State consisting of 26 of the 32 counties of the island of Ireland. Includes all of the counties of the provinces Munster, Leinster and Connacht, as well as three counties of Ulster. The remaining six counties of Ulster make up Northern Ireland, which together with neighbouring island Great Britain and several other entities, form the United Kingdom.
The Republic of Ireland was not declared until 1948, although independence from Britain was achieved in 1921. Initially the state was known as the Irish Free State, and maintained a link with the British Crown through a Governor General. These ties were eroded over time, however, and the modern state was defined as an entirely independent entity in the Constitution of Ireland of 1937. This constitution defined the name of the state as "Éire", or "Ireland" in English. It also staked a territorial claim to the six counties of Northern Ireland, although this has recently been removed by referendum in favour of less contentious articles which declare the right of anyone born on the island of Ireland to be considered Irish or British, or both.
The state has its capital in Dublin. The government consists of a non-executive President, and a bicameral legislature: the upper house is called Seanad Éireann (senate) and the lower house is called Dáil Éireann (parliament). The system is modelled on the Parliament of the United Kingdom, although there are no hereditary peers in the upper house, and the President is directly elected by the people. The Prime Minister is known as An Taoiseach, and is elected by the Dáil. Election to the Dail is by Proportional Representation - Single Transferrable Vote in multi-seat constituencies.