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Celtic tribes arrived on the island between 600-150 B.C. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian BORU defeated the Danes in 1014. English invasions began in the 12th century and set off more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish struggle marked by fierce rebellions and harsh repressions. A failed 1916 Easter Monday Rebellion touched off several years of guerrilla warfare that in 1921 resulted in independence from the UK for 26 southern counties; six northern (Ulster) counties remained part of the UK. In 1949, Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth; it joined the European Community in 1973. Irish governments have sought the peaceful unification of Ireland and have cooperated with Britain against terrorist groups. A peace settlement for Northern Ireland is... See More



 Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain

Geographic Coordinates:

 53 00 N, 8 00 W


 Total: 70,273 sq km
Land: 68,883 sq km
Water: 1,390 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 Slightly larger than West Virginia

Land Boundaries:

 Total: 360 km
Border countries: UK 360 km


 1,448 km (Rank: 70)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


 Temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time


 Mostly level to rolling interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains; sea cliffs on west coast

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Carrauntoohil 1,041 m

Natural Resources:

 Natural gas, peat, copper, lead, zinc, silver, barite, gypsum, limestone, dolomite

Land Use:

 Arable land: 16.82%
Permanent crops: 0.03%
Other: 83.15% (2005)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 46.8 cu km (2003)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 1.18 cu km/yr (23%/77%/0%)
Per capita: 284 cu m/yr (1994)

Environment - Current Issues:

 Water pollution, especially of lakes, from agricultural runoff

Environment - International Agreements:

 Party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

Signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Marine Life Conservation

Geography - Note:

 Strategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe; over 40% of the population resides within 100 km of Dublin

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 Noun: Irishman(men), Irishwoman(women), Irish (collective plural)
Adjective: Irish

Ethnic Groups:

 Irish 87.4%, other white 7.5%, Asian 1.3%, black 1.1%, mixed 1.1%, unspecified 1.6% (2006 census)


 English (official, the language generally used), Irish (Gaelic or Gaeilge) (official, spoken mainly in areas along the western coast)


 Roman Catholic 87.4%, Church of Ireland 2.9%, other Christian 1.9%, other 2.1%, unspecified 1.5%, none 4.2% (2006 census)


 4,670,976 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 21.1% (male 503,921/female 483,454)
15-64 years: 67.3% (male 1,581,959/female 1,560,238)
65 years and over: 11.6% (male 246,212/female 295,192) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 34.8 years
Male: 34.5 years
Female: 35.1 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 1.061% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 16.1 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 6.34 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 0.86 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 62% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 1.8% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 DUBLIN (capital) 1.084 million (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.057 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 3 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 3.85 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 4.24 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 3.44 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 80.19 years
Male: 77.96 years
Female: 82.55 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 2.02 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 7.6% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 3.187 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital Bed Density:

 5.17 beds/1,000 population (2007)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 100% of population
Rural: 100% of population
Total: 100% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 100% of population
Rural: 98% of population
Total: 99% of population
Urban: 0% of population
Rural: 2% of population
Total: 1% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 0.2% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 6,900 (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 Fewer than 100 (2009 est.)

Obesity - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 13% (2002)

Education Expenditures:

 4.9% of GDP (2007)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 99%
Male: 99%
Female: 99% (2003 est.)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 18 years
Male: 18 years
Female: 18 years (2008)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 24.3%
Male: 30.9%
Female: 17.3% (2009)

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Ireland
Local long form: none
Local short form: Eire

Government Type:

 Republic, parliamentary democracy


 Name: Dublin
Geographic coordinates: 53 19 N, 6 14 W
Time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative Divisions:

 29 counties and 5 cities*; Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Cork*, Donegal, Dublin*, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Galway, Galway*, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Limerick*, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, North Tipperary, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, South Dublin, South Tipperary, Waterford, Waterford*, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow


 6 December 1921 (from the UK by treaty)

National Holiday:

 Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March


 Adopted 1 July 1937 by plebiscite; effective 29 December 1937

Legal System:

 Common law system based on the English model but substantially modified by customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: President Michael D. HIGGINS (since 29 October 2011)

Head of government: Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda KENNY (since 9 March 2011)

Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with previous nomination by the prime minister and approval of the House of Representatives

Elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 29 October 2011 (next scheduled for October 2018); prime minister (taoiseach) nominated by the House of Representatives (Dail Eireann) and appointed by the president

Election results: Michael D. HIGGINS elected president; percent of vote - Michael D. HIGGINS 39.6%, Sean GALLAGHER 28.5%, Martin MCGUINNESS 13.7%, Gay MITCHELL 6.4%, David NORRIS 6.2%

Legislative Branch:

 Bicameral Parliament or Oireachtas consists of the Senate or Seanad Eireann (60 seats; 49 members elected by the universities and from candidates put forward by five vocational panels, 11 are nominated by the prime minister; members serve five-year terms) and the lower house of Parliament or Dail Eireann (166 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)

Elections: Senate - last held in 27 April 2011 (next to be held 2016); House of Representatives - last held on 25 February 2011 (next to be held probably in 2016)

Election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Fine Gael 19, Fianna Fail 14, Labor Party 12, Sinn Fein 3, independents 12; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Fine Gael 45.8%, Labor Party 22.3%, Fianna Fail 12.0%, Sinn Fein 8.4%, United Left Alliance 3.0%, New Vision 0.6%, independents 7.8%; seats by party - Fine Gael 76, Labor Party 37, Fianna Fail 20, Sinn Fein 14, United Left Alliance 5, New Vision 1, independents 13; note - after November 2009 disbandment of the Progressive Democrats, the two members of the Senate continued as independent DPs

Note: on 8 November 2008, delegates voted to disband the Progressive Democrats, and in November 2009 it officially stopped operating as a political party

Judicial Branch:

 Supreme Court (Court of Final Appeal) (judges appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister and cabinet); Courts of First Instance (includes High Court)

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Fianna Fail [Michael MARTIN]; Fine Gael [Enda KENNY]; Green Party [John GORMLEY]; Labor Party [Eamon GILMORE]; New Vision; Progressive Democrats or PD [Noel GREALISH] (formerly dissolved on 20 November 2009); Sinn Fein [Gerry ADAMS]; Socialist Party [Joe HIGGINS]; The Workers' Party [Michael FINNEGAN]; United Left Alliance

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Families Acting for Innocent Relatives or FAIR [Brian MCCONNELL] (seek compensation for victims of violence); Families Against Intimidation and Terror or FAIT (oppose terrorism); Gaeltacht Civil Rights Campaign (Coiste Cearta Sibhialta na Gaeilge) or CCSG (encourages the use of the Irish language and campaigns for greater civil rights in Irish speaking areas); Iona Institute [David QUINN] (a conservative Catholic think tank); Irish Anti-War Movement [Richard Boyd BARRETT] (campaigns against wars around the world); Irish Republican Army or IRA (terrorist group); Keep Ireland Open (environmental group); Midland Railway Action Group or MRAG [Willie ALLEN] (transportation promoters); Peace and Neutrality Alliance [Roger COLE] (campaigns to protect Irish neutrality); Rail Users Ireland (formerly the Platform 11 - transportation promoters); 32 Country Sovereignty Movement or 32CSM (supports a fully sovereign Ireland); Ulster Defence Association or UDA (terrorist group)

International Organization Participation:


Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Michael COLLINS
Chancery: 2234 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: [1] (202) 462-3939
FAX: [1] (202) 232-5993
Consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel ROONEY
Embassy: 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Mailing address: use embassy street address
Telephone: [353] (1) 668-8777
FAX: [353] (1) 668-9946

Flag Description:

 Three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and orange; officially the flag colors have no meaning, but a common interpretation is that the green represents the Irish nationalist (Gaelic) tradition of Ireland; orange represents the Orange tradition (minority supporters of William of Orange); white symbolizes peace (or a lasting truce) between the green and the orange

Note: similar to the flag of Cote d'Ivoire, which is shorter and has the colors reversed - orange (hoist side), white, and green; also similar to the flag of Italy, which is shorter and has colors of green (hoist side), white, and red

National Symbols:


National Anthem:

 Name: "Amhran na bhFiann" (The Soldier's Song)
Lyrics/music: Peadar KEARNEY [English], Liam O RINN [Irish]/Patrick HEENEY and Peadar KEARNEY

Note: adopted 1926; instead of "Amhran na bhFiann," the song "Ireland's Call" is often used in athletic events where citizens of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland compete as a unified team

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Economy - Overview:

 Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. Ireland was among the initial group of 12 EU nations that began circulating the euro on 1 January 2002. GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity has dropped sharply since the onset of the world financial crisis, with GDP falling by over 3% in 2008, nearly 8% in 2009, and 1% in 2010. Ireland entered into a recession in 2008 for the first time in more than a decade, with the subsequent collapse of its domestic property and construction markets. Property prices rose more rapidly in Ireland in the decade up to 2007 than in any other developed economy. Since their 2007 peak, average house prices have fallen 50%. In the wake of the collapse of the construction sector and the downturn in consumer spending and business investment, the export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, has become a key component of Ireland's economy. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. In 2008 the COWEN government moved to guarantee all bank deposits, recapitalize the banking system, and establish partly-public venture capital funds in response to the country's economic downturn. In 2009, in continued efforts to stabilize the banking sector, the Irish Government established the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to acquire problem commercial property and development loans from Irish banks. Faced with sharply reduced revenues and a burgeoning budget deficit, the Irish Government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009. In addition to across-the-board cuts in spending, the 2009 budget included wage reductions for all public servants. These measures were not sufficient. In 2010, the budget deficit reached 32.4% of GDP - the world's largest deficit, as a percentage of GDP - because of additional government support for the banking sector. In late 2010, the COWEN Government agreed to a $112 billion loan package from the EU and IMF to help Dublin further increase the capitalization of its banking sector and avoid defaulting on its sovereign debt. The government also initiated a four-year austerity plan to cut an additional $20 billion from its budget. A return to modest growth is expected in 2011.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $172.3 billion (2010 est.)
$174.2 billion (2009 est.)
$188.4 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $204.3 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 -1% (2010 est.)
-7.6% (2009 est.)
-3.5% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $37,300 (2010 est.)
$38,000 (2009 est.)
$41,700 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 2%
Industry: 29%
Services: 70% (2009 est.)

Labor Force:

 2.14 million (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 5%
Industry: 20%
Services: 76% (2010 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 13.6% (2010 est.)
11.8% (2009)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 5.5% (2009 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 2.9%
Highest 10%: 27.2% (2000)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 29.3 (2009)
35.9 (1987)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 11.6% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $70.74 billion
Expenditures: $137 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 34.6% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -32.4% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 94.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
65.3% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 -0.9% (2010 est.)
-4.5% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 1.75% (31 December 2010)
1.75% (31 December 2009)

Note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 5.45% (31 December 2010 est.)
4.32% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:


Note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 16 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $131.9 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$145.1 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 17 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders

Stock of Broad Money:

 $245 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$283.8 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $745.7 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
$738.5 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $63.1 billion (31 December 2010)
$61.7 billion (31 December 2009)
$49.4 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - Products:

 Beef, dairy products, barley, potatoes, wheat


 Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, computer hardware and software, food products, beverages and brewing; medical devices

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 7.4% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 27.28 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 95.9%
Hydro: 2.3%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 1.7% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 26.99 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 290 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 756 million kWh (2010 est.)

Oil - Production:

 431 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 159,700 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 17,480 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 176,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 388 million cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 5.656 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 5.261 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 9.911 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$1.477 billion (2010 est.)
-$6.544 billion (2009 est.)


 $110.1 billion (2010 est.)
$108.2 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; live animals, animal products

Exports - Partners:

 US 22.1%, UK 16.1%, Belgium 15.1%, Germany 8.1%, France 5.3%, Switzerland 4.2% (2010)


 $61.63 billion (2010 est.)
$62.95 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing

Imports - Partners:

 UK 37.7%, US 13.8%, Germany 7.6%, Netherlands 5.6%, China 4.1% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $2.115 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$2.154 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $2.357 trillion (30 June 2011)
$2.253 trillion (30 September 2010)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - Abroad:

 $286.2 billion (31 September 2010)
$264.6 billion (31 December 2009)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - At Home:

 $228 billion (31 September 2010 est.)
$236.2 billion (31 December 2009)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Euro to Any Currency

Euros (EUR) per US dollar -
0.755 (2010)
0.7198 (2009)
0.6827 (2008)
0.7345 (2007)
0.7964 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 2.078 million (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 4.702 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: modern digital system using cable and microwave radio relay

Domestic: system privatized but dominated by former state monopoly operator; increasing levels of broadband access particularly in urban areas

International: country code - 353; landing point for the Hibernia-Atlantic submarine cable with links to the US, Canada, and UK; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Broadcast Media:

 Publicly-owned broadcaster Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) operates 2 TV stations; commercial television stations are available; about 75% of households utilize multi-channel satellite and TV services that provide access to a wide range of stations; RTE operates 4 national radio stations and has launched digital audio broadcasts on several stations; a number of commercial broadcast stations operate at the national, regional, and local levels (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 9, FM 106, shortwave 0 (1998)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 4 (many repeaters) (2008)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 1.339 million (2010)

Internet Users:

 3.042 million (2009)

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 39 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 16
Over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 5
Under 914 m: 5 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 2
Under 914 m: 21 (2010)


 Gas 1,888 km (2010)


 Total: 3,237 km
Broad gauge: 1,872 km 1.600-m gauge (37 km electrified)
Narrow gauge: 1,365 km 0.914-m gauge (operated by the Irish Peat Board to transport peat to power stations and briquetting plants) (2008)


 Total: 96,036 km
Paved: 96,036 km (includes 896 km of expressways) (2010)


 956 km (pleasure craft only) (2010)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 28
By type: cargo 25, chemical tanker 2, container 1
Foreign-owned: 5 (Norway 3, US 2)
Registered in other countries: 21 (Bahamas 3, Bermuda 2, Cyprus 3, Isle of Man 1, Kazakhstan 1, Malta 1, Netherlands 7, Panama 1, Slovakia 1, Sweden 1) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 Cork, Dublin, Shannon Foynes, Waterford

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Military Branches:

 Irish Defense Forces (IDF; Oglaigh na h-Eireann): Army, Naval Service, Air Corps (2011)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 17-25 years of age for male and female voluntary military service (17-27 years of age for the Naval Service); enlistees 16 years of age can be recruited for apprentice specialist positions; 17-35 years of age for the Reserve Defense Forces (RDF); maximum obligation 12 years (5 years IDF, 7 years RDF); EU citizenship or 5-year residence in Ireland required (2010)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 1,179,125
Females age 16-49: 1,163,728 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 977,631
Females age 16-49: 965,900 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 28,564
Female: 27,197 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 0.9% of GDP (2005 est.)

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Disputes - International:

 Ireland, Iceland, and the UK dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm

Illicit Drugs:

 Transshipment point for and consumer of hashish from North Africa to the UK and Netherlands and of European-produced synthetic drugs; increasing consumption of South American cocaine; minor transshipment point for heroin and cocaine destined for Western Europe; despite recent legislation, narcotics-related money laundering - using bureaux de change, trusts, and shell companies involving the offshore financial community - remains a concern

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Last Updated: December 2011

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