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This article is about the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland. See also Belfast, Maine and Belfast, New York.

Belfast city
- Total
- % Water
Ranked 23rd
115 km²
? %
Admin HQ: Belfast
ONS code: 95Z
- Total (April 29, 2001)
- Density
Ranked 1st
2,415 / km²
Community: Protestant: 48.6%
Catholic: 47.2
Belfast City Council
MPs: Gerry Adams
Nigel Dodds
Peter Robinson
Martin Smyth

Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland and the Irish Province of Ulster, with a population of 277,391 (2001 census). It is the seat of government for Northern Ireland, and in times past this was located at Hillsborough fort. Belfast is the county town for County Antrim.

The name Belfast originates from the Irish Béal Feirste, or the mouth of the Farset, the river on which the city was built. Interestingly, the river Farset has been superseded by the River Lagan as the most important river; the Farset now languishes under Bridge Street in obscurity.

Belfast is situated at the mouth of the River Lagan on Belfast Lough and is surrounded by hills (Black Mountain and Cavehill - the famous Napoleon's nose is a basaltic outcrop here which forms the border with neighbouring Glengormley). The Lagan riverfront has been regenerated, and much of the city centre is pedestrianised.

The City Hall, dating from 1903, Queen's University (1849), and other Victorian and Edwardian buildings display a large number of sculptures. Among the grandest buildings are two former banks: Ulster Bank (1860) and Northern Bank (1769).

The world's largest dry dock is here, and the giant cranes of the Harland and Wolff shipyard can be seen from afar. Other long gone industries included Irish linen and rope-making.

The west of the city is known for its murals, reflecting the political and religious allegiances of the two communities. The Shankhill Road, which is entirely Protestant, has murals depicting loyalty to the British Crown, the Ulster Volunteer Force, and other loyalist paramilitaries. Conversely, murals on the Falls Road, entirely Catholic, feature political themes like a united Ireland, and the Irish Republican Army, as well as traditional folklore and the Irish language.

The city has two airports Belfast City Airport adjacent to Belfast Lough and Belfast International Airport which is near Lough Neagh.


The site of Belfast has been occupied since the Bronze ages, and the remains of Iron Age hill forts can still be seen.

In the early 17th century Belfast was settled by English and Scottish settlers, under a plan to colonise the area drawn up by Sir Arthur Chichester. This caused much tension with the existing population who rebelled in 1641. It was later settled by French Huguenots who established a sizeable linen trade.

Belfast became the centre of Irish Protestantism, and in 1922 it was declared the capital of Northern Ireland.

During the Second World War, Belfast was heavily bombed by German forces due to its concentration of heavy shipbuilding and aerospace industries. Much of the city was flattened.

For much of its history, Belfast has been racked by sectarian divisions between Roman Catholics and Protestants, and was hit hard by The Troubles of the 1960s-1990s.

Local Politics

In 2001, the voters of Belfast elected 10 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), 11 Ulster Unionist Party, 3 Progressive Unionist Party, 1 Ulster Democratic Party, 3 Alliance, 9 SDLP, and 14 Sinn Féin Councillors to the City Council. The City Council is in no overall control, and is largely run by committee.

Belfast has four UK parliamentary and Assembly constituencies - North Belfast, West Belfast, South Belfast and East Belfast. All four extend somewhat beyond the city boundaries into parts of Castlereagh, Lisburn and Newtownabbey districts. In 2001, these elected 2 DUP MPs, 1 Ulster Unionist MP and 1 Sinn Féin MP. In 2003, they elected 6 DUP, 5 Ulster Unionist, 1 PUP, 1 Alliance, 4 SDLP and 7 Sinn Fein members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

See also

Belfast Peace Lines

External links

United Kingdom | Ireland | Northern Ireland | Districts of Northern Ireland
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