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Word Count: 2,863
Ireland has been inhabited since Stone Age times For more than five thousand years peoples moving westwards across the European continent have settled in the country and each new group of immigrants Celts Vikings Normans English has contributed to its present population In 1841 shortly before the Great Famine the area comprising the present Irish State had a population of over 65 million The next census 1851 showed a massive decline to 51 million for the same area due to deaths from starvation and disease and large-scale emigrationThe outflow thus begun became a dominant feature of the population pattern over the succeeding years By 1961 the population of the State stood at 28 million the lowest census figure on record From 1961 onwards the pattern changed A combination of natural increase and the commencement of inward net migration resulting from increased prosperity produced an average annual rise in population of 06 in the period 1981 to 1986 Between 1986 and 1991 largely as a result of the resumption of emigration an average annual fall in population of 01 was recorded At the 1991 census the total population of the State was 3525719 In 1994 the population was estimated at 3571 million The major centers of population are Dublin 915000 Cork 174000 Limerick 75000 Galway 51000 Waterford 42000 and Dundalk 30000 59 of the populations live in cities and towns of 1000 people or more Overall population density is 51 persons per square kilometer with large variations between the east and south where densities are highest and the less populous west of the country A high proportion of the population is concentrated in the younger age groups Approximately 43 of the population is under 25 and approximately 27 is under 15 In 1993 for the first time on record the birth rate fell below the minimum population replacement rate of 21 births per woman during child-rearing age to 193 births per woman Total births in 1993
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