Ireland is an island nation located in Western Europe northwest of the United Kingdom. It has a strategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe. The government system is a republic; parliamentary democracy. The chief of state is the president and the head of government is the Taoiseach (prime minister). Ireland has a mixed economic system which includes a variety of private freedom, combined with centralized economic planning and government regulation. Ireland is a member of the European Union (EU).