There’s a fascinating site online that I kind of tripped and fell into without meaning to. I’m glad I did though because they have some fantastic European map comparisons on display and like it or not, I’m going to share with you some of the more surprising facts I found there. Of course, with this writer being at home in Ireland, these observations are from the perspective of this wet and windy outpost.
So to kick off then, there are the highest temperatures ever recorded by country. Well, in Ireland, the highest temperature ever recorded was 33.3℃ whereas the UK record is 38.5℃. The Scandinavians are even hotter than us Irish with Norway, (35.6℃), Sweden, (38℃), Finland, (37.2℃) and little Denmark, (36.4℃). In fact, aside from Iceland, (30.5℃), we Irish have the lowest highest recorded temperature in all of Europe. Best at something at last!
As my medium of communication is the internet, I wondered how we Paddies did in the connection-speeds stakes. Measured in average speed of internet connection, (megabits per second), the UK is pretty high at 11.6. The Scandies of course roar along at 14.1 (Norway), 15.8 (Sweden) and 13.7 (Finland). Germany is 10.2, France 7.5, Spain 8.9, Italy 6.1 and wealthy Switzerland 14.9. But it’s the ‘Thick Micks’ who again come out best with 17.4 megabits per second. Who’d have thought we, of all people, would have the fastest connection to the net in the whole of Europe, maybe even the World?
Feeling on a bit of a role, I turned next to the booze naturally. I reckoned in terms of beer consumption in litres per year per capita we had a certain gold medal in the bag. I reckoned without the Austrians at 108, the Germans at 106, the Estonians at 102 and the Poles at 99, the pissheads! But we did come in a credible fifth though at 98 litres per year per capita. Mind you, the Brits were a miserable 69 and I’m not referring to anything of a sexual nature here. Of course, the French can’t hold their beer, we all know that. Only 30 litres per year per capita in Froggie-land but there’s a good reason for that in their case.
That reason is of course, the ‘vino-collapso’. The sexy French like their little tipple of wine, 53 litres of it per capita per year to be precise. Only the Portuguese pop the cork more often at 55 litres. Paddy likes a respectable 24 litres of it but the superior sophistication of the Brits means an even more soused 30 litres across the pond. Strangely, the Spanish are at a quite abstemious 17 litres, the Italians a mere 34 litres and the Germans even less than the British at 25 litres and they all produce the stuff. Incidentally, the average wine bottle holds 750ml so our Irish 24 litres per year per capita translates into 32 bottles per person per annum. Let’s see now, there’s four of us at home and I’m the only one who likes wine. So if I have mine and theirs, that’s 128 bottles a year for me, or a bottle every two or three days. Yup! That’s about right then!
There’s hardly a week goes by right now that we don’t hear of the immigrant problem in Europe. Sweden is certainly having that problem with 16.9% of the population there currently having been born elsewhere. Oddly enough, the Med countries of Spain, (12.4%), Italy (9.5%), and Greece, (11.2%) are quite low given, we are told, they are where the recent immigrant population is landing first. It’s clear the Poles want nothing to do with immigrants regardless of where they come from because their influx stands at a mere 1.6%. Even Russia is higher at 8.2%. The UK has traditionally been in the crosshairs of Johnny-foreigner looking for a place to hang his hat so they have a foreigner percentage of 13.4%, higher than France at 12%. But I was stunned to see little Ireland with the immigrant proportion of our population standing at 15.8%. Where are they all and what possessed them to come here FFS? Odd to report as well that we don’t seem to have any problems with the immigrants who do come here. Maybe they’re just enjoying the craic?
But maybe it is something more sinister than that. Ireland has long been plagued by emigration so when you look at the map of the number of people born in a given country but currently living abroad, measured as a percentage of the overall population, we Irish are the third highest at 18.8% in Europe, (behind Portugal at 22.3% & Lithuania at 18.9%). To put our 18.8% in perspective, our closest neighbour and friend, the UK, stands at 7.6%. Remember the PIGS countries from not too long ago? We were broke and the EU was thinking of introducing a lesser euro currency for us. Those countries in terms of emigration as a result were Portugal (22.3%) Ireland as mentioned (18.8%) Greece (8%) and Spain (2.7%). Must be things weren’t so bad in some non-Irish PIGS countries because they don’t seem to have been forced to seek work elsewhere. Incidentally, the French are the most reluctant to emigrate, at 3.3%.
Speaking of work, I was interested to see the average hours worked per worker including part-time workers. It seems the Greeks work the longest at 49 hours a week, (on average) followed by the Poles and Latvians at 37 hours. Again Paddy was up there with the Estonians and Lithuanians at 36 hours a week. The lazy Frogs can only manage a 28-hour week while the industrious Krauts are only industrious for 26 hours a week. Even the Italians and Spanish are at work for 33 hours in a given week. The Brits kick in at an acceptable 32 hour-week, the same as the Finns and Slovenians actually.
I have noted in these pages in the past that Ireland has become obsessively Dublin-centric. As if to dismiss this observation of mine, a friend from Dublin told me it was the same with London and the UK, meaning I suppose that if it is good enough for the Brits then it’s good enough for us. But then I look at the map of the percentage of the total population, (by Country), living in the metropolitan area of its Capital and London has 21% while Dublin holds a staggering 40% of the Irish population. I’ll rattle off a few others too for comparison, Paris 19%, Madrid 14%, Berlin 5%, Rome 7%, Warsaw 8%, Brussels 19%, Amsterdam 14% Stockholm 16%, Copenhagen 36% and Athens 35%, to name but a few. It would seem that we Paddies have seriously fucked it up in the smooth population distribution stakes at home.
So what did we learn from our maps about Ireland comparatively speaking? Well, most of us live in Dublin, we work damned hard and when we can’t find work, we fuck off somewhere else to get it. While we’re away, foreign laddies take our place here and don’t stick out too much. We drink a shed-load of beer and plenty of wine with it, we’re flyers on the interweb and it never gets too hot here.
Sounds like us alright! But do have a sconce at the ‘Jacub Marian” site yourself, you’ll like it.