CÉAD MÍLE FÁILTE, One Hundred Thousand Welcomes, says Ireland to International Students. With a reputation for natural beauty and friendliness, Republic of Ireland also has a long tradition of education. The Republic of Ireland covers 26 of the 32 counties and the remaining counties form Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom. Ireland has a strong link to North America and is also part of the European Union. Ireland has one of the youngest populations in the world with the average age of the population being 35.6 years.