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The PIIGS countries are Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain.  (In a more geographical order, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece.) 

I am quite certain that a main reason why the western (i.e., not formerly communist, such as the former Yugoslavia) southern European countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece - look at a map of Europe) are in such trouble financially (in terms of countries in the euro zone) is because they are very sunny and warm, which tends to bring out the laziness in people - so they try to make up the difference by borrowing.  And that is why including them in the euro was such a bad idea.  

The southern U.S., the other major first-world place in a warm climate, is different - it is part of the overall U.S. and has been for a long time, with the same currency, and the U.S. has a Protestant work ethic that originated in northern Europe, i.e., north of the southern European countries, in fact the Americans work the most hours per year of anyone in the Western industrialized world, on average, maybe with the exception of Japan, but I will note that even in the U.S., Florida is a haven for retirees; southern Europe, on the other hand, is actually separate countries and always has been at one level or another, with their own completely different norms and traditions relative to northern Europe. 

As for why Ireland makes the news because it is in trouble - it is in northern Europe, not southern Europe - it is because Ireland is in the euro, but has an economic system similar to England and America (compared to continental Europe), but has a much lower population than England or America, only a few million people, so the problems there tend to be magnified because they average out over far fewer people, and in fact, the main problems there are also due to a property bust after a property building boom in the mid-2000's.  In such a small country, how do you find a new buyer for the house when suddenly just about no one who doesn't already have a house can afford one anymore?