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 Urban area:483,418 Office for National Statistics (Belfast Urban Area defined in footnote 6, page 16 the pdf)Metropolitan area:579,276
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|dublin_distance_mi = 106
|dublin_direction = S
|unitary_northern_ireland = City Belfast
|country = Northern Ireland
|post_town = BELFAST
|postcode_area = BT
|postcode_district = BT1-BT17, BT29 (part ), BT36 (part ), BT58
|dial_code = 028
|constituency_westminster = Belfast NorthBelfast SouthBelfast EastBelfast West
|constituency_ni_assembly = Belfast NorthBelfast SouthBelfast EastBelfast West
|lieutenancy_northern_ireland = County AntrimCounty Down
|website =
|area_total_sq_mi = 44.4

"Belfast" () is the capital and the largest city in Northern Ireland, a constituent country the United Kingdom. It is the seat devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly. It is the largest urban area in the province Ulster, the second largest city on the island Ireland and the 15th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city Belfast has a population 267,500, and lies at the heart the Belfast urban area, which has a population 483,418. The Belfast metropolitan area has a total population 579,276. Belfast was granted city status in 1888.

Historically, Belfast has been a centre for the Irish linen industry (earning the nickname "Linenopolis"), tobacco production, rope-making and shipbuilding: the city"s main shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff, which built the ill-fated RMS Titanic, propelled Belfast onto the global stage in the early 20th century as the largest and most productive shipyard in the world. Belfast played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, establishing its place as a global industrial centre until the latter half the 20th century.

Industrialisation and the inward migration it brought made Belfast, if briefly, the largest city in Ireland at the turn the 20th century and the city"s industrial and economic success was cited by Ulster Unionist opponents Home Rule as a reason why Ireland should shun devolution and later why Ulster in particular would fight to resist it.

Today, Belfast remains a centre for industry, as well as the arts, higher education and business, a legal centre, and is the economic engine Northern Ireland. The city suffered greatly during the period disruption, conflict, and destruction called the Troubles, but latterly has undergone a sustained period calm, free from the intense political violence former years, and substantial economic and commercial growth. Belfast city centre has undergone considerable expansion and regeneration in recent years, notably around Victoria Square.

Belfast is served by two airports: Belfast International Airport to the north-west the city, and George Best Belfast City Airport in the east the city.

Belfast is also a major seaport, with commercial and industrial docks dominating the Belfast Lough shoreline, including the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard.

Belfast is a constituent city the Dublin-Belfast corridor with a population 3 million, comprising half the total population the island Ireland.


The name "Belfast" is derived from the Irish "Béal Feirsde", which was later spelled "Béal Feirste". The word "Béal" means "mouth" while "Feirsde/Feirste" is plural and refers to a sandbar or ford across a river"s mouth. The name would thus translate as "mouth ( the) sandbars" or "mouth ( the) fords". These sandbars formed where two rivers met (at what is now Donegall Quay) and flowed into Belfast Lough. This area was the hub around which the settlement developed.

It is a common misconception that Belfast was simply named after the River Farset, which flows through the city. However, it would appear that both the settlement and the river were named after these sandbar crossings.


Although the county borough Belfast was created when it was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888, the city continues to be viewed as straddling County Antrim and County Down.

The site Belfast has been occupied since the Bronze Age. The Giant"s Ring, a 5000-year-old henge, is located near the city, and the remains Iron Age hill forts can still be seen in the surrounding hills. Belfast remained a small settlement little importance during the Middle Ages. John de Courcy 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 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, Clan Aedh Buidh, descendants Hugh O"Neill built Grey Castle at Castlereagh, now in the east the city. Conn O"Neill also owned land in the area, one remaining link being the Conn"s Water river flowing through east Belfast.

Belfast became a substantial settlement in the 17th century after being established as a town by Sir Arthur Chichester, which was initially settled by Protestant English and Scottish migrants at the time the Plantation Ulster. (Belfast and County Antrim, however, did not form part the Plantation scheme.) In 1791, the Society United Irishmen was founded in Belfast, after Henry Joy McCracken and other prominent Presbyterians from the city invited Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell. to a meeting, after having read Tone"s "Argument on Behalf the Catholics Ireland". Belfast blossomed as a commercial and industrial centre in the 18th and 19th centuries and became Ireland"s pre-eminent industrial city. Industries thrived, including linen, rope-making, tobacco, heavy engineering and shipbuilding, and at the end the nineteenth century, Belfast briefly overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland. The Harland and Wolff shipyards became one the largest shipbuilders in the world, employing up to 35,000 workers. Belfast was heavily bombed during World War II. In one raid, in 1941, German bombers killed around one thousand people and left tens thousands homeless. Outside London, this was the greatest loss life in a night raid during the Blitz.

he Trouble

Belfast has been the capital Northern Ireland since its establishment in 1921 following the Government Ireland Act 1920. Since its emergence as a major city, it had been the scene various episodes sectarian conflict between its Roman Catholic and Protestant populations. These opposing groups in this conflict are now ten termed republican and loyalist respectively, although they are also referred to as "nationalist" and "unionist". The most recent example this is known as the Troubles - a civil conflict that raged from around 1969 to the late 1990s. Belfast saw some the worst the Troubles in Northern Ireland, particularly in the 1970s, with rival paramilitary groups forming on both sides. Bombing, assassination and street violence formed a backdrop to life throughout the Troubles. The Provisional IRA detonated twenty-two bombs, all in a confined area in the city centre in 1972, on what is known as "Bloody Friday", killing nine people. The IRA also killed hundreds other civilians and members the security forces. Loyalist paramilitaries the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Ulster Defence Association (UDA) claimed that the killings they carried out were in retaliation to the PIRA campaign. Most their victims were Roman Catholic civilians unconnected to the Provisional IRA. A particularly notorious group, based on the Shankill Road in the mid 1970s, became known as the Shankill Butchers. In all, over one thousand five hundred people were killed in political violence in the city from 1969 until 2001. Part the legacy the Troubles is that both republican and loyalist paramilitary groups in Belfast have become involved in organised crime and racketeering.

Belfast was granted borough status by James I in 1613 and ficial city status by Queen Victoria in 1888. Since 1973 it has been a local government district under local administration by Belfast City Council. Belfast is represented in both the British House Commons and in the Northern Ireland Assembly. For elections to the European Parliament, Belfast is within the Northern Ireland constituency.

ocal governmen

Belfast City Hall.
The city Belfast has a mayoral form municipal government. The city"s ficials are the Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and High Sheriff who are elected from among 51 councillors. The first Lord Mayor Belfast was Daniel Dixon, who was elected in 1892. As June 2009, the Lord Mayor Belfast is Alliance politician, Naomi Long, who is only the second woman Lord Mayor the city. Her duties include presiding over meetings the council, receiving distinguished visitors to the city, and representing and promoting the city on the national and international stage. Long replaces the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor, Tom Hartley.

In 1997, Unionists lost overall control Belfast City Council for the first time in its history, with the Alliance Party Northern Ireland gaining the balance power between Nationalists and Unionists. This position was confirmed in the council elections 2001 and 2005. Since then it has had three Nationalist mayors, two from the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and one from Sinn Féin. The first nationalist Lord Mayor Belfast was Alban Maginness the SDLP, in 1996.

In the 2005 local government elections, Belfast voters elected 51 councillors to Belfast City Council from the following political parties: 15 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), 14 Sinn Féin, 8 SDLP, 7 Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), 4 Alliance Party, 2 Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), and 1 Independent (a former deputy mayor who takes the UUP whip was a member the defunc loyalist paramilitary linked-Ulster Democratic Party).

orthern Ireland Assembly and Westminste

The Parliament Buildings at Stormont. Built in 1932 and home to the Northern Ireland Assembly.As Northern Ireland"s capital city, Belfast is host to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, the site the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. Belfast is divided into four Northern Ireland Assembly and UK parliamentary constituencies: North Belfast, West Belfast, South Belfast and East Belfast. All four extend beyond the city boundaries to include parts Castlereagh, Lisburn and Newtownabbey districts. In the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections in 2007, Belfast elected 24 Members the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), 6 from each constituency. The MLA breakdown consisted 8 Sinn Féin, 6 DUP, 4 SDLP, 3 UUP, 2 Alliance Party, and 1 PUP. In the 2005 UK general election, Belfast elected one MP from each constituency to the House Commons at Westminster, London. This comprised 2 DUP, 1 SDLP, and 1 Sinn Féin.

oat arms and mott
The city Belfast has the Latin motto "Pro tanto quid retribuamus". This is taken from Psalm 116 Verse 12 in the Latin Vulgate Bible and is literally "For (Pro) so much (tanto) what (quid) we shall repay (retribuamus)" The verse has been translated in different bibles differently - for example as "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?".King James Bible, Psalm 116 Verse 12 It is also translated as "In return for so much, what shall we give back?"I reflected on the two mottos Belfast and America - "Pro Tanto Quid" and "E Pluribus Unum". I am reliably informed that these roughly translate as "In return for so much, what shall we give back?" and "From many, one" , by Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Ekin The Queen"s University Students" Union Rag Week publication "PTQ" derives its name from the first three words the motto.

The city"s coat arms shows a central shield, bearing a ship and a bell, flanked by a chained wolf (or wolfhound) on the left and a seahorse on the right. A smaller seahorse sits at the top. This crest dates back to 1613, when King James I granted Belfast town status. The seal was used by Belfast merchants throughout the seventeenth century on their signs and trade-coins. A large stained glass window in the City Hall displays the seal, where an explanation suggests that the seahorse and the ship refer to Belfast"s significant maritime history. The wolf may be a tribute to the city"s founder, Sir Arthur Chichester, and refer to his own coat arms.

Cavehill, a basaltic hill overlooking the city.
Belfast is situated on Ireland"s eastern coast at . The city is flanked to the northwest by a series hills, including Cavehill. Belfast is located at the western end Belfast Lough and at the mouth the River Lagan making it an ideal location for the shipbuilding industry that once made it famous. When the "Titanic" was built in Belfast in 1911/1912, Harland and Wolff had the largest shipyard in the world.
Belfast is situated on Northern Ireland"s eastern coast. A consequence this northern latitude is that it both endures short winter days and enjoys long summer evenings. During the winter solstice, the shortest day the year, local sunset is before 16:00 while sunrise is around 08:45. This is balanced by the summer solstice in June, when the sun sets after 22:00 and rises before 05:00.

Belfast is located at the eastern end Belfast Lough and at the mouth the River Lagan. In 1994, a weir was built across the river by the Laganside Corporation to raise the average water level so that it would cover the unseemly mud flats which gave Belfast its name (). The area Belfast Local Government District is .

The River Farset is also named after this silt 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 referred to the river bank and Bridge Street was named for the site an early Farset bridge. However, superseded by the River Lagan as the more important river in the city, the Farset now languishes in obscurity, under High Street.

The city is flanked on the north and northwest by a series hills, including Divis Mountain, Black Mountain and Cavehill thought to be the inspiration for Jonathan Swift"s "Gulliver"s Travels". When Swift was living at Lilliput Cottage near the bottom the Limestone Road in Belfast, he imagined that the Cavehill resembled the shape a sleeping giant safeguarding the city. The shape the giant"s nose, known locally as "Napoleon"s Nose", is ficially called McArt"s Fort probably named after Art O"Neill, a 16th century chieftain who controlled the area at that time. The Castlereagh Hills overlook the city on the southeast.

Former poet and Catholic Bishop Down and Connor, Dr William Philbin wrote this Belfast: "Belfast is a city walled in by mountains, moated by seas, and undermined by deposits history".

Belfast has a temperate climate. Average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. The highest temperature recorded in Belfast was 30.8 °C (87.4 °F) on 12 July 1983. The city gets significant precipitation (greater than 0.01 in/0.25 mm) on 213 days in an average year with an average annual rainfall , less than the Lake District or the Scottish Highlands, but higher than Dublin or the south-east coast Ireland. As an urban and coastal area, Belfast typically gets snow on fewer than 10 days per year.
The city is also renowned for how warm it can get during the winter month at its high latitude. In February, temperatures have hit 17 °C, at the same latitude where it is ~-45 °C in Russia and Canada.
It is not uncommon for temperatures in summer to reach as high as 27 °C (80 °F) on numerous days. The consistently humid climate that prevails over Ireland can make temperatures feel uncomfortable when they stray into the high 20s (80-85°F), more so than similar temperatures in hotter climates in the rest Europe.

reas and district
The Ashby Building, part QUB. The David Keir Building Queen"s University is in the foreground. The orange façade Belfast City Hospital is visible in the centre background, with the city"s current tallest building Windsor House in the right background.

Belfast expanded very rapidly from being a market town to becoming an industrial city during the course the 19th century. Because this, it is less an agglomeration villages and towns which have expanded into each other, than other comparable cities, such as Manchester or Birmingham. The city expanded to the natural barrier 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) are more significant in defining the districts the city than nucleated settlements. Including the city centre, the city can be divided into five areas with north Belfast, east Belfast, south Belfast and west Belfast. Each these is a parliamentary constituency. Belfast remains segregated by walls, commonly known as “peace lines”, erected by the British Army after August 1969, and which still divide fourteen districts in the inner city.

In 2008 a process was proposed for the removal the "peace walls". In June 2007, a UK£16 million programme was announced which will transform and redevelop streets and public spaces in the city centre. Major arterial roads (quality bus corridor) into the city include the Antrim Road, Shore Road, Holywood Road, Newtownards Road, Castlereagh Road, Cregagh Road, Ormeau Road, Malone Road, Lisburn Road, Falls Road, Springfield Road, Shankill Road, and Crumlin Road.

Belfast city centre is divided by two postcodes, "BT1" for the area lying north the City Hall, and "BT2" for the area to its south. The industrial estate and docklands share "BT3". The rest the Greater Belfast postcodes are set out in a clockwise system. Although "BT" stands for "Belfast", it is used across the whole Northern Ireland.

Since 2001, boosted by increasing numbers tourists, the city council has developed a number cultural quarters. The "Cathedral Quarter" takes its name from St. Anne’s Cathedral (Church Ireland) and has taken on the mantle the city"s key cultural locality. It hosts a yearly visual and performing arts festival.

Custom House Square is one the city"s main outdoor venues for free concerts and street entertainment. The "Gaeltacht Quarter" is an area around the Falls Road in West Belfast which promotes and encourages the use the Irish language. The "Queen"s Quarter" in South Belfast is named after Queen"s University. The area has a large student population and hosts the annual Belfast Festival at Queen’s each autumn. It is home to Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Museum, closed for major redevelopment until 2009. 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, Shaftesbury Square and Bradbury Place, it contains some 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" covers reclaimed land adjacent to Belfast Harbour, formerly known as "Queen"s Island". Named after the Titanic, which was built here in 1912, work has begun which promises to transform some former shipyard land into "one the largest waterfront developments in Europe". Plans also include apartments, a riverside entertainment district, and a major Titanic-themed museum.


Belfast City Hall and the Big Wheel at night
The architectural style Belfast"s buildings range from Edwardian, like the City Hall, to modern, like Waterfront Hall. Many the city"s Victorian landmarks, including the main "Lanyon Building" at Queen"s University Belfast and the Linenhall Library, were designed by Sir Charles Lanyon.

The City Hall was finished in 1906 and was built to reflect Belfast’s city status, granted by Queen Victoria in 1888. The Edwardian architectural influenced the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, India, and Durban City Hall in South Africa. The dome is 173 ft (53 m) high and figures above the door state “Hibernia encouraging and promoting the Commerce and Arts 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 Justice in Chichester Street are home to Northern Ireland"s Supreme Court. Many Belfast"s oldest buildings are found in the Cathedral Quarter area, which is currently undergoing redevelopment as the city"s main cultural and tourist area. Windsor House, 262 ft (80 m) high, has twenty-three floors and is the tallest building (as distinct from structure) in Ireland. Work has started on the taller Obel Tower and in 2007, plans were approved for the Aurora building. At 37 storeys and 358 ft (109 m) high, this will surpass both previous buildings.

The ornately decorated Crown Liquor Saloon, designed by Joseph Anderson in 1876, in Great Victoria Street is the only bar in the UK owned by the National Trust. 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 the Titanic, built in Belfast. The Harland and Wolff shipyard is now the location the world"s largest dry dock, where the giant 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 the Grand Opera House has a distinctly oriental theme and was completed in 1895. It was bombed several times during the Troubles but has now been restored to its former glory. The Lyric Theatre, (currently 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. Lloyd George, Parnell and Patrick Pearse all attended political rallies there.

arks and garden

Sitting at the mouth the gentle River Lagan where it becomes a deep and sheltered lough, Belfast is surrounded by mountains that create a special micro-climate that is conducive and beneficial to horticulture. From the Victorian idyll that is Botanic Gardens in the heart the city to the spectacular heights Cave Hill Country Park, the great expanse Lagan Valley Regional Park to the tranquil beauty Colin Glen, Belfast contains an abundance beautiful parkland and forest parks, all which are in close proximity to Belfast city centre.

Parks and Gardens are an integral part Belfast’s heritage, and home to an abundance 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 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 City Council set aside UK£8 million to continue this work. The Belfast Naturalists" Field Club was founded in 1863 and is administered by National Museums and Galleries Northern Ireland.

The Palm House at the Botanic Gardens.
With 700,000 visitors in 2005, one the most popular parks is Botanic Gardens in the Queen"s Quarter. Built in the 1830s and designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, Botanic Gardens Palm House is one the earliest examples a curvilinear and cast iron 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 the city centre, attracts thousands visitors each year to its International Rose Garden. Rose Week in July each year features over 20,000 blooms. It has an area meadows, woodland and gardens and features a Princess Diana Memorial Garden, a Japanese Garden, a walled garden, and the Golden Crown Fountain commissioned in 2002 as part the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

In 2008, Belfast was named a finalist in the Large City (200,001 and over) category the RHS Britain in Bloom competition along with London Borough 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 the few local government-funded zoos in the UK and Ireland. The Zoo is one the top visitor attraction in Northern Ireland, receiving more than 295,000 visitors a year. The majority the animals are in danger in their natural habitat. The zoo houses more than 1,200 animals 140 species including Asian Elephants, Barbary Lions, a White Tigers (one the few in the United Kingdom), three species penguin, a family Western Lowland Gorillas, a troop Common Chimpanzees, a Red Panda and several species langur. The zoo also carries out important conservation work and takes part in European and international breeding programmes which help to ensure the survival many species under threat.

Panorama Belfast

In the 2001 census, the population within the city limits (the Belfast Urban Area) was 276,459, while 579,554 people lived in the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area. This made it the fifteenth-largest city in the United Kingdom, but the eleventh-largest conurbation.
Belfast experienced a huge growth in population around the first half the twentieth century. This rise slowed and peaked around the start 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 within the same Urban Area, had fallen to 277,391 people, with 579,554 people living in the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area. The population density in the same year was 2,415 people/km² (compared to 119 for the rest 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 Central Business District, with a pronounced wedge affluence extending out the Malone Road to the south. An area greater deprivation extends to the west the city. The areas around the Falls and Shankill Roads are the most deprived wards in Northern Ireland.

Despite a period relative peace, most areas and districts Belfast still reflect the divided nature Northern Ireland as a whole. Many areas are still highly segregated along ethnic, political and religious lines, especially in working class neighbourhoods. These zones - "Catholic" or "Republican" on one side and "Protestant", or "Loyalist" on the other - are invariably marked by flags, graffiti and murals. Segregation has been present throughout the history Belfast, but has been maintained and increased by each outbreak violence in the city. This escalation in segregation, described as a "ratchet effect", has shown little sign decreasing during times peace.
When violence flares, it tends to be in interface areas. The highest levels 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.

Ethnic minority communities have been in Belfast since the 1930s. The largest groups are Chinese and Irish travellers. Since the expansion the European Union, numbers have been boosted by an influx Eastern European immigrants. Census figures (2001) showed that Belfast has a total ethnic minority population 4,584 or 1.3% the population. Over half these live in South Belfast, where they comprise 2.63% the population. The majority the estimated 5,000 Muslims and 200 Hindu families living and working in Northern Ireland live in the Greater Belfast area.


The IRA Ceasefire in 1994 and the signing the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 have given investors increased confidence to invest in Belfast. This has led to a period sustained economic growth and large-scale redevelopment the city centre. Developments include Victoria Square, the Cathedral Quarter, and the Laganside with the Odyssey complex and the landmark Waterfront Hall. The Waterfront Hall. Built in 1997, the hall is a concert, exhibition and conference venue.
Other major developments include the regeneration the Titanic Quarter, and the erection 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 5.5%.
Over the past 10 years employment has grown by 16.4 per cent, compared with 9.2 per cent 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 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 also boosted the numbers tourists coming to Belfast. There were 6.4 million visitors in 2005, which was a growth 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 15% on 2005. The city"s two airports have helped make the city one the most visited weekend destinations in Europe.

Belfast has been the fastest-growing economy the thirty largest British cities over the past decade, a new economy report by Howard Spencer has found. "That"s the fundamentals the UK economy and people actually want to invest in the UK," he commented on that report.

BBC Radio 4"s World reported furthermore that despite higher levels corporation tax in the UK than in the Republic. There are "huge amounts" foreign investment coming into the country.WNS

The Times wrote about Belfast"s growing economy: "According to the region"s development agency, throughout the 1990’s Northern Ireland had the fastest-growing regional economy in the UK, with GDP increasing 1 per cent per annum faster than the rest 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 visitors and tourist revenues and has also established itself as a significant location for call centres."

Since the ending the regions 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".

ndustrial growt
A 1907 stereoscope postcard depicting the construction a liner at the Harland and Wolff shipyard.
When the population Belfast town began to grow in the seventeenth century, its economy was built on commerce. It provided a market for the surrounding countryside and the natural inlet Belfast Lough 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-seventeenth 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 the eighteenth century, one fifth all the linen exported from Ireland was shipped from Belfast. The present city however is a product the Industrial Revolution. It was not until industry transformed the linen and shipbuilding trades that the economy and the population boomed. By the turn the nineteenth century, Belfast had transformed into the largest linen producing centre in the world, earning the nickname "Linenopolis".

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 shipbuilding firm was created in 1861, and by the time the Titanic was built in Belfast in 1912 it had become the largest shipyard in the world.
Samson and Goliath, Harland & Wolff"s gantry cranes.
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 Belfast. The rise mass-produced and cotton clothing following World War I were some the factors which led to the decline 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 British exchequer up to UK£4 billion per year. Ongoing sectarian violence has made it difficult for Belfast to compete with Dublin"s Celtic Tiger economy. This has meant that wage rates in Belfast and Northern Ireland until recently were significantly lower that those in the Republic Ireland. The effect the economic depression in the Irish Republic on wage levels is not yet fully apparent. The cost living in Northern Ireland is significantly lower than in the Republic and this has created a retail boom in border towns and cities.

Belfast saw the worst The Troubles in Northern Ireland, with nearly half 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, 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 adjacent to Belfast Lough and Belfast International Airport which is near Lough Neagh. Queen"s University Belfast is the main university in the city. The University Ulster also maintains a campus in the city, which concentrates on fine art, design and architecture.

Belfast is one the constituent cities that makes up the Dublin-Belfast corridor region, which has a population just under 3 million.
Silent Valley Reservoir, showing the brick-built overflow
Most Belfast"s water is supplied from the Silent Valley Reservoir in County Down, created to collect water from the Mourne Mountains. The rest the city"s water is sourced from Lough Neagh, via "Dunore Water Treatment Works" in County Antrim. The citizens Belfast pay for their water in their rates bill. Plans to bring in additional water tariffs have been deferred by devolution in May 2007. Belfast has approximately sewers, which are currently being replaced in a project costing over UK£100 million and due for completion in 2009.

Northern Ireland Electricity is responsible for transmitting electricity in Northern Ireland. Belfast"s electricity comes from Kilroot Power Station, a 520 megawatt dual coal and oil fired plant, situated near Carrickfergus. Phoenix Natural Gas Ltd. has been granted the licence for the transportation natural gas across the Irish Sea from Stranraer to supply Greater Belfast from a base station near Carrickfergus. Rates in Belfast (and the rest Northern Ireland) were reformed in April 2007. The discrete capital value system means rates bills are determined by the capital value each domestic property as assessed by the "Valuation and Lands Agency". The recent dramatic rise in house prices has made these reforms unpopular.

ealth car
The Belfast Health & Social Care Trust is one five trusts that were created on 1 April 2007 by the Department Health. Belfast contains most Northern Ireland"s regional specialist centres. The Royal Victoria Hospital is an internationally-renowned centre excellence in trauma care and provides specialist trauma care for all Northern Ireland. It also provides the city"s specialist neurosurgical, ophthalmology, 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 City Hospital is the kidney transplant centre and provides regional renal services for Northern Ireland.
Musgrave Park Hospital in south Belfast specialises in orthopaedics, rheumatology, sports medicine and rehabilitation. It is home to Northern Ireland"s first Acquired Brain Injury Unit, costing GB£9 million and opened by the Prince Wales and the Duchess Cornwall in May, 2006. Other hospitals in Belfast include the Mater Hospital in north Belfast and the Children"s Hospital.


Belfast is a relatively car-dependent city by European standards, with an extensive road network including the 22.5 mile M2 and M22 motorway route. A recent survey how people travel in Northern Ireland showed that people in Belfast made 77% all journeys by car, 11% by public transport and 6% on foot. It also showed that Belfast has 0.70 cars per household compared to figures 1.18 in the East and 1.14 in the West Northern Ireland. A significant road improvement-scheme in Belfast began early in 2006, with the upgrading two junctions along the Westlink dual-carriageway to grade-separated standard. The Westlink, a dual-carriageway skirting the western edge the city Centre, connects all three Belfast motorways and ten suffers from chronic congestion. The work will cost UK£103.9 million and is scheduled for completion in 2009. Commentators have argued that this may simply create a bottleneck at York Street, the next at-grade intersection, until that too is upgraded (planned for 2011).

Black taxis are common in the city, operating on a share basis in some areas. These, however, are outnumbered by private hire taxis. Bus and rail public transport in Northern Ireland is operated by subsidiaries Translink. Bus services in the city proper and the nearer suburbs are operated by Translink Metro, with services focusing on linking residential districts with the city centre on twelve quality bus corridors running along main radial roads, resulting in poor connections between different suburban areas. More distant suburbs are served by Ulsterbus. Northern Ireland Railways provides suburban services along three lines running through Belfast’s northern suburbs to Carrickfergus and Larne, eastwards towards Bangor and south-westwards towards Lisburn and Portadown. This service is known as the Belfast Suburban Rail system. Belfast also has a direct rail connection with Dublin called "Enterprise" which is operated jointly by NIR and Iarnród Éireann, the state railway company the Republic Ireland.

In April 2008, the DRD reported on a plan for a light-rail system, similar to Dublin. 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 migrating to light rail in the future should the demand increase.

The city has two airports: the Belfast International Airport fers domestic, European and transatlantic flights and is located north-west the city, near Lough Neagh, while the George Best Belfast City Airport is closer to the city centre, adjacent to Belfast Lough. In 2005, Belfast International Airport was the 11th busiest commercial airport in the UK, accounting for just over 2% all UK terminal passengers while the George Best Belfast City Airport was the 16th busiest and had 1% UK terminal passengers.

Belfast has a large port which is used for exporting and importing goods, and for passenger ferry services. Stena Line run regular routes to Stranraer in Scotland using its HSS (High Speed Service) vessel—with a crossing time around 90 minutes— and/or its conventional vessel—with a crossing time around 3hrs 45 minutes. Norfolkline—formally Norse Merchant Ferries—runs a passenger/cargo ferry to and from Liverpool, with a crossing time 8 hours and a seasonal sailing to Douglas, Isle Man is operated by the Isle Man Steam Packet Company.


Belfast"s population is evenly split between its Protestant and Catholic residents. These two distinct vibrant 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 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 Culture. The bid was run by an independent company, "Imagine Belfast", who boasted that it would "make Belfast the meeting place Europe"s legends, where the meaning 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 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 arts activities, twice as many as in 2003-04. A combination relative peace, international investment and an active promotion 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 UK£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 Queen"s University is responsible for arranging a notable series lunchtime and evening concerts, ten given by renowned musicians which are usually given in The Harty Room at the university (University Square).

There are many Traditional Irish bands playing throughout the city and quite a few music schools concentrate on teaching Traditional music. Well known city centre venues would include Kelly"s Cellars, Maddens and the Hercules bar. Famous musicians would include The McPeakes and Brian Kennedy.

Musicians and bands who have written songs about or dedicated to Belfast:
Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, Simple Minds, Elton John, Katie Melua, Boney M, Paul Muldoon, Stiff Little Fingers, Nanci Griffith, Glenn Patterson, Orbital, James Taylor,Spandau Ballet, The Police, Barnbrack.

Further in Belfast the Oh Yeah Music Centre is located (Cathedral Quarter), a project founded to give young musicians and artists a place where they can share ideas and kick-start their music careers as chance to been supported and promoted by pressional musicians Northern Ireland"s music-scene.

Although, like the rest Northern Ireland, the city has no "mother-tongue" community Irish speakers, the language is heavily promoted in the city and Belfast has the highest concentration Irish speakers in the north. Those who choose to learn the language benefit from a high level funding from the British exchequer, funding, among other projects, a number Irish language Primary schools and one secondary school.

Broadcasting House on Ormeau Avenue, home to BBC Northern Ireland.
Belfast is the home "The News Letter", the oldest English language newspaper in the world still in publication. Other newspapers include the "Irish News" and "Belfast Telegraph" and - until its recent closure due to poor sales, the state-funded Irish language daily newspaper" Lá Nua" (). The city also contains a number free publications including Go Belfast, Fate magazine and the Vacuum that are distributed through bar, cafes and public venues.

The city is the headquarters BBC Northern Ireland, the ITV station UTV and the commercial radio stations Belfast CityBeat & U105 Two community radio stations, Feile FM and Irish language station Raidió Fáilte broadcast to the city from west Belfast, as well as Queen"s Radio - a student-run radio station which broadcasts from Queen"s University Students" Union. One Northern Ireland"s two community TV stations NvTv is based in the Cathedral Quarter 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. Also broadcasting only over the internet is the Cultural Radio Station for Northern Ireland, supporting community relations, Homely Planet.

The city has become a popular film location, with The Paint Hall at Harland and Wolff becoming one the UK Film Council"s main studios. The facility comprises four 16,000 sq ft stages. Films shot at The Paint Hall include "City Ember". Filming for HBO"s "Game Thrones" will begin in late 2009.


George Best mural, close to his childhood home in the Cregagh estate.
Watching and playing sports is an important part Belfast culture. Almost six out ten (59%) the adult population in Northern Ireland regularly participate in one or more sports. Belfast has several notable sports teams playing a diverse variety sports including association football, rugby, Cricket, Gaelic games, and ice hockey. The Belfast Marathon is run annually on May Day, and attracted 14,300 participants in 2007.
The Northern Ireland national football team, ranked 27th in September 2007 in the FIFA World Rankings, and 1st in the FIFA rankings per capita in April 2007
plays its home matches in Windsor Park. The 2008-09 Irish League runners-up Linfield are also based at Windsor Park, in the south the city. Other teams include current champions Glentoran based in east Belfast, Cliftonville and Crusaders in north Belfast and Donegal Celtic in west Belfast. Belfast was the home town the renowned player George Best 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 City Airport was named after him and a trust has been set up to fund a memorial to him in the city centre.

Gaelic football is the most popular spectator sport in Ireland, and Belfast is home to over twenty football and hurling clubs.. CLG Aontroim. Retrieved on 11 November 2007. Casement Park in West Belfast, home to the Antrim county teams, has a capacity 32,000 which makes it the second largest Gaelic Athletic Association ground in Ulster. The 2006 Celtic League champions and 1999 European Rugby Union champions Ulster play at Ravenhill in South Belfast. Belfast has four teams in rugby"s All-Ireland League: Belfast Harlequins (who play at Deramore Park in south Belfast) and Malone (who play at Gibson Park in south-east Belfast) are in the Second Division; and Instonians (Shaw"s Bridge, south Belfast) and Queen"s University RFC (south Belfast) are in the Third Division. As well as Rugby Union, Belfast is also home to the East Belfast Bulldogs Rugby league team who are competing in the new NI rugby league conference.

Belfast boasts Ireland"s premier cricket venue at Stormont. The Ireland cricket team plays many its home games at this venue, which in 2006 hosted the first ever One Day International between Ireland and England. In 2007, Ireland, India and South Africa played a triangular series one-day internationals at Stormont, and in 2008 the qualifying tournament for the ICC World Twenty20 was held there. At club level, Belfast has seven senior teams: Instonians (Shaw"s Bridge, south Belfast) and Civil Service North (Stormont, east Belfast) are in Section 1 the Northern Cricket Union League; CIYMS (Circular Road, east Belfast), Cooke Collegians (Shaw"s Bridge) and Woodvale (Ballygomartin Road, west Belfast) are in Section 2; and Cregagh (Gibson Park, south-east Belfast) and Police Service Northern Ireland (Newforge Lane, south Belfast) are in Section 4.

Ireland"s first pressional ice hockey team, the Belfast Giants play their home matches at the Odyssey Arena, watched by up to seven thousand fans. The Belfast Bulls and Belfast Trojans American football teams represent Belfast in the IAFL, competing for the Shamrock Bowl. Other significant sportspeople from Belfast include double world snooker champion Alex "Hurricane" Higgins and world champion boxers Wayne McCullough and Rinty Monaghan.
Leander A.S.C is a well known swimming club in Belfast.


The Lanyon Building Queen"s University in south Belfast
Belfast has two universities. Queen"s University Belfast was founded in 1845 and is a member the Russell Group, an association 20 leading research-intensive universities in the UK. It is one the largest universities in the UK with 25,231 undergraduate and postgraduate students spread over 250 buildings, 120 which are listed as being architectural merit. The University Ulster, created in its current form in 1984, is a multi-centre university with a campus in the Cathedral Quarter Belfast. The Belfast campus has a specific focus on Art and Design and Architecture, and is currently undergoing major redevelopment. The Jordanstown campus, just seven miles (11 km) from Belfast city centre concentrates on engineering, health and social science. The Conflict Archive on the INternet (CAIN) Web Service receives funding from both universities and is a rich source 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 several campuses around the city. Formerly known as Belfast Institute 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 the largest further education colleges in the UK.

The Belfast Education and Library Board was established in 1973 as the local authority responsible for education, youth and library services within the city. There are 184 primary, secondary and grammar schools in the city.

The Ulster Museum is also located in Belfast.

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 Istanbul, Berlin, Cape Town, Saqqara, Washington DC, Cambodia, Waiheke Island, Cartagena, Waterton Lakes National Park, the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail, Alabama and the Lassen Volcanic National Park Daily Telegraph

To further enhance the tourist industry in Northern Ireland, the Belfast City Council is currently investing into the complete redevelopment the Titanic Quarter, which is planned to consist apartments, hotels, a riverside entertainment district, and a major Titanic-themed attraction. They also hope to invest in a new modern transport system (high-speed rail and others) for Belfast, with a cost £250 million.

win citie
Belfast is twinned with:"." "Sister Cities International." Retrieved on 26 March 2007.

* "Nashville, Tennessee"
* "Bonn", Germany
* "Hefei", China"." "." Retrieved on 19 February 2008.
* Wonju, South Korea


urther readin
* Beesley, S. and Wilde, J. 1997. "Urban Flora Belfast". Institute Irish Studies & The Queen"s University Belfast.
* Deane, C.Douglas. 1983. "The Ulster Countryside." Century Books. ISBN 0903152177
* Nesbitt, Noel. 1982. "The Changing Face Belfast." Ulster Museum, Belfast. Publication no. 183.
* Gillespie, R. 2007. "Early Belfast." Belfast Natural History & Philosophical Society in Association with Ulster Historical Foundation. ISBN 978-1-903688-72-4.
* Walker, B.M. and Dixon, H. 1984. "Early Photoraphs from the Lawrence Collection in Belfast Town 1864 - 1880." The Friar"s Bush Press, ISBN 0946872
* Walker, B.M. and Dixon, H. 1983. "No Mean City: Belfast 1880 - 1914." ISBN 0 946872 00 7.
* Nesbitt N. 1982. "The Changing Face Belfast." Ulster Museum Belfast, publication no. 183.

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* - public service portal
* An illustrated history, circa 1913
* .

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Category:Settlements established in the 1st centuryCategory:British capitalsCategory:Capitals in EuropeCategory:Host cities of the Commonwealth GamesCategory:Host cities of the Summer Olympic GamesCategory:Port cities and towns in the United
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