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Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
, standing on the banks of the
River Lagan The River Lagan (; Ulster Scots: ''Lagan Wattèr'') is a major river in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom ...

River Lagan
on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
and the second-largest on the island of
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
. It had a population of 343,542 . Belfast suffered greatly during the violence that accompanied the
partition of Ireland The partition of Ireland ( ga, críochdheighilt na hÉireann) was the process by which the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state that existed be ...
, and especially during the more recent conflict known as
the Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethnonationalism, is a form of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation A na ...
: in the 1970s and 1980s it was one of the world's most dangerous cities, with a homicide rate around 31 per 100,000. By the early 19th century, Belfast was a major
port A port is a maritime law, maritime facility comprising one or more Wharf, wharves or loading areas, where ships load and discharge Affreightment, cargo and passengers. Although usually situated on a sea coast or estuary, ports can a ...

port
. It played an important role in the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
in Ireland, becoming briefly the biggest
linen Linen () is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is very strong, absorbent, and dries faster than cotton. Because of these properties, linen is comfortable to wear in hot weather and is valued for use in garments. It also h ...

linen
-producer in the world, earning it the nickname "
Linenopolis Linenopolis was a nickname applied to the city of Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and t ...
". By the time it was granted
city statusCity status is a symbolic and legal designation given by a national or subnational government. A municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-governmen ...

city status
in 1888, it was a major centre of Irish linen production,
tobacco Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the ' of the , and the general term for any product prepared from the of these plants. of tobacco are known, but the chief commercial crop is . The more potent variant is also used in som ...

tobacco
-processing and rope-making. Shipbuilding was also a key industry; the
Harland and Wolff Harland & Wolff is a shipyard A shipyard (also called a dockyard) is a place where are and repaired. These can be s, military vessels, s or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance and b ...
shipyard, which built the , was the world's largest shipyard. Belfast has a major aerospace and missiles industry.
Industrialisation Industrialisation ( alternatively spelled industrialization) is the period of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society An agrarian society, or agricultural society, is any community whose economy is b ...

Industrialisation
, and the inward migration it brought, made Belfast Northern Ireland's biggest city. Following the partition of Ireland in 1922, Belfast became the seat of government for Northern Ireland. Belfast's status as a global industrial centre ended in the decades after the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. Belfast is still a port with commercial and industrial docks, including the Harland and Wolff shipyard, dominating the
Belfast Lough Belfast Lough is a large, intertidal sea inlet on the east coast of Northern Ireland. At its head is the city and Belfast Harbour, port of Belfast, which sits at the mouth of the River Lagan. The lough opens into the North Channel (Great Brit ...
shoreline. It is served by two airports:
George Best Belfast City Airport George Best Belfast City Airport is a single-runway airport An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport. Airports often have facilities to park and maintain aircraft, and a control tower. A ...
, from the city centre, and
Belfast International Airport Belfast International Airport is an airport northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Formerly known as ''Aldergrove Airport'', after the nearby village of Aldergrove, County Antrim, Aldergrove. In 2018, over 6.2 million passengers travelled ...
west of the city. The Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) listed Belfast as a Gamma +
global city A global city, also called a power city, world city, alpha city or world center, is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1 ...
in 2020.


Name

The name Belfast derives from the Irish ', later spelt '. The word ' means "mouth" or "river-mouth" while ' is the genitive singular of ' and refers to a
sandbar File:WayaWayasewa.jpg, A tidal sandbar connecting the islands of Waya Island, Waya and Wayasewa of the Yasawa Islands, Fiji In oceanography, geomorphology, and Earth science, geoscience, a shoal is a natural submerged ridge, bank (geography), ...
or tidal
ford Ford commonly refers to: * Ford Motor Company The Ford Motor Company, commonly known as Ford, is an American multinational automaker that has its main headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit (strait) , nicknames ...
across a river's mouth. The name therefore translates literally as "(river) mouth of the sandbar" or "(river) mouth of the ford". The sandbar formed at the confluence (at present-day Donegall Quay) of two rivers: the , which flows into Belfast Lough, and the Lagan's tributary the Farset. This area became the hub around which the original settlement developed. The Irish name ' is shared by a
County Mayo County Mayo (; ga, Contae Mhaigh Eo, meaning "Plain of the yew trees") is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was f ...
townland A townland ( ga, baile fearainn; Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ''Ulstèr-Scotch'', ...
which has the anglicised name ''Belfarsad''. An alternative interpretation of the name, "mouth of
he river The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
of the sandbar", would allude to the River Farset, which flows into the Lagan where the sandbar was located. and John O'Donovan favoured this interpretation. It seems clear, however, that the river itself took its name from the tidal crossing. In
Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ''Ulstèr-Scotch'', ga, Albanaigh na hUladh), also called Ulster Scots ...
, the name of the city can appear variously written as ''Bilfawst'', ''Bilfaust'' or ''Baelfawst'', although "Belfast" is also used.


History

The
county borough County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a cou ...
of Belfast was created when it was granted city status by
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
in 1888, and the city continues to straddle
County Antrim County Antrim (named after the town of Antrim, County Antrim, Antrim, ) is one of six Counties of Northern Ireland, counties that form Northern Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of and has a po ...
and
County Down County Down is one of the six . It covers an area of and has a population of 531,665. It borders to the north, the to the east, to the west, and across to the southwest. In the east of the county is and the . The largest town is , on th ...

County Down
.


Origins

The site of Belfast has been occupied since the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
. The Giant's Ring, a 5,000-year-old
henge There are three related types of Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Hu ...
, is located near the city, and the remains of
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
hill fort A hillfort is a type of earthwork used as a fortified A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically ...
s can still be seen in the surrounding hills. Belfast remained a small settlement of little importance during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
.
John de Courcy {{Infobox noble , image = Sir John de Courcy (1150-1219).jpg , caption = , alt = , more = no , succession = , reign = , predecessor = , successor = , ...
built a castle on what is now Castle Street in the city centre in the 12th century, but this was on a lesser scale and not as strategically important as
Carrickfergus Castle Carrickfergus Castle (from the Irish ''Carraig Ḟergus'' or "cairn of Fergus", the name "Fergus" meaning "strong man") is a Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, No ...
to the north, which was built by de Courcy in 1177. The O'Neill clan had a presence in the area. In the 14th century, Cloinne Aodha Buidhe, descendants of Aodh Buidhe O'Neill, built Grey Castle at Castlereagh, now in the east of the city. Conn O'Neill of the Clannaboy O'Neills owned vast lands in the area and was the last inhabitant of Grey Castle, one remaining link being the Conn's Water river flowing through east Belfast.


The Early Town

Belfast became a substantial settlement in the 17th century after being established as an English town by
Sir Arthur Chichester Arthur Chichester, 1st Baron Chichester (May 1563 – 19 February 1625), (known between 1596 and 1613 as Sir Arthur Chichester), of Carrickfergus in Ireland, was an English administrator and soldier who served as Lord Deputy of Ireland from 160 ...
. As it grew with the port, and with textile manufacture, the English element was overwhelmed by the influx of Scottish Presbyterians. As "Dissenters" from the established Church of Ireland communion, the Presbyterians were conscious of sharing, if only in part, the
disabilities A disability is any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities or effectively interact with the world around them (socially or materially). These conditions, or impairments, may be cognitive Cognition () ...
of Ireland's largely dispossessed
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...
majority. When, in the
American War of Independence The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen American colonies of British America British America comprised the colon ...
, Belfast Lough was raided by the privateer,
John Paul Jones John Paul Jones (born John Paul; July 6, 1747 July 18, 1792) was a Scottish-American naval captain who was the United States' first well-known naval commander in the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–17 ...

John Paul Jones
, the townspeople assembled their own Volunteer militia. This emboldened a spirit a radical disaffection. Further enthused by the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
, the Volunteers and townspeople rallied in support of
Catholic emancipation #REDIRECT Catholic emancipation Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the kingdoms of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of ...
and "a more equal representation of the people" in the Irish Parliament. The two
MPs A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) ...
Belfast returned to Dublin had remained nominees of the Chichesters ( Marquesses of Donegall). In the face of the Ascendancy's intransigence, these were demands taken up by the
Society of United Irishmen The Society of United Irishmen was a sworn association in the Kingdom of Ireland formed in the wake of the French Revolution to secure "an equal representation of all the people" in a national government. Despairing of constitutional reform, i ...

Society of United Irishmen
formed at a meeting in the town addressed by
Theobald Wolfe Tone Theobald Wolfe Tone, posthumously known as Wolfe Tone (20 June 176319 November 1798), was a leading Irish revolutionary figure and one of the founding members of the United Irishmen, a republican society that revolted against British rule in ...
. In the expectation of French assistance the Society organised a republican insurrection, defeated to the north and south of Belfast, at Antrim and Ballynahinch, in
1798 Events January–June * January – Eli Whitney Eli Whitney Jr. (December 8, 1765January 8, 1825) was an American inventor, widely known for inventing the cotton gin, one of the key inventions of the Industrial Revolution that shape ...
. Evidence of this period of Belfast's growth can still be seen in the oldest areas of the city, known as the Entries.


The Industrial City

Rapid industrial growth in the nineteenth century drew in landless Catholics from outlying rural and western districts, most settling to the west of the town. The plentiful supply of cheap labour helped attract the English and Scottish capital to Belfast, but it was also a cause of insecurity. Protestant workers organised to protect "their" jobs giving a new lease of life in the town to the once largely rural
Orange Order The Loyal Orange Institution, commonly known as the Orange Order, is an international Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protesta ...
. Sectarian tensions were heightened by movements to repeal the Acts of Union and to restore a Parliament in
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_ ...

Dublin
. Given the progressive enlargement of the British electoral franchise, this would have had an overwhelming Catholic majority and, it was widely believed, interests inimical to the Protestant and industrial north. In 1864 and 1886 the issue had helped trigger deadly sectarian riots. Sectarian tension was not in itself unique to Belfast: it was shared with Liverpool and Glasgow, cities that following the Great Famine had also experienced large scale Irish Catholic immigration. But also common to this "industrial triangle" were traditions of labour militancy. In 1919, workers in all three cities struck for a ten-hour reduction in the working week. In Belfast—notwithstanding the political friction caused by
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
's electoral triumph in the south—this involved some 60,000 workers, Protestant and Catholic, in a four-week walk-out. In a demonstration of their resolve not to submit to a Dublin parliament, in 1912
Belfast City Hall Belfast City Hall ( ga, Halla na Cathrach Bhéal Feirste; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ''Bilfawst Citie Haw'') is the civic building of Belfast City Council located in Donegall Square, Belfast, Northern Ireland. It faces North and effecti ...

Belfast City Hall
unionists presented the
Ulster Covenant Ulster's Solemn League and Covenant, commonly known as the Ulster Covenant, was signed by nearly 500,000 people on and before 28 September 1912, in protest against the Third Home Rule Bill introduced by the British Government The Governm ...

Ulster Covenant
, which, with an associated Declaration for women, was to accumulate over 470,000 signatures. This was followed by the drilling and eventual arming of a 100,000 strong
Ulster Volunteer Force The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is an Ulster loyalism, Ulster loyalist paramilitary group. Formed in 1965, it first emerged in 1966. Its first leader was Gusty Spence, a former British Army soldier from Northern Ireland. The group undertook T ...
. The crisis was abated by the onset of the
Great War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...

Great War
, the sacrifices of the UVF in which continue to be commemorated in the city ( Somme Day) by unionist and loyalist organisations. In 1921, as the greater part of Ireland seceded as the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
, Belfast became the capital of the six counties remaining as
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
in the United Kingdom. In 1932 the devolved parliament for the region was housed in new buildings at Stormont on the eastern edge of the city. In 1920–21, as the two parts of Ireland drew apart, up to 500 people were killed in disturbances in Belfast, the bloodiest period of strife in the city until
the Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethnonationalism, is a form of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation A na ...
of the late 1960s onwards. Belfast was heavily bombed during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. Initial raids were a surprise as the city was believed to be outside of the range of German bomber planes. In one raid, in 1941, German bombers killed around one thousand people and left tens of thousands homeless. Apart from London, this was the greatest loss of life in a night raid during the
Blitz Blitz, German for "lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the sudden flow of electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and m ...
.


The Troubles

Belfast has been the capital of Northern Ireland since its establishment in 1921 following the
Government of Ireland Act 1920 The Government of Ireland Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 67) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer ...
. It had been the scene of various episodes of sectarian conflict between its Catholic and Protestant populations. These opposing groups in this conflict are now often termed
republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
and
loyalist Loyalism, in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdo ...
respectively, although they are also loosely referred to as '
nationalist Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of people),Anthony D. Smith, Smith, Anthony. ''Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History''. Polity (publisher), Polity, ...
' and ' unionist'. The most recent example of this conflict was known as the Troubles – a civil conflict that raged from around 1969 to 1998. Belfast saw some of the worst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, particularly in the 1970s, with rival paramilitary groups formed on both sides. Bombing, assassination and street violence formed a backdrop to life throughout the Troubles. In December 1971, 15 people, including two children, were killed when the
Ulster Volunteer Force The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is an Ulster loyalism, Ulster loyalist paramilitary group. Formed in 1965, it first emerged in 1966. Its first leader was Gusty Spence, a former British Army soldier from Northern Ireland. The group undertook T ...
(UVF) bombed McGurk's Bar, the greatest loss of life in a single incident in Belfast. Loyalist paramilitaries including the UVF and the
Ulster Defence Association The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary Paramilitary forces usually tend to wear similar but different uniforms to the military, for instance gray "urban camouflage". A paramilitary organization (also li ...
(UDA) said that the killings they carried out were in retaliation for the IRA campaign. Most of their victims were Catholics with no links to the Provisional IRA. A particularly notorious group, based on the
Shankill Road , former_names = , part_of = B39 , namesake = , type = , owner = , maint = Transport NI Transport NI is the public body responsible for ...
in the mid-1970s, became known as the
Shankill Butchers The Shankill Butchers were an Ulster loyalist Ulster loyalism is a strand of Ulster unionism associated with working class Ulster Protestants in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ul ...
. The
Provisional IRA The Irish Republican Army (IRA; ), also known as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, and informally as the Provos, was an Irish republican paramilitary Paramilitary forces usually tend to wear similar but different uniforms to the mili ...
detonated 22 bombs within the confines of Belfast city centre on 21 July 1972, on what is known as Bloody Friday, killing nine people. During the Troubles the Europa Hotel suffered 36 bomb attacks becoming known as "the most bombed hotel in the world". In all, over 1,600 people were killed in political violence in the city between 1969 and 2001.


21st century

Belfast city centre Belfast City Centre is the central business district A central business district (CBD) is the commercial and business center of a city. It contains commercial space and offices. In larger cities, it is often synonymous with the city's "financi ...
has undergone expansion and regeneration since the late 1990s, notably around Victoria Square. In late 2018, it was announced that Belfast would undergo a £500 million urban regeneration project known as "Tribeca" on a large city centre site. However, tensions and civil disturbances still occur despite the 1998 peace agreement, including sectarian riots and paramilitary attacks. Belfast and the were together named the best place to visit in 2018 by
Lonely Planet Lonely Planet is an Australian travel guide book A guide book or travel guide is "a book of information about a place designed for the use of visitors or tourists". It will usually include information about sights, accommodation, restauran ...

Lonely Planet
. Tourist numbers have increased since the end of
The Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethnonationalism, is a form of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation A na ...
, boosted in part by newer attractions such as
Titanic Belfast ''Titanic'' Belfast is a visitor attraction opened in 2012, a monument to Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest ci ...

Titanic Belfast
and tours of locations used in the
HBO Home Box Office (HBO) is an American pay television Pay television also known as subscription television, premium television or, when referring to an individual service, a premium channel, refers to subscription-based television Tel ...
television series ''
Game of Thrones ''Game of Thrones'' is an American fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots a ...

Game of Thrones
''.


Governance

Belfast was granted
borough status Borough status is granted by royal charter to local government districts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The status is purely honorary, and does not give any additional powers to the Borough Council, council or inhabitants of the district. ...
by
James VI and I James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy, constitutional form of gover ...

James VI and I
in 1613 and official
city status City status is a symbolic and legal designation given by a national or subnational government. A municipality may receive city status because it already has the qualities of a city, or because it has some special purpose. Historically, city status ...
by
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
in 1888. Since 1973 it has been a
local government district The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguish from unofficial city districts) are a level of subnational division of England used for the purposes of local government. As the str ...
under local administration by
Belfast City Council Belfast City Council ( ga, Comhairle Cathrach Bhéal Feirste) is the with responsibility for part of the city of , the capital and largest city of . The Council serves an estimated population of 333,871 (2011), the largest of any district coun ...
. Belfast is represented in both the
British House of Commons The House of Commons (domestically known as the Commons) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizon ...
and in the
Northern Ireland Assembly The Northern Ireland Assembly ( ga, Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots: ''Norlin Airlan Assemblie'') often referred to by the metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase ...
. For elections to the
European Parliament The European Parliament (EP) is one of three Legislature, legislative branches of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legi ...

European Parliament
, Belfast was within the Northern Ireland constituency.


Local government

Belfast City Council is the
local councilLocal council may refer to: Political subdivision * Local council (Israel) * Local council (Jordan) * Local councils of Malta * An elected authority in the local government in the United Kingdom * An elected authority in the local government in Aus ...
with responsibility for the city. The city's elected officials are the
Lord Mayor of Belfast The Lord Mayor of Belfast is the leader and chairperson of Belfast City Council Belfast City Council ( ga, Comhairle Cathrach Bhéal Feirste) is the local authority with responsibility for part of the city of Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is ...
, Deputy Lord Mayor and
High Sheriff A high sheriff is a ceremonial officer for each shrieval county of England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England an ...
who are elected from among 60
councillors A councillor is a member of a local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers specifically to a level of ...
. The first Lord Mayor of Belfast was Daniel Dixon, who was elected in 1892. The
Lord Mayor Lord mayor is a title of a mayor In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official An official is someone who holds an office (function or mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual working space with it) in an organization or ...
for 2019–20 is John Finucane
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
, while the Deputy Lord Mayor is an
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI; ga, Páirtí Comhghuaillíochta Thuaisceart Éireann) is a liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by count ...
councillor. The Lord Mayor's duties include presiding over meetings of the council, receiving distinguished visitors to the city, representing and promoting the city on the national and international stage. In 1997, unionists lost overall control of Belfast City Council for the first time in its history, with the
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI; ga, Páirtí Comhghuaillíochta Thuaisceart Éireann) is a liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by count ...
gaining the balance of power between
nationalists Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of people),Anthony D. Smith, Smith, Anthony. ''Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History''. Polity (publisher), Polity, ...
and unionists. This position was confirmed in four subsequent council elections, with mayors from Sinn Féin and the
Social Democratic and Labour Party The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) ( ga, Páirtí Sóisialta Daonlathach an Lucht Oibre) is a social democracy, social-democratic and Irish nationalism, Irish nationalist list of political parties in Northern Ireland, political party ...
(SDLP), both of whom are nationalist parties, and the cross-community Alliance Party regularly elected since. The first nationalist Lord Mayor of Belfast was Alban Maginness of the SDLP, in 1997.


Northern Ireland Assembly and Westminster

As Northern Ireland's capital city, Belfast is host to the
Northern Ireland Assembly The Northern Ireland Assembly ( ga, Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots: ''Norlin Airlan Assemblie'') often referred to by the metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase ...
at Stormont, the site of the
devolved Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), st ...

devolved
legislature for Northern Ireland. Belfast is divided into four
Northern Ireland Assembly The Northern Ireland Assembly ( ga, Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots: ''Norlin Airlan Assemblie'') often referred to by the metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase ...
and UK parliamentary constituencies: Belfast North, Belfast West, Belfast South and Belfast East. All four extend beyond the city boundaries to include parts of Castlereagh,
Lisburn Lisburn (; "Lisburn/Lios na gCearrbhach"
.
and
Newtownabbey Newtownabbey ( ) is a large settlement north of Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and ...
districts. In the , Belfast elected 20
Members of the Legislative Assembly Member may refer to: * Military jury, referred to as "Members" in military jargon * Element (mathematics), an object that belongs to a mathematical set * In object-oriented programming, a member of a class ** Field (computer science), entries in a ...
(MLAs), 5 from each
constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or electorate, is a subdivision of a larger state St ...
. Belfast elected 7
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
, 5 DUP, 2
SDLP The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) ( ga, Páirtí Sóisialta Daonlathach an Lucht Oibre) is a social-democratic and Irish nationalist political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete ...
, 3 Alliance Party, 1 UUP, 1
Green Green is the color between blue and yellow on the visible spectrum. It is evoked by light which has a dominant wavelength of roughly 495570 Nanometre, nm. In subtractive color systems, used in painting and color printing, it is created by ...
and 1 PBPA MLAs. In the 2017 UK general election, Belfast elected one MP from each constituency to the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...
at Westminster, London. This comprised 3 DUP and 1 Sinn Féin. In the
2019 UK general election The 2019 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday, 12 December 2019. The Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party, having failed to obtain a majority in the 2017 United Kingdom general election, 2017 general election, had faced Parl ...
, the DUP lost two of their seats in Belfast; to Sinn Féin in North Belfast and to the SDLP in South Belfast.


Geography

Belfast is at the western end of Belfast Lough and at the mouth of the River Lagan giving it the ideal location for the shipbuilding industry that once made it famous. When the ''
Titanic RMS ''Titanic'' was a British passenger liner Liner or LINER may refer to: Line drawing * , a type of makeup * , a porous-tip pen with its own ink source * used in engraving * A used by coach painters Linings * , a noise-damping ...

Titanic
'' was built in Belfast in 1911–1912,
Harland and Wolff Harland & Wolff is a shipyard A shipyard (also called a dockyard) is a place where are and repaired. These can be s, military vessels, s or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance and b ...
had the largest shipyard in the world. Belfast is situated on Northern Ireland's eastern
coast The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of and contains 97% of . Anot ...

coast
at . A consequence of this northern latitude is that it both endures short winter days and enjoys long summer evenings. During the
winter solstice The winter solstice, also called the hibernal solstice, occurs when either of Earth's geographical pole, poles reaches its maximum axial tilt, tilt away from the Sun. This happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern Hemisphere, Nort ...

winter solstice
, the shortest day of the year, local sunset is before 16:00 while sunrise is around 08:45. This is balanced by the
summer solstice The summer solstice, also known as estival solstice or midsummer Midsummer is the period of time in the middle of the summer. The exact dates vary among different cultures, but is primarily held close to the summer solstice The summer solst ...

summer solstice
in June, when the sun sets after 22:00 and rises before 05:00. In 1994, a
weir A weir or low head dam is a barrier across the width of a river that alters the flow characteristics of water and usually results in a change in the height of the river level. They are also used to control the flow of water for outlets of lake ...

weir
was built across the river by the
Laganside Corporation The Laganside Corporation was a non-departmental public body formed by the Laganside Development (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 with the goal of regenerating large sections of land in Belfast, Northern Ireland adjacent to the River Lagan. This de ...
to raise the average water level so that it would cover the unseemly mud flats which gave Belfast its name (). The area of Belfast Local Government District is . The
River Farset The River Farset (''An Fhearsaid'' or ''Abhainn na Feirste'' in Irish language, Irish) is a river in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which gave the city its name. It is a late tributary of the River Lagan. Course It is on the County Antrim side of ...
is also named after this
silt Silt is granular material A granular material is a conglomeration of discrete solid, macroscopic scale, macroscopic particles characterized by a loss of energy whenever the particles interact (the most common example would be friction when gra ...
deposit (from the Irish ''feirste'' meaning "sand spit"). Originally a more significant river than it is today, the Farset formed a dock on High Street until the mid 19th century. Bank Street in the
city centre A city centre is the commercial, cultural and often the historical, political, and geographic heart of a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and ...
referred to the river bank and Bridge Street was named for the site of an early Farset bridge. Superseded by the River Lagan as the more important river in the city, the Farset now languishes in obscurity, under High Street. There are no less than twelve other minor rivers in and around Belfast, namely the Blackstaff, the Colin, the Connswater, the Cregagh, the Derriaghy, the Forth, the Knock, the Legoniel, the Loop, the Milewater, the Purdysburn and the Ravernet. The city is flanked on the north and northwest by a series of hills, including ,
Black Mountain Black Mountain may refer to: Places Australia * Black Mountain (Australian Capital Territory), a mountain in Canberra * Black Mountain, New South Wales, a village in Armidale Regional Council, New South Wales * Black Mountain, Queensland, a small t ...
and
Cavehill Cave Hill or Cavehill is a rocky hill overlooking the city of Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the Uni ...

Cavehill
, thought to be the inspiration for
Jonathan Swift Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish Anglo-Irish () is a term which was more commonly used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of ...
's ''
Gulliver's Travels ''Gulliver's Travels'', or ''Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships'' is a 1726 prose satire Satire is a of the , , and s, usually in ...

Gulliver's Travels
''. When Swift was living at Lilliput Cottage near the bottom of Belfast's Limestone Road, he imagined that the Cavehill resembled the shape of a sleeping giant safeguarding the city. The shape of the giant's nose, known locally as ''Napoleon's Nose'', is officially called McArt's Fort probably named after Art O'Neill, a 17th-century chieftain who controlled the area at that time. The Castlereagh Hills overlook the city on the southeast.


Climate

As with the vast majority of the rest of Ireland, Belfast has a
temperate In geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populati ...
oceanic climate An oceanic climate, also known as a maritime climate or marine climate, is the Köppen classification of climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the deg ...
(''Cfb'' in the
Köppen climate classification The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification Climate classification is a way of categorizing the world's s. A climate classification may correlate closely with a category, as climate is a major infl ...
), with a narrow range of temperatures and rainfall throughout the year. The climate of Belfast is significantly milder than most other locations in the world at a similar latitude, due to the warming influence of the
Gulf Stream The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension the North Atlantic Drift The North Atlantic Current (NAC), also known as North Atlantic Drift and North Atlantic Sea Movement, is a powerful warm western boundary current Boundary curren ...
. There are currently five weather observing stations in the Belfast area:
Helen's Bay Helen's Bay is a village A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet (place), hamlet but smaller than a town (although the word is often used to describe both hamlets and smaller towns), with a populati ...
, Stormont, Newforge, Castlereagh, and Ravenhill Road. Slightly further afield is Aldergrove Airport. The highest temperature recorded at any official weather station in the Belfast area was at Shaw's Bridge on 12 July 1983. The city gets significant precipitation (greater than 1mm) on 157 days in an average year with an average annual rainfall of , less than areas of northern England or most of
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
, but higher than
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_ ...

Dublin
or the south-east coast of Ireland. As an urban and coastal area, Belfast typically gets snow on fewer than 10 days per year. The absolute maximum temperature at the weather station at Stormont is , set during July 1983. In an average year the warmest day will rise to a temperature of with a day of or above occurring roughly once every two in three years. The absolute minimum temperature at Stormont is , during January 1982, although in an average year the coldest night will fall no lower than with air frost being recorded on just 26 nights. The lowest temperature to occur in recent years was on 22 December 2010. The nearest weather station for which sunshine data and longer term observations are available is
Belfast International Airport Belfast International Airport is an airport northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Formerly known as ''Aldergrove Airport'', after the nearby village of Aldergrove, County Antrim, Aldergrove. In 2018, over 6.2 million passengers travelled ...
( Aldergrove). Temperature extremes here have slightly more variability due to the more inland location. The average warmest day at Aldergrove for example will reach a temperature of , ( higher than Stormont) and 2.1 days should attain a temperature of or above in total. Conversely the coldest night of the year averages (or lower than Stormont) and 39 nights should register an air frost. Some 13 more frosty nights than Stormont. The minimum temperature at Aldergrove was , during December 2010.


Areas and districts

The townlands of Belfast are its oldest surviving land divisions and most pre-date the city. Belfast expanded very rapidly from being a market town to becoming an industrial city during the course of the 19th century. Because of this, it is less an agglomeration of villages and towns which have expanded into each other, than other comparable cities, such as
Manchester Manchester () is the most-populous city and metropolitan borough A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguis ...

Manchester
or
Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Ro ...

Birmingham
. The city expanded to the natural barrier of the hills that surround it, overwhelming other settlements. Consequently, the arterial roads along which this expansion took place (such as the Falls Road or the
Newtownards Road The A20 is a road in County Down in Northern Ireland. It runs from Belfast to Newtownards and on to Portaferry. Beginning as the Newtownards Road at the junction of Bridge End close to Belfast city centre, the road runs in an easterly direction ...
) are more significant in defining the districts of the city than nucleated settlements. Parts of Belfast are segregated by walls, commonly known as "
peace lines The peace lines or peace walls are a series of separation barriers in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, variously described as a country, provin ...
", erected by the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
after August 1969, and which still divide 14 districts in the inner city. In 2008 a process was proposed for the removal of the 'peace walls'. In June 2007, a £16 million programme was announced which will transform and redevelop streets and public spaces in the city centre. Major arterial roads (
quality bus corridor Quality Bus Corridors (QBC, ga, Mórlána Bus) are an initiative to give bus priority, dedicated road space and traffic signal priority to buses in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Ireland in order to reduce journey times and improve service consis ...
) into the city include the Antrim Road, Shore Road, Belfast, Shore Road, Holywood Road, Newtownards Road, Castlereagh Road, Cregagh Road, Ormeau Road, Malone Road, Lisburn Road, Falls Road, Springfield Road, Belfast, Springfield Road,
Shankill Road , former_names = , part_of = B39 , namesake = , type = , owner = , maint = Transport NI Transport NI is the public body responsible for ...
, and Crumlin Road, Four Winds. Belfast city centre is divided into two postcode districts, ''BT1'' for the area lying north of the City Hall, and ''BT2'' for the area to its south. The industrial estate and docklands ''BT3''. The rest of the Belfast post town is divided in a broadly clockwise system from ''BT3'' in the north-east round to ''BT15'', with ''BT16'' and ''BT17'' further out to the east and west respectively. Although ''BT'' derives from ''Belfast'', the BT postcode area extends across the whole of Northern Ireland. Since 2001, boosted by increasing numbers of tourists, the city council has developed a number of cultural Belfast quarters, quarters. The Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, Cathedral Quarter takes its name from St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, St Anne's Cathedral (Church of Ireland) and has taken on the mantle of the city's key cultural locality. It hosts a yearly Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, visual and performing arts festival. Custom House Square is one of the city's main outdoor venues for free concerts and street entertainment. The Gaeltacht Quarter, Belfast, Gaeltacht Quarter is an area around the Falls Road in west Belfast which promotes and encourages the use of the Irish language. The Queen's Quarter, Belfast, Queen's Quarter in south Belfast is named after Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University. The area has a large student population and hosts the annual Belfast Festival at Queen's, Belfast International Arts Festival each autumn. It is home to Belfast Botanic Gardens, Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Museum, which was reopened in 2009 after major redevelopment. Golden Mile (Belfast), The Golden Mile is the name given to the mile between Belfast City Hall and Queen's University. Taking in Dublin Road, Great Victoria Street, Belfast, Great Victoria Street, Shaftesbury Square and Bradbury Place, it contains some of the best bars and restaurants in the city. Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the nearby Lisburn Road has developed into the city's most exclusive shopping strip. Finally, the Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Titanic Quarter covers of reclaimed land adjacent to Port of Belfast, Belfast Harbour, formerly known as ''Queen's Island''. Named after ''RMS Titanic'', which was built here in 1912, work has begun which promises to transform some former shipyard land into "one of the largest waterfront developments in Europe". Plans include apartments, a riverside entertainment district, and a major Titanic-themed museum. In its 2018 report on Best Places to Live in Britain, ''The Sunday Times'' named Ballyhackamore, "the brunch capital of Belfast", as the best place in Northern Ireland. The district of Ballyhackamore has even acquired the name "Ballysnackamore" due to the preponderance of dining establishments in the area.


Cityscape


Architecture

The architectural style of Belfast's public buildings range from a small set of Georgian architecture, Georgian buildings, many examples of Victorian architecture, Victorian, including the main ''Lanyon Building'' at Queen's University Belfast and the Linenhall Library, (both designed by Charles Lanyon, Sir Charles Lanyon). There are also many examples of Edwardian Baroque architecture, Edwardian, such as the City Hall, to modern, such as the Waterfront Hall. The City Hall was finished in 1906 and was built to reflect Belfast's city status, granted by
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
in 1888. The Edwardian Baroque architecture, Edwardian architectural style of Belfast City Hall influenced the Victoria Memorial (India), Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, Calcutta, India, and Durban City Hall in South Africa. The dome is high and figures above the door state "Hibernia encouraging and promoting the Commerce and Arts of the City". Among the city's grandest buildings are two former banks: Ulster Bank in Waring Street (built in 1860) and Northern Bank, in nearby Donegall Street (built in 1769). The Royal Courts of Justice, Belfast, Royal Courts of Justice in Chichester Street are home to Northern Ireland's Courts of Northern Ireland, Supreme Court. Many of Belfast's oldest buildings are found in the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, Cathedral Quarter area, which is currently undergoing redevelopment as the city's main cultural and tourist area. Windsor House, high, has 23 floors and is the second tallest building (as distinct from structure) in Ireland. Work has started on the taller Obel Tower, which already surpasses the height of Windsor House in its unfinished state. The ornately decorated The Crown Liquor Saloon, Crown Liquor Saloon, designed by Joseph Anderson in 1876, in Great Victoria Street is one of only two pubs in the UK that are owned by the List of National Trust properties in Northern Ireland, National Trust (the other is the George Inn, Southwark in London). It was made internationally famous as the setting for the classic film, ''Odd Man Out'', starring James Mason. The restaurant panels in the Crown Bar were originally made for ''Britannic'', the sister ship of the ''Titanic'', built in Belfast. The Harland and Wolff shipyard has two of the largest dry docks in Europe, where the giant cranes, Samson and Goliath (cranes), Samson and Goliath stand out against Belfast's skyline. Including the Waterfront Hall and the Odyssey Arena, Belfast has several other venues for performing arts. The architecture of the Grand Opera House (Belfast), Grand Opera House has an oriental theme and was completed in 1895. It was bombed several times during the Troubles but has now been restored to its former glory. Lyric Players' Theatre, The Lyric Theatre, (re-opened 1 May 2011 after undergoing a rebuilding programme) the only full-time producing theatre in the country, is where film star Liam Neeson began his career. The Ulster Hall (1859–1862) was originally designed for grand dances but is now used primarily as a concert and sporting venue. David Lloyd George, Lloyd George, Charles Stewart Parnell, Parnell and Patrick Pearse all attended political rallies there. A legacy of
the Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethnonationalism, is a form of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation A na ...
are the many '
peace lines The peace lines or peace walls are a series of separation barriers in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, variously described as a country, provin ...
' or 'Peace Walls, peace walls' that still act as barriers to reinforce ethno-sectarian residential segregation in the city. In 2017, th
Belfast Interface Project
published a study entitled
Interface Barriers, Peacelines & Defensive Architecture
that identified 97 separate walls, barriers and interfaces in Belfast. A history of the development of these structures can be found at th
Peacewall Archive


Parks and gardens

Sitting at the mouth of the River Lagan where it becomes a deep and sheltered lough, Belfast is surrounded by mountains that create a micro-climate conducive to horticulture. From the Victorian Botanic Gardens in the heart of the city to the heights of Cave Hill Country Park, the great expanse of Lagan Valley Regional Park to Colin Glen, Belfast contains an abundance of parkland and forest parks. Parks and gardens are an integral part of Belfast's heritage, and home to an abundance of local wildlife and popular places for a picnic, a stroll or a jog. Numerous events take place throughout including festivals such as Rose Week and special activities such as bird watching evenings and great beast hunts. Belfast has over forty public parks. The Forest of Belfast is a partnership between government and local groups, set up in 1992 to manage and conserve the city's parks and open spaces. They have commissioned more than 30 public sculptures since 1993. In 2006, the Belfast City Council, City Council set aside £8 million to continue this work. The Belfast Naturalists' Field Club was founded in 1863 and is administered by National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland. With an average of 670,000 visitors per year between 2007 and 2011, one of the most popular parks is Belfast Botanic Gardens, Botanic Gardens in the Queen's Quarter, Belfast, Queen's Quarter. Built in the 1830s and designed by Charles Lanyon, Sir Charles Lanyon, Botanic Gardens Palm House is one of the earliest examples of a curvilinear and cast iron Greenhouse, glasshouse. Other attractions in the park include the Tropical Ravine, a humid jungle glen built in 1889, rose gardens and public events ranging from live opera broadcasts to pop concerts. U2 played here in 1997. Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, to the south of the city centre, attracts thousands of visitors each year to its International Rose Garden. Rose Week in July each year features over 20,000 blooms. It has an area of of meadows, woodland and gardens and features a Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Garden, a Japanese garden, a walled garden, and the Golden Crown Fountain commissioned in 2002 as part of the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II, Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations. In 2008, Belfast was named a finalist in the Large City (200,001 and over) category of the Royal Horticultural Society, RHS Britain in Bloom competition along with London Borough of Croydon and Sheffield. Belfast Zoo is owned by Belfast City Council. The council spends £1.5 million every year on running and promoting the zoo, which is one of the few local government-funded zoos in the UK and Ireland. The zoo is one of the top visitor attractions in Northern Ireland, receiving more than 295,000 visitors a year. The majority of the animals are in danger in their natural habitat. The zoo houses more than 1,200 animals of 140 species including Asian elephants, Barbary lions, Malayan sun bears (one of the few in the United Kingdom), two species of penguin, a family of western lowland gorillas, a troop of common chimpanzees, a pair of red pandas, a pair of Goodfellow's tree-kangaroos and Francois' langurs. The zoo also carries out important conservation work and takes part in European and international breeding programmes which help to ensure the survival of many species under threat.


Demography

At the United Kingdom 2001 census, 2001 census, the population was 276,459, while 579,554 people lived in the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area. This made it the list of largest United Kingdom settlements by population, fifteenth-largest city in the United Kingdom, but the list of conurbations in the United Kingdom, eleventh-largest conurbation. Belfast experienced a huge growth in population in the first half of the 20th century. This rise slowed and peaked around the start of the Troubles with the 1971 census showing almost 600,000 people in the Belfast Urban Area. Since then, the inner city numbers have dropped dramatically as people have moved to swell the Greater Belfast suburb population. The 2001 census population in the same Urban Area had fallen to 277,391 people, with 579,554 people living in the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area. The 2001 census recorded 81,650 people from Catholic backgrounds and 79,650 people from Protestant backgrounds of working age living in Belfast. The population density in 2011 was 24.88 people/hectare (compared to 1.34 for the rest of Northern Ireland). As with many cities, Belfast's inner city is currently characterised by the elderly, students and single young people, while families tend to live on the periphery. Socio-economic areas radiate out from the Belfast City Centre, Central Business District, with a pronounced wedge of affluence extending out the Malone Road and Upper Malone Road to the south. An area of deprivation is found in the inner parts of the north and west of the city. The areas around the Falls Road, Ardoyne and New Lodge, Belfast, New Lodge (Catholic nationalist) and the
Shankill Road , former_names = , part_of = B39 , namesake = , type = , owner = , maint = Transport NI Transport NI is the public body responsible for ...
(Protestant loyalist) are among the ten most deprived wards in Northern Ireland. Despite a period of relative peace, most areas and districts of Belfast still reflect the divided nature of Northern Ireland as a whole. Many areas are still highly segregated along ethnic, political and religious lines, especially in working-class neighbourhoods. These zones – Irish Catholic, Catholic/Irish Republicanism in Northern Ireland, republican on one side and Protestant/
loyalist Loyalism, in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdo ...
on the other – are invariably marked by Northern Ireland flags issue, flags, graffiti and Northern Irish murals, murals. Segregation has been present throughout the history of Belfast but has been maintained and increased by each outbreak of violence in the city. This escalation in segregation, described as a "ratchet effect", has shown little sign of decreasing. The highest levels of segregation in the city are in west Belfast with many areas greater than 90% Catholic. Opposite but comparatively high levels are seen in the predominantly Protestant east Belfast. Areas where segregated working-class areas meet are known as interface areas and sometimes marked by
peace lines The peace lines or peace walls are a series of separation barriers in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, variously described as a country, provin ...
. When violence flares, it tends to be in interface areas. Ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland, Ethnic minority communities have been in Belfast since the 1930s. The largest groups are Poles, Chinese and Indians. Since the expansion of the European Union, numbers have been boosted by an influx of Eastern European immigrants. Census figures (2011) showed that Belfast has a total non-white population of 10,219 or 3.3%, while 18,420 or 6.6% of the population were born outside the UK and Ireland. Almost half of those born outside the UK and Ireland live in Belfast South (UK Parliament constituency), south Belfast, where they comprise 9.5% of the population. The majority of the estimated 5,000 Muslims and 200 Hindu families living in Northern Ireland live in the Greater Belfast area.


2011 Census

On Census Day (27 March 2011) the usually resident population of Belfast Local Government District (2014) was 333,871 accounting for 18.44% of the NI total. This represents a 1.60% increase since the 2001 Census. On Census Day 27 March 2011, in Belfast Local Government District (2014), considering the resident population: * 3.23% were from an ethnic minority population and the remaining 96.77% were white (including Irish Traveller); * 48.82% belong to or were brought up in the Catholic faith and 42.47% belong to or were brought up in a 'Protestant and Other Christian (including Christian related)'denomination; and * 43.32% indicated that they had a British national identity, 35.10% had an Irish national identity and 26.92% had a Northern Irish national identity. Respondents could indicate more than one national identity On Census Day 27 March 2011, in Belfast Local Government District (2014), considering the population aged 3 years old and over: * 13.45% had some knowledge of Irish; * 5.23% had some knowledge of Ulster-Scots; and * 4.34% did not have English as their first language. On Census Day 27 March 2011, considering the population aged 16 years old and over: * 25.56% had a degree or higher qualification; while * 41.21% had no or low (Level 1*) qualifications. Level 1 is 1–4 O Levels/CSE/GCSE (any grades) or equivalent On Census Day 27 March 2011, considering the population aged 16 to 74 years old: * 63.84% were economically active, 36.16% were economically inactive; * 52.90% were in paid employment; and * 5.59% were unemployed, of these 43.56% were long-term unemployed. Long-term unemployed are those who stated that they have not worked since 2009 or earlier File:Population Density Belfast City Council 2011 Census.png, Population density File:Religion Belfast City Council 2011 Census.png, Percentage Catholic or brought up Catholic File:National Identity Belfast City Council 2011 Census.png, Most commonly stated national identity File:Born Outside UK And Ireland Belfast City Council 2011 Census.png, Percentage born outside the UK and Ireland


Economy

When the population of Belfast town began to grow in the 17th century, its economy was built on commerce. It provided a market for the surrounding countryside and the natural inlet of
Belfast Lough Belfast Lough is a large, intertidal sea inlet on the east coast of Northern Ireland. At its head is the city and Belfast Harbour, port of Belfast, which sits at the mouth of the River Lagan. The lough opens into the North Channel (Great Brit ...
gave the city its own port. The port supplied an avenue for trade with Great Britain and later Europe and North America. In the mid-17th century, Belfast exported beef, butter, hides, tallow and corn and it imported coal, cloth, wine, brandy, paper, timber and tobacco. Around this time, the linen trade in Northern Ireland blossomed and by the middle of the 18th century, one fifth of all the linen exported from Ireland was shipped from Belfast. The present city however is a product of the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
. It was not until industry transformed the linen and shipbuilding trades that the economy and the population boomed. By the turn of the 19th century, Belfast had transformed into the largest linen producing centre in the world, earning the nickname "
Linenopolis Linenopolis was a nickname applied to the city of Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and t ...
". Belfast harbour was dredged in 1845 to provide deeper berths for larger ships. Donegall Quay was built out into the river as the harbour was developed further and trade flourished. The
Harland and Wolff Harland & Wolff is a shipyard A shipyard (also called a dockyard) is a place where are and repaired. These can be s, military vessels, s or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance and b ...
shipbuilding firm was created in 1861, and by the time the ''
Titanic RMS ''Titanic'' was a British passenger liner Liner or LINER may refer to: Line drawing * , a type of makeup * , a porous-tip pen with its own ink source * used in engraving * A used by coach painters Linings * , a noise-damping ...

Titanic
'' was built, in 1912, it had become the largest shipyard in the world. Short Brothers plc is a British aerospace company based in Belfast. It was the first aircraft manufacturing company in the world. The company began its association with Belfast in 1936, with Short & Harland Ltd, a venture jointly owned by Shorts and Harland and Wolff. Now known as Shorts Bombardier it works as an international aircraft manufacturer located near the Port of Belfast. The rise of mass-produced and cotton clothing following World War I were some of the factors which led to the decline of Belfast's international linen trade. Like many British cities dependent on traditional heavy industry, Belfast suffered serious decline since the 1960s, exacerbated greatly in the 1970s and 1980s by the Troubles. More than 100,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since the 1970s. For several decades, Northern Ireland's fragile economy required significant public support from the Exchequer, British exchequer of up to £4 billion per year.


After the Troubles

The Provisional Irish Republican Army#End of the armed campaign, IRA ceasefire in 1994 and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 have given investors increased confidence to invest in Belfast. This has led to a period of sustained economic growth and large-scale redevelopment of the city centre. Developments include Victoria Square, Belfast, Victoria Square, the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, Cathedral Quarter, and the Laganside with the Odyssey (Belfast), Odyssey complex and the landmark Waterfront Hall. Other major developments include the regeneration of the Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Titanic Quarter, and the erection of the Obel Tower, a skyscraper set to be the tallest tower on the island. Today, Belfast is Northern Ireland's educational and commercial hub. In February 2006, Belfast's unemployment rate stood at 4.2%, lower than both the Northern Ireland and the UK average of 5.5%. Over the past 10 years employment has grown by 16.4%, compared with 9.2% for the UK as a whole. Northern Ireland's peace dividend has led to soaring property prices in the city. In 2007, Belfast saw house prices grow by 50%, the fastest rate of growth in the UK. In March 2007, the average house in Belfast cost £91,819, with the average in south Belfast being £141,000. In 2004, Belfast had the lowest owner occupation rate in Northern Ireland at 54%. Peace has boosted the numbers of tourists coming to Belfast. There were 6.4 million visitors in 2005, which was a growth of 8.5% from 2004. The visitors spent £285.2 million, supporting more than 15,600 jobs. Visitor numbers rose by 6% to reach 6.8 million in 2006, with tourists spending £324 million, an increase of 15% on 2005. The city's two airports have helped make the city one of the most visited weekend destinations in Europe. Belfast has been the fastest-growing economy of the thirty largest cities in the UK over the past decade, a new economy report by Howard Spencer has found. ''"That's because [of] the fundamentals of the UK economy and [because] people actually want to invest in the UK,"'' he commented on that report. BBC Radio 4's World reported furthermore that despite higher levels of corporation tax in the UK than in the Republic. There are "huge amounts" of foreign investment coming into the country. ''The Times'' wrote about Belfast's growing economy: "According to the region's development agency, throughout the 1990s Northern Ireland had the fastest-growing regional economy in the UK, with GDP increasing 1 per cent per annum faster than the rest of the country. As with any modern economy, the service sector is vital to Northern Ireland's development and is enjoying excellent growth. In particular, the region has a booming tourist industry with record levels of visitors and tourist revenues and has established itself as a significant location for call centres." Since the ending of the region's conflict tourism has boomed in Northern Ireland, greatly aided by low cost. ''Der Spiegel'', a German weekly magazine for politics and economy, titled Belfast as ''The New Celtic Tiger'' which is "open for business".


Infrastructure

Belfast saw the worst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, with nearly half of the total deaths in the conflict occurring in the city. However, since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, there has been significant urban regeneration in the city centre including Victoria Square, Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Queen's Island and Laganside as well as the Odyssey complex and the landmark Waterfront Hall. The city is served by two airports: The
George Best Belfast City Airport George Best Belfast City Airport is a single-runway airport An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport. Airports often have facilities to park and maintain aircraft, and a control tower. A ...
adjacent to Belfast Lough and
Belfast International Airport Belfast International Airport is an airport northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Formerly known as ''Aldergrove Airport'', after the nearby village of Aldergrove, County Antrim, Aldergrove. In 2018, over 6.2 million passengers travelled ...
which is near Lough Neagh. Queen's University of Belfast is the main university in the city. The Ulster University also maintains a campus in the city, which concentrates on fine art, design and architecture. Belfast is one of the constituent cities that makes up the Dublin-Belfast corridor region, which has a population of just under 3 million.


Utilities

Most of Belfast's water is supplied via the Mourne Conduit, Aquarius pipeline from the Silent Valley Reservoir in
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, created to collect water from the Mourne Mountains. The rest of the city's water is sourced from Lough Neagh, via ''Dunore Water Treatment Works'' in County Antrim. The citizens of Belfast pay for their water in their Rates (tax), rates bill. Plans to bring in additional water tariffs have been deferred by Northern Ireland Assembly, devolution in May 2007. Belfast has approximately of sanitary sewer, sewers, which are currently being replaced in a project costing over £100 million and due for completion in 2009. Power is provided from a number of List of power stations in Northern Ireland, power stations via Northern Ireland Electricity, NIE Networks Limited transmission lines. Phoenix Natural Gas, Phoenix Natural Gas Ltd. started supplying customers in Larne and Greater Belfast with natural gas in 1996 via the newly constructed Scotland-Northern Ireland pipeline. Rates (tax), Rates in Belfast (and the rest of Northern Ireland) were reformed in April 2007. The discrete Capital (economics), capital value system means rates bills are determined by the capital value of each domestic property as assessed by the ''Valuation and Lands Agency''. The recent dramatic rise in house prices has made these reforms unpopular.


Health care

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust is one of five trusts that were created on 1 April 2007 by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Department of Health. Belfast contains most of Northern Ireland's regional specialist centres. The Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Royal Victoria Hospital is an internationally renowned centre of excellence in trauma care and provides specialist trauma care for all of Northern Ireland. It also provides the city's specialist Neurosurgery, neurosurgical, ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, ENT, and dentistry services. The Belfast City Hospital is the regional specialist centre for haematology and is home to a cancer centre that rivals the best in the world. The Mary G McGeown Regional Nephrology Unit at the Belfast City Hospital, City Hospital is the kidney transplant centre and provides regional renal services for Northern Ireland. Musgrave Park Hospital in south Belfast specialises in Orthopedic surgery, orthopaedics, rheumatology, sports medicine and Rehabilitation psychology, rehabilitation. It is home to Northern Ireland's first Acquired Brain Injury Unit, costing £9 million and opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in May 2006. Other hospitals in Belfast include the Mater Infirmorum Hospital, Mater Hospital in north Belfast and the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Children's Hospital.


Transport

Belfast is a relatively car-dependent city by European standards, with an extensive road network including the M2 motorway (Northern Ireland), M2 and M22 motorway (Northern Ireland), M22 motorway route. A 2005 survey of how people travel in Northern Ireland showed that people in Belfast made 77% of all journeys by car, 11% by public transport and 6% on foot. It showed that Belfast has 0.70 cars per household compared to figures of 1.18 in the East and 1.14 in the West of Northern Ireland. A road improvement-scheme in Belfast began early in 2006, with the upgrading of two junctions along the Westlink Belfast, Westlink dual-carriageway to grade separation, grade-separated standard. The improvement scheme was completed five months ahead of schedule in February 2009, with the official opening taking place on 4 March 2009. Commentators have argued that this may create a bottleneck at York Street, the next at-grade intersection, until that too is upgraded. On 25 October 2012 the stage 2 report for the York Street intersection was approved and in December 2012 the planned upgrade moved into stage 3 of the development process. If successfully completing the necessary statutory procedures, work on a grade separated junction to connect the Westlink to the M2/M3 motorways is scheduled to take place between 2014 and 2018, creating a continuous link between the M1 and M2, the two main motorways in Northern Ireland. Hackney carriage, Black taxis are common in the city, operating on a Share taxi, share basis in some areas. These are outnumbered by Taxicabs of the United Kingdom#Private hire ('minicabs'), private hire taxis. Bus and rail public transport in Northern Ireland is operated by subsidiaries of Translink (Northern Ireland), Translink. Bus services in the city proper and the nearer suburbs are operated by Metro (Belfast), Translink Metro, with services focusing on linking residential districts with the city centre on 12
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s running along main radial roads, More distant suburbs are served by Ulsterbus. Northern Ireland Railways provides Belfast Suburban Rail, suburban services along three lines running through Belfast's northern suburbs to Carrickfergus, Larne and Larne Harbour railway station, Larne Harbour, eastwards towards Bangor, County Down, Bangor and south-westwards towards Lisburn and Portadown railway station, Portadown. This service is known as the Belfast Suburban Rail system. Belfast is linked Belfast-Derry railway line, directly to Coleraine railway station, Coleraine, Portrush railway station, Portrush and Londonderry railway station, Derry. Belfast has a direct rail connection with
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called ''Enterprise (train), Enterprise'' which is operated jointly by NIR and Iarnród Éireann, the state railway company of the Republic of Ireland. There are no rail services to cities in other countries of the United Kingdom, due to the Irish Sea fixed crossing, lack of a bridge or tunnel connecting Great Britain to the island of
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. There is, however, a combined ferry and rail ticket between Belfast and cities in Great Britain, which is referred to as ''Sailrail''. In April 2008, the Department for Regional Development reported on a plan for a light-rail system, similar to that in
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. The consultants said Belfast does not have the population to support a light rail system, suggesting that investment in bus-based rapid transit would be preferable. The study found that bus-based rapid transit produces positive economic results, but light rail does not. The report by Atkins & KPMG, however, said there would be the option of migrating to light rail in the future should the demand increase. The city has two airports:
Belfast International Airport Belfast International Airport is an airport northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Formerly known as ''Aldergrove Airport'', after the nearby village of Aldergrove, County Antrim, Aldergrove. In 2018, over 6.2 million passengers travelled ...
offering, domestic, European and international flights such as Orlando operated seasonally by Virgin Atlantic. The airport is located northwest of the city, near Lough Neagh, while the
George Best Belfast City Airport George Best Belfast City Airport is a single-runway airport An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport. Airports often have facilities to park and maintain aircraft, and a control tower. A ...
, which is closer to the city centre by train from Sydenham railway station, Northern Ireland, Sydenham on the Bangor, County Down, Bangor Line, adjacent to Belfast Lough, offers UK domestic flights and a few European flights. In 2005, Belfast International Airport was the 11th busiest commercial airport in the UK, accounting for just over 2% of all UK terminal passengers while the George Best Belfast City Airport was the 16th busiest and had 1% of UK terminal passengers. The Belfast – Liverpool route is the busiest domestic flight route in the UK excluding London with 555,224 passengers in 2009. Over 2.2 million passengers flew between Belfast and London in 2009. Belfast has a large Port of Belfast, port used for exporting and importing goods, and for passenger ferry services. Stena Line runs regular routes to Cairnryan in Scotland using its conventional vessels—with a crossing time of around 2 hours 15 minutes. Until 2011 the route went to Stranraer and used inter alia a HSS (High Speed Service) vessel—with a crossing time of around 90 minutes. Stena Line also operates a route to Liverpool. A seasonal sailing to Douglas, Isle of Man is operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. The Glider (Belfast), Glider bus service is a new form of transport in Belfast. Introduced in 2018, it is a rapid transit system linking East Belfast, West Belfast and the Titanic Quarter from the City Centre. Using articulated buses, the £90 million service saw a 17% increase in its first month in Belfast, with 30,000 more people using the Gliders every week. The service is being recognised as helping to modernise the city's public transport. National Cycle Route 9 to Newry, which will eventually connect with Dublin, starts in Belfast.


Culture

Belfast's population is evenly split between its Protestant and Catholic residents. These two distinct cultural communities have both contributed significantly to the city's culture. Throughout the Troubles, Belfast artists continued to express themselves through poetry, art and music. In the period since the Belfast Agreement, Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Belfast has begun a social, economic and cultural transformation giving it a growing international cultural reputation. In 2003, Belfast had an unsuccessful bid for the 2008 European Capital of Culture. The bid was run by an independent company, ''Imagine Belfast'', who boasted that it would "make Belfast the meeting place of Europe's legends, where the meaning of history and belief find a home and a sanctuary from caricature, parody and oblivion." According to ''The Guardian'' the bid may have been undermined by the History of Belfast, city's history and volatile politics. In 2004–05, art and cultural events in Belfast were attended by 1.8 million people (400,000 more than the previous year). The same year, 80,000 people participated in culture and other arts activities, twice as many as in 2003–04. A combination of relative peace, international investment and an active promotion of arts and culture is attracting more tourists to Belfast than ever before. In 2004–05, 5.9 million people visited Belfast, a 10% increase from the previous year, and spent £262.5 million. The Ulster Orchestra, based in Belfast, is Northern Ireland's only full-time symphony orchestra and is well renowned in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1966, it has existed in its present form since 1981, when the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra was disbanded. The music school of Queen's University is responsible for arranging a notable series of lunchtime and evening concerts, often given by renowned musicians which are usually given in The Harty Room at the university (University Square). Musicians and bands who have written songs about or dedicated to Belfast include U2, Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, Simple Minds, Elton John, Rogue Male (band), Rogue Male, Katie Melua, Boney M, Paul Muldoon, Stiff Little Fingers, Nanci Griffith, Glenn Patterson, Orbital (band), Orbital, James Taylor, Fun Boy Three, Spandau Ballet, The Police, Barnbrack, Gary Moore, Neon Neon, Toxic Waste (band), Toxic Waste, Energy Orchard, and Billy Bragg. Belfast has a longstanding underground club scene which was established in the early 1980s. Belfast has the highest concentration of Irish-speakers in Northern Ireland. Like all areas of the island of Ireland outside of the Gaeltacht, the Irish language in Belfast is not that of an unbroken intergenerational transmission. Due to community activity in the 1960s, including the establishment of the Shaw's Road, Shaw's Road Gaeltacht community, the expanse in the Irish language arts, and the advancements made in the availability of Irish medium education throughout the city, it can now be said that there is a 'mother-tongue' community of speakers. The language is heavily promoted in the city and is particularly visible in the Falls Road area, where the signs on both the iconic black taxis and on the public buses are bilingual. Projects to promote the language in the city are funded by various sources, notably Foras na Gaeilge, an all-Ireland body funded by both the Irish and British governments. There are a number of Irish language Primary schools and one secondary school in Belfast. The provision of certain resources for these schools (for example, such as the provision of textbooks) is supported by the charitable organisation TACA. In late August 2018, at least three groups were vying for the right to purchase the 5,500 RMS Titanic relics that were an asset of the bankrupt Premier Exhibitions. One of the offers was by a group including the National Maritime Museum and National Museums Northern Ireland, with assistance by James Cameron. Oceanographer Robert Ballard said he favored this bid since it would ensure that the memorabilia would be permanently displayed in Belfast (where the Titanic was built) and in Greenwich. A decision as to the outcome was to be made by a United States district court judge.


Media

Belfast is the home of the ''Belfast Telegraph'', ''Irish News'', and ''The News Letter'', the oldest English language, English-language daily newspaper in the world still in publication. The city is the headquarters of BBC Northern Ireland, ITV (TV network), ITV station Ulster Television, UTV and commercial radio stations Q Radio Belfast, Q Radio and U105. Two community radio stations, Blast 106 and Irish-language station Raidió Fáilte, broadcast to the city from west Belfast, as does Queen's Radio, a student-run radio station which broadcasts from Queen's University Belfast Students' Union, Queen's University Students' Union. One of Northern Ireland's two community TV stations, NvTv, is based in the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, Cathedral Quarter of the city. There are two independent cinemas in Belfast: the Queen's Film Theatre and the Strand Cinema, which host screenings during the Belfast Film Festival and the Belfast Festival at Queen's. Broadcasting only over the Internet is Homely Planet, the Cultural Radio Station for Northern Ireland, supporting community relations. The city has become a popular film location; The Paint Hall at Harland and Wolff has become one of the UK Film Council's main studios. The facility comprises four stages of . Shows filmed at The Paint Hall include the film ''City of Ember'' (2008) and HBO's ''
Game of Thrones ''Game of Thrones'' is an American fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots a ...

Game of Thrones
'' series (beginning in late 2009). In November 2011, Belfast became the smallest city to host the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards, MTV Europe Music Awards. The event was hosted by Selena Gomez and celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Jessie J, Hayden Panettiere, and Lady Gaga travelled to Northern Ireland to attend the event, held in the Odyssey Arena.


Sports

Belfast has several notable sports teams playing a diverse variety of sports such as association football, football, Gaelic games, Rugby football, rugby, cricket, and ice hockey. The Belfast Marathon is run annually on May Day, and attracted 20,000 participants in 2011. The Northern Ireland national football team, ranked 23rd in August 2017 in the FIFA World Rankings, plays its home matches at Windsor Park. The 2017–18 NIFL Premiership, Irish League champions Crusaders F.C., Crusaders are based at Seaview (football ground), Seaview, in the north of the city. Other Northern Ireland football system#Senior, senior clubs are Glentoran F.C., Glentoran, Linfield F.C., Linfield, Cliftonville F.C., Cliftonville, Harland & Wolff Welders F.C., Harland & Wolff Welders and PSNI F.C., PSNI. Northern Ireland football system#Intermediate, Intermediate-level clubs are: Dundela F.C., Dundela, Newington Youth F.C., Newington Youth, Queen's University A.F.C., Queen's University and Sport & Leisure Swifts F.C., Sport & Leisure Swifts, who compete in the NIFL Premier Intermediate League; Albert Foundry F.C., Albert Foundry, Bloomfield F.C., Bloomfield, Colin Valley F.C., Colin Valley, Crumlin Star F.C., Crumlin Star, Dunmurry Rec., Dunmurry Young Men, East Belfast F.C., East Belfast, Grove United F.C., Grove United, Immaculata F.C., Immaculata, Iveagh United F.C., Iveagh United, Malachians F.C., Malachians, Orangefield Old Boys, Rosario Youth Club F.C., Rosario Youth Club, St Luke's F.C., St Luke's, St Patrick's Young Men F.C., St Patrick's Young Men, Shankill United F.C., Shankill United, Short Brothers F.C., Short Brothers and Sirocco Works F.C., Sirocco Works of the Northern Amateur Football League and Brantwood F.C., Brantwood and Donegal Celtic of the Ballymena & Provincial Football League, Ballymena & Provincial League. Belfast was the home town of former Manchester United F.C., Manchester United player George Best, the 1968 European Footballer of the Year, who died in November 2005. On the day he was buried in the city, 100,000 people lined the route from his home on the Cregagh Road to Roselawn cemetery. Since his death the George Best Belfast City Airport, City Airport was named after him and a trust has been set up to fund a memorial to him in the city centre. Belfast is home to over twenty Gaelic football and hurling clubs. Casement Park in west Belfast, home to the Antrim GAA, Antrim county teams, has a capacity of 32,000 which makes it the second largest Gaelic Athletic Association ground in Ulster. In May 2020, the foundation of East Belfast GAA returned Gaelic Games to unionist East Belfast after decades of its absence in the area. The current club president is Irish-language enthusiast Linda Ervine who comes from a unionist background in the area. The team currently plays in the Down Senior County League. The 1999 Heineken Cup champions Ulster Rugby play at Ravenhill Stadium in the south of the city. Belfast has four teams in rugby's All-Ireland League (rugby union), All-Ireland League: Belfast Harlequins in Division 1B; and Instonians, Queen's University RFC, Queen's University and Malone RFC, Malone in Division 2A. Belfast is home to the Stormont (cricket ground), Stormont cricket ground since 1949 and was the venue for the Irish cricket team's first ever One Day International (ODI) against England cricket team, England in 2006. In 2007, Pro Wrestling Ulster formed. This is wrestling promotion on the independent circuit, holding events and PPVs in Europa Hotel and Mandela Hall, The Mandela Hall. It runs to this day. Belfast is home to one of the biggest British ice hockey clubs, the Belfast Giants. The Giants were founded in 2000 and play their games at the 9,500 capacity Odyssey Arena, where crowds normally range from 4,000 to 7,000. Many ex-NHL players have featured on the Giants roster, none more famous than world superstar Theo Fleury. The Giants play in the 10-team professional Elite Ice Hockey League which is the top league in Britain. The Giants have been British ice hockey league champions, league champions 5 times, most recently in the 2018–19 season. The Belfast Giants are a huge brand in Northern Ireland and their increasing stature in the game led to the Belfast Giants playing the Boston Bruins of the NHL on 2 October 2010 at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, losing the game 5–1. Other significant sportspeople from Belfast include double world snooker champion Alex Higgins, Alex "Hurricane" Higgins and world champion boxers Wayne McCullough, Rinty Monaghan and Carl Frampton. Leander A.S.C is a well known swimming club in Belfast. Belfast produced the Formula One racing stars John Watson (racing driver), John Watson who raced for five different teams during his career in the 1970s and 1980s and Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine.


Notable people

Academia and science * John Stewart Bell, physicist * Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, astrophysicist * John Boyd Dunlop, inventor * William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, Lord Kelvin, physicist and engineer Arts and media * Anthony Boyle, actor * Sir Kenneth Branagh, actor * Ciaran Carson, writer * Frank Carson, comedian * Jamie Dornan, actor * Barry Douglas (musician), Barry Douglas, musician * Sir James Galway, musician * Eamonn Holmes, broadcaster * Brian Desmond Hurst, film director * Oliver Jeffers, artist * C. S. Lewis, author * Paula Malcomson, actress * Gerry McAvoy, musician and long time bass guitarist with Rory Gallagher * Gary Moore, guitarist * Van Morrison, singer-songwriter * Doc Neeson, singer-songwriter * Patricia Quinn, actress * Roy Walker (comedian), TV Gameshow Host Politics * Gerry Adams. politician * James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon, Lord Craigavon, former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland *Abba Eban (1915–2002), Israeli diplomat and politician, and President of the Weizmann Institute of Science * Chaim Herzog, former President of Israel * Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland * Peter Robinson (Northern Ireland politician), Peter Robinson, former First Minister of Northern Ireland * David Trimble, former First Minister of Northern Ireland, Nobel Peace Prize winner Sports * Paddy Barnes, boxer, Olympic Games Bronze Medalist * George Best, football player, Ballon D'or winner * Danny Blanchflower, football player and manager * Jackie Blanchflower, football player * Christopher Brunt, football player * Craig Cathcart, football player * P. J. Conlon, baseball player * Killian Dain, professional wrestler * Mal Donaghy, football player * Corry Evans, football player * Jonny Evans, football player * Dave Finlay, professional wrestler * Carl Frampton, boxer * Craig Gilroy, rugby union player * Alex Higgins, snooker player * Paddy Jackson, rugby union player * Jim Magilton, football player and manager * Sir Tony McCoy, horse racing jockey * Wayne McCullough, World Boxing Council, WBC World Champion Boxer, Olympic Games Silver Medalist, Patron of Northern Ireland Children's Hospice * Alan McDonald (association football), Alan McDonald, football player * Rory McIlroy, golfer * Sammy McIlroy, football player and manager * Owen Nolan, hockey player, Olympic gold medalist * Dame Mary Peters (athlete), Mary Peters, Olympic sportswoman and gold medalist * Tommy Robb (motorcyclist), Tommy Robb, Grand Prix motorcycle racing, Grand Prix motorcycle road racer * Pat Rice, football player and coach * Trevor Ringland, rugby union player * Gary Wilson (cricketer), Gary Wilson, cricketer Other * Patrick Carlin, Victoria Cross recipient * Shaw Clifton, former General of The Salvation Army * Dame Rotha Johnston, entrepreneur * James Joseph Magennis, Victoria Cross recipient * Jonathan Simms, victim of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), noted for unprecedented survival rate of a decade with the disease


Education

Belfast has two universities. Queen's University Belfast was founded in 1845 and is a member of the Russell Group, an association of 24 leading research-intensive universities in the UK. It is one of the largest universities in the UK with 25,231 undergraduate and postgraduate students spread over 250 buildings, 120 of which are listed as being of architectural merit. Ulster University, created in its current form in 1984, is a multi-centre university with a campus in the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, Cathedral Quarter of Belfast. The Belfast campus has a specific focus on Art and Design and Architecture, and is currently undergoing major redevelopment. The Jordanstown campus, just from Belfast city centre concentrates on engineering, health and social science. The Coleraine campus, about from Belfast city centre concentrates on a broad range of subjects. Course provision is broad – biomedical sciences, environmental science and geography, psychology, business, the humanities and languages, film and journalism, travel and tourism, teacher training and computing are among the campus strengths. The Magee College, Magee campus, about from Belfast city centre has many teaching strengths; including business, computing, creative technologies, nursing, Irish language and literature, social sciences, law, psychology, peace and conflict studies and the performing arts. The Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN) Web Service receives funding from both universities and is a rich source of information and source material on the Troubles as well as society and politics in Northern Ireland. Belfast Metropolitan College is a large further education college with three main campuses around the city, including several smaller buildings. Formerly known as Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education, it specialises in vocational education. The college has over 53,000 students enrolled on full-time and part-time courses, making it one of the largest further education colleges in the UK and the largest in the island of Ireland. The Belfast Education and Library Board was established in 1973 as the local council responsible for education, youth and library services within the city. In 2006, this board became part of the Education Authority for Northern Ireland. There are 184 primary, secondary and Grammar school, grammar schools in the city.


Tourism

Belfast is one of the most visited cities in the UK, and the second most visited on the island of Ireland. In 2008, 7.1 million tourists visited the city. Numerous popular tour bus companies and boat tours run there throughout the year, including tours based on the popular series
Game of Thrones ''Game of Thrones'' is an American fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots a ...

Game of Thrones
, which has had various filming locations around Northern Ireland. Frommer's, the American travel guidebook series, listed Belfast as the only United Kingdom destination in its ''Top 12 Destinations to Visit'' in 2009. The other listed destinations were Berlin, Germany, Berlin (Germany), Cambodia, Cape Town (South Africa), Cartagena, Colombia, Cartagena (Colombia), Istanbul (Turkey), the Lassen Volcanic National Park (US), Saqqara (Egypt), the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail (US), Waiheke Island (New Zealand), Washington, D.C. (US), and Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada). The Belfast City Council is currently investing into the complete redevelopment of the Titanic Quarter, which is planned to consist of apartments, hotels, and a riverside entertainment district. A major visitor attraction,
Titanic Belfast ''Titanic'' Belfast is a visitor attraction opened in 2012, a monument to Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest ci ...

Titanic Belfast
is a monument to Belfast's maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard, opened on 31 March 2012. It features a criss-cross of escalators and suspended walkways and nine high-tech galleries. They also hope to invest in a new modern transport system (including high-speed rail and others) for Belfast, with a cost of £250 million. 2017 was a great year for Belfast in terms of tourism with nearly 1.5 million trips being made to the city, generating around 5 million bed nights and incredible tourism revenue of 328 million pounds. In 2018, Belfast saw six new hotels being opened, with the biggest in Northern Ireland, the £53 million Grand Central Hotel Belfast officially open to the public. The other hotels included AC Marriot, Hampton By Hilton, EasyHotel, Maldron Belfast City Centre and Flint. The new hotels have helped to increase a further 1,000 bedrooms in the city. Belfast was successful in attracting many conferencing events, both national and international, to the city in 2018. Over 60 conferences took place that year with 30,000 people helping contribute to a record 45 million pounds for the local economy. There is a tourist information centre located at Donegall Square, Donegall Square North.


Twin towns – sister cities

Belfast City Council takes part in the Twin towns and sister cities, twinning scheme, and is twinned with the following sister cities: * Nashville, Tennessee, United States (since 1994) * Hefei, Anhui, Anhui Province, China (since 2005) * Boston, Massachusetts, United States (since 2014) * Shenyang, Liaoning, Liaoning Province, China (since 2016)


Freedom of the City

The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the City of Belfast.


Individuals

* Andrew Carnegie: 28 September 1910. * John Jordan (diplomat), Rt Hon Sir John Jordan : 28 September 1910. * Winston Churchill, Rt Hon Sir Winston Churchill : 16 December 1955. * Mary Peters (athlete), Lady Mary Peters : 2 November 2012. * Kenneth Branagh, Sir Kenneth Branagh: 30 January 2018.


Military Units

* The Royal Ulster Rifles: 6 February 1954. * The Royal Sussex Regiment: 1961.


Notes


References


Further reading

* Beesley, S. and Wilde, J. 1997. ''Urban Flora of Belfast''. Institute of Irish Studies & The Queen's University of Belfast. * Deane, C. Douglas. 1983. ''The Ulster Countryside.'' Century Books. * Gillespie, R. 2007. ''Early Belfast.'' Belfast Natural History & Philosophical Society in Association with Ulster Historical Foundation. . * Nesbitt, Noel. 1982. ''The Changing Face of Belfast.'' Ulster Museum, Belfast. Publication no. 183. * Pollock, V. and Parkhill, T. 1997. ''Belfast''. National Museums of Northern Ireland. * Scott, Robert. 2004. ''Wild Belfast: On Safari in the City.'' Blackstaff Press. . * Walker, B.M. and Dixon, H. 1984. ''Early Photographs from the Lawrence Collection in Belfast Town 1864–1880.'' The Friar's Bush Press, * Walker, B.M. and Dixon, H. 1983. ''No Mean City: Belfast 1880–1914.'' . * Connolly, S.J. Ed. 2012. Belfast 400 People Places and History. Liverpool University Press. * McCracken, E. 1971. ''The Palm House and Botanic Garden, Belfast''. Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. * McMahon, Sean. 2011. ''A Brief History of Belfast.'' The Brehon Press. Belfast. * Fulton, C. 2011. ''Coalbricks and Prefabs, Glimpses of Belfast in the 1950s.'' Thedoc Press. * O'Reilly, D. 2010. " Rivers of Belfast". Colourpoint Books. * Weatherall, Norman (text) and Evans, David (paintings) 2002 ''South Belfast Terrace and Villa.'' Cottage Publications


External links


Belfast City Council
{{Authority control Belfast, Capital cities in the United Kingdom Cities in Northern Ireland Districts of Northern Ireland, 1972–2015 Districts of Northern Ireland, 2015-present Populated coastal places in the United Kingdom Port cities and towns in Northern Ireland Port cities and towns of the Irish Sea University towns in Northern Ireland