tropical bays warmed by the Gulf Stream, and rugged cliffs make up the 5600km (3500 miles) of coastline.
Republic. Head of State: President Mary McAleese since 1997. Head of Government: Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.
Irish (Gaelic) is the official language, spoken as a first language by about 55,000 people (mostly in the west). The majority speak English.
Roman Catholic 95 per cent, Protestant five per cent.
GMT (GMT + 1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before the last Sunday in October).
220 volts AC, 50Hz. three-pin plugs are in use.
IDD is available. Country code: 353 followed by the area code, omitting the initial zero. Outgoing international code: 00.
GSM 900 networks cover the whole country. GSM 900/1800 networks (operated by Esat Digifone and Meteor). Handsets can be hired. For further information, contact Eircell (website: www.eircell.ie).
Public access is available free in libraries. Cybercafés exist in nearly every town. ISPs include Ireland On-Line (website: http://home.iol.ie).
Post office hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1730/1800; Sat 0900-1300. Sub-post offices close at 1300 one day of the week. The Central Post Office is in O'Connell Street, Dublin.
There are several daily newspapers published in Dublin including The Irish Times, Evening Herald and the Irish Independent; and two in Cork. British dailies and Sunday papers are available.