The number of residents in present-day Ireland has
decreased to about half since the 1840s, which is partly due
to the emergency years in the mid-1800s and partly to a very
large emigration. However, since the beginning of the 1960s
(when the population was 2.8 million) the population has
increased, and Ireland has a high nativity for Europe.
In the Dublin area, 25 per cent of Ireland's population
lives, and 60 per cent live in urban areas with over 1,500
residents. The largest cities in 2016 were Dublin (553,200),
Cork (125,600) and Galway (79,500). Ireland has a young
population; almost half of the population is under 25 years
Countryaah, Irish and English are official languages in Ireland. In
essence, English or Hiberno-English is spoken (English
colored by Irish pronunciation and expression). In 2006,
about 42% of the population considered themselves
Irish-speaking, but only a fraction of them speak Irish
only. Most are more or less bilingual, with Irish as other
languages. The Irish state is working to strengthen the
position of the Irish, including through legislation and
Bord na Gaeilge (Irish Language Council). For example,
Irish are compulsory subject in school education since 1921.
Since 1937 there has been complete freedom of religion.
In 1991, 91.6% of the population were Roman Catholics, 2.5%