Belfast (/ˈbɛlfɑːst/; from Irish: Béal Feirste, meaning "mouth of the Farset") is a city in the United Kingdom, the capital city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is the largest city in Northern Ireland and second-largest on the island of Ireland. It had a population of 333,871 as of 2015.
By the early 19th century, Belfast became a major port. It played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, becoming the biggest linen-producer in the world, earning it the nickname "Linenopolis". By the time it was granted city status in 1888, it was a major centre of Irish linen production, tobacco-processing and rope-making. Shipbuilding was also a key industry; the Harland and Wolff shipyard, which built the RMS Titanic, was the world's biggest shipyard. Belfast as of 2019 has a major aerospace and missiles industry. Industrialisation and the inward migration it brought made Belfast Ireland's biggest city and it became the capital of Northern Ireland following the Partition of Ireland in 1922. Its status as a global industrial centre ended in the decades after the Second World War of 1939–1945.
Belfast suffered greatly in the Troubles: in the 1970s and 1980s it was one of the world's most dangerous cities. However, a survey conducted by a finance company and published in 2016 rated the city as one of the safest within the United Kingdom. Throughout the 21st century, the city has seen a sustained period of calm, free from the intense political violence of former years, and has benefitted from substantial economic and commercial growth. Belfast remains a centre for industry, as well as for the arts, higher education, business, and law, and is the economic engine of Northern Ireland. Belfast is still a major port, with commercial and industrial docks, including the Harland and Wolff shipyard, dominating the Belfast Lough shoreline. It is served by two airports: George Best Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport 15 miles (24 km) west of the city. The Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) listed Belfast as a Gamma global city in 2018.
Skyline and buildings throughout the City of Belfast
Coat of arms with motto "Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus" (Latin: "What shall we give in return for so much")
|Area||51.16 sq mi (132.5 km2)|
|Population||City of Belfast:|
|Irish grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||BT1–BT17, BT29 (part), BT36 (part), BT58|
|EU Parliament||Northern Ireland|
The name Belfast is derived from the Irish Béal Feirsde, which was later spelt Béal Feirste. The word béal means "mouth" or "rivermouth" while feirsde/feirste is the genitive singular of fearsaid and refers to a sandbar or tidal ford across a river's mouth. The name would thus translate literally as "(river) mouth of the sandbar" or "(river) mouth of the ford". This sandbar was formed at the confluence of two rivers at what is now Donegall Quay: the Lagan, which flows into Belfast Lough, and its tributary the Farset. This area was the hub around which the original settlement developed. The Irish name Béal Feirste is shared by a townland in County Mayo, whose name has been anglicised as Belfarsad.
An alternative interpretation of the name is "mouth of [the river] of the sandbar", an allusion to the River Farset, which flows into the Lagan where the sandbar was located. This interpretation was favoured by Edmund Hogan and John O'Donovan. It seems clear, however, that the river itself was named after the tidal crossing.
The site of Belfast has been occupied since the Bronze Age. The Giant's Ring, a 5,000-year-old henge, is located near the city, and the remains of Iron Age hill forts can still be seen in the surrounding hills. Belfast remained a small settlement of 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, 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.
Belfast became a substantial settlement in the 17th century after being established as a town by Sir Arthur Chichester. It was initially settled by Protestant English and Scottish migrants at the time of the Plantation of Ulster. (Belfast and County Antrim, however, did not form part of this particular Plantation scheme as they were privately colonised.) In 1791, the Society of 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 of the Catholics of Ireland". Evidence of this period of Belfast's growth can still be seen in the oldest areas of the city, known as the Entries.
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 of the 19th century, Belfast briefly overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland. The Harland and Wolff shipyards became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, employing up to 35,000 workers. In 1886 the city suffered intense riots over the issue of home rule, which had divided the city.
In 1920–22, Belfast became the capital of the new entity of Northern Ireland as the island of Ireland was partitioned. The accompanying conflict (the Irish War of Independence) cost up to 500 lives in Belfast, the bloodiest sectarian strife in the city until the Troubles of the late 1960s onwards.
Belfast was heavily bombed during World War II. 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.
Belfast has been the capital of Northern Ireland since its establishment in 1921 following the Government of Ireland Act 1920. 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 and loyalist respectively, although they are also loosely referred to as 'nationalist' 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. The Provisional IRA detonated 22 bombs within the confines of Belfast city centre in 1972, on what is known as "Bloody Friday", killing eleven people. Loyalist paramilitaries including the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) claimed 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 in the mid-1970s, became known as the Shankill Butchers.
In all, over 1,600 people were killed in political violence in the city between 1969 and 2001.
Tensions and civil disturbances still occur despite the 1998 peace agreement, including sectarian riots and paramilitary attacks.
Belfast was granted borough status by James VI and I in 1613 and official 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 of Commons and in the Northern Ireland Assembly. For elections to the European Parliament, Belfast is within the Northern Ireland constituency.
Belfast City Council is the local council with responsibility for the city. The city's elected officials are the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Deputy Lord Mayor and High Sheriff who are elected from among 60 councillors. The first Lord Mayor of Belfast was Daniel Dixon, who was elected in 1892. The Lord Mayor for 2016–17 is Alderman Brian Kingston of the Democratic Unionist Party, while the Deputy Lord Mayor is Mary Ellen Campbell of Sinn Féin, both of whom were elected in June 2016 to serve a one-year term. The Lord Mayor's duties include presiding over meetings of the council, receiving distinguished visitors to the city, and 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 gaining the balance of power between Nationalists and Unionists. This position was confirmed in the three subsequent council elections, with mayors from Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic and Labour 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.
The last elections to Belfast City Council were held on 22 May 2014, with the city's voters electing sixty councillors across ten district electoral areas. The results were: 19(+3) Sinn Féin, 13(−2) Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), 8(+2) Alliance Party, 7(−1) SDLP, 7(+4) Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), 3(+1) Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), with the Traditional Unionist Voice. Greens and People Before Profit Alliance all winning their first seats.
As Northern Ireland's capital city, Belfast is host to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, the site of the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. Belfast is divided into four Northern Ireland Assembly 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 and Newtownabbey districts. In the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections in 2017, Belfast elected 20 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), 5 from each constituency. Belfast elected 7 Sinn Féin, 5 DUP, 2 SDLP, 3 Alliance Party, 1 UUP, 1 Green and 1 PBPA MLAs. In the 2017 UK general election, Belfast elected one MP from each constituency to the House of Commons at Westminster, London. This comprised 3 DUP and 1 Sinn Féin.
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 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 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 shortest day of 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.
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 (from Irish Béal Feirste, meaning 'The sandy ford at the river mouth'). The area of Belfast Local Government District is 42.31 square miles (109.6 km2).
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 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 eleven 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 Milewater, the Purdysburn and the Ravernet.
The city is flanked on the north and northwest by a series of 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 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.
As with the rest of Ireland, Belfast has a temperate or oceanic climate, with a narrow range of temperatures and rainfall throughout the year. The climate of Belfast is significantly milder than some other locations in the world at a similar latitude, due to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream. There are currently five weather observing stations in the Belfast area: Helens Bay, 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 30.8 °C (87.4 °F) at Shaws Bridge on 12 July 1983. Belfast holds the record for Northern Ireland's warmest night time minimum, 19.6 °C (67.3 °F) at Whitehouse on 14 August 2001.
The city gets significant precipitation (greater than 1mm) on 157 days in an average year with an average annual rainfall of 846 millimetres (33.3 in), less than areas of northern England or most of Scotland, but higher than 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 29.7 °C (85.5 °F), set during July 1983. In an average year the warmest day will rise to a temperature of 25.0 °C (77.0 °F) with a day of 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or above occurring roughly once every two in three years. The absolute minimum temperature at Stormont is −9.9 °C (14 °F), during January 1982, although in an average year the coldest night will fall no lower than −4.5 °C (23.9 °F) with air frost being recorded on just 26 nights. The lowest temperature to occur in recent years was −8.8 °C (16.2 °F) on 22 December 2010.
The nearest weather station for which sunshine data and longer term observations are available is Belfast International Airport (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 25.4 °C (77.7 °F), (1.0 °C [1.8 °F] higher than Stormont) and 2.1 days should attain a temperature of 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or above in total. Conversely the coldest night of the year averages −6.9 °C (19.6 °F) (or 1.9 °C [3.4 °F] lower than Stormont) and 39 nights should register an air frost. Some 13 more frosty nights than Stormont. The minimum temperature at Aldergrove was −14.9 °C (5.2 °F), during December 2010.
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 or 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) are more significant in defining the districts of the city than nucleated settlements. Belfast remains segregated by walls, commonly known as "peace lines", erected by the British Army 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) 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, 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 quarters. The Cathedral Quarter takes its name from St Anne's Cathedral (Church of Ireland) and has taken on the mantle of the city's key cultural locality. It hosts a yearly 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 is an area around the Falls Road in west Belfast which promotes and encourages the use of 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 International Arts Festival each autumn. It is home to Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Museum, which was reopened in 2009 after major redevelopment. 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 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 covers 0.75 km2 (0 sq mi) of reclaimed land adjacent to 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.
The architectural style of Belfast's buildings range from Edwardian, like the City Hall, to modern, like Waterfront Hall. Many of 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 style of Belfast City Hall 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 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 in Chichester Street are home to Northern Ireland's Supreme Court. Many of 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 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 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 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 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 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. 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. Lloyd George, Parnell and Patrick Pearse all attended political rallies there.
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 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 Botanic Gardens in the Queen's Quarter. Built in the 1830s and designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, Botanic Gardens Palm House is one of the earliest examples of 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 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 128 acres (0.52 km2) 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 Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations.
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.
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 Central Business District, with a pronounced wedge of affluence extending out the Malone Road and Upper Malone Road to the south. An area of greater deprivation extends to the west of the city. The areas around the Falls (Catholic nationalist) and the Shankill Road (Protestant loyalist) are the 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 – Catholic/Republican on one side and Protestant/Loyalist on the other – are invariably marked by flags, graffiti and 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. When violence flares, it tends to be in interface areas.
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 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.
The 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, the Cathedral Quarter, and the Laganside with the Odyssey complex and the landmark Waterfront Hall.
Other major developments include the regeneration of the 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.
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 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. 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".
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 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 British exchequer of up to £4 billion per year.
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, 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 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.
Most of Belfast's water is supplied from the Silent Valley Reservoir in County Down, 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 bill. Plans to bring in additional water tariffs have been deferred by devolution in May 2007. Belfast has approximately 1,300 km (808 mi) of 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 power stations via NIE Networks Limited transmission lines. 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 in Belfast (and the rest of Northern Ireland) were reformed in April 2007. The discrete 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.
The Belfast Health & Social Care Trust is one of five trusts that were created on 1 April 2007 by the Department of Health. Belfast contains most of Northern Ireland's regional specialist centres. The 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 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 £9 million and opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of 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 miles (36 km) M2 and 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 dual-carriageway to grade-separated standard. The improvement scheme was completed five months ahead of schedule on 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.
Black taxis are common in the city, operating on a share basis in some areas. These are outnumbered by private hire taxis. Bus and rail public transport in Northern Ireland is operated by subsidiaries of 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 12 quality bus corridors running along main radial roads,
More distant suburbs are served by Ulsterbus. Northern Ireland Railways provides suburban services along three lines running through Belfast's northern suburbs to Carrickfergus, Larne and Larne Harbour, eastwards towards Bangor and south-westwards towards Lisburn and Portadown. This service is known as the Belfast Suburban Rail system. Belfast is linked directly to Coleraine, Portrush and Derry. Belfast has a direct rail connection with Dublin called 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 lack of a bridge or tunnel connecting Great Britain to the island of Ireland. 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 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 of migrating to light rail in the future should the demand increase.
The city has two airports: Belfast International Airport 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, which is closer to the city centre by train from Sydenham on the 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 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 Company.
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 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 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).
There are many Traditional Irish bands playing throughout the city and quite a few music schools concentrate on teaching Traditional music.
Musicians and bands who have written songs about or dedicated to Belfast: U2, Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, Simple Minds, Elton John, Rogue Male, Katie Melua, Boney M, Paul Muldoon, Stiff Little Fingers, Nanci Griffith, Glenn Patterson, Orbital, James Taylor, Fun Boy Three, Spandau Ballet, The Police, Barnbrack, Gary Moore, Neon Neon, Toxic Waste, Energy Orchard, and Billy Bragg.
The City is the subject of the Boney M hit, "Belfast" which features the recognisable refrain, "Belfast/Belfast/Belfast".
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 a chance to be supported and promoted by professional musicians of Northern Ireland's music scene.
Belfast has a longstanding underground club scene which was established in the early 1980s.
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 Shaws 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. Belfast has the highest concentration of Irish speakers in Northern Ireland. 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.
Belfast is the home of the Belfast Telegraph, Irish News, and The News Letter, the oldest English-language newspaper in the world still in publication. The city has a number of free publications including Fate magazine, Go Belfast, and the Vacuum, that are distributed through bar, cafes and public venues.
The city is the headquarters of BBC Northern Ireland, ITV station UTV and commercial radio stations Belfast CityBeat 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 Students' Union. One of Northern Ireland's two community TV stations, NvTv, is based in the 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 16,000 square feet (1,000 m2). Shows filmed at The Paint Hall include the film City of Ember (2008) and HBO's Game of Thrones series (beginning in late 2009).
In November 2011, Belfast became the smallest city to host the 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.
Belfast has several notable sports teams playing a diverse variety of sports such as football, Gaelic games, 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 Irish League champions Crusaders are based at Seaview, in the north of the city. Other senior clubs are Glentoran, Linfield, Cliftonville, Harland & Wolff Welders and PSNI. Intermediate-level clubs are: Dundela, Newington Youth, Queen's University and Sport & Leisure Swifts, who compete in the NIFL Premier Intermediate League; Albert Foundry, Bloomfield, Colin Valley, Crumlin Star, Dunmurry Rec., Dunmurry Young Men, East Belfast, Grove United, Immaculata, Iveagh United, Malachians, Orangefield Old Boys, Rosario Youth Club, St Luke's, St Patrick's Young Men, Shankill United, Short Brothers and Sirocco Works of the Northern Amateur Football League and Brantwood and Donegal Celtic of the Ballymena & Provincial League. Belfast was the home town of Manchester United legend 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.
Belfast is home to over twenty Gaelic football and hurling clubs. Casement Park in west Belfast, home to the Antrim county teams, has a capacity of 32,000 which makes it the second largest Gaelic Athletic Association ground in Ulster. 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: Belfast Harlequins in Division 1B; and Instonians, Queen's University and Malone in Division 2A.
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 4,000–7,000. Many ex-NHL players have featured on the Giants roster, none more famous than world superstar Theo Fleury. The Giants play in the 11-team professional Elite Ice Hockey League which is the top league in Britain. The Giants have been league champions 4 times, most recently in the 2013–14 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 "Hurricane" Higgins and world champion boxers Wayne McCullough and Rinty Monaghan. Leander A.S.C is a well known swimming club in Belfast. Belfast produced the Formula One racing stars John Watson who raced for five different teams during his career in the 1970s and 1980s and Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine.
Academia and science
Arts and media
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 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 seven miles (11 km) from Belfast city centre concentrates on engineering, health and social science. The Coleraine campus, about 55 mi (89 km) 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 campus, about 70 mi (113 km) 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. There are 184 primary, secondary and grammar schools in the city.
The Ulster Museum is located in Belfast.
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, 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), Cambodia, Cape Town (South Africa), 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 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.
Belfast has the following sister cities:
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The BT postcode area, also known as the Belfast postcode area, covers all of Northern Ireland and was the last part of the United Kingdom to be coded, between 1970 and 1974.With a population of over 1.8 million people, BT is the second most populous UK postcode area, after the B postcode area (Birmingham, 1.9 million).Belfast Boys' Model School
Belfast Boys' Model School (formerly Belfast Model School or Belfast District Model School) is a boys only secondary school in Belfast, Northern Ireland.Belfast City Council
Belfast City Council (Irish: Comhairle Cathrach Bhéal Feirste; Ulster-Scots: Bilfawst Citie Cooncil) is the local authority with responsibility for part of the city of Belfast, the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland. The Council serves an estimated population of 333,871 (2011), the largest of any district council in Northern Ireland, while also being the fourth smallest by area. Belfast City Council is the primary council of the Belfast Metropolitan Area, a grouping of six district councils with commuter towns and overspill from Belfast, containing a total population of 579,276.The Council is made up of 60 councillors, elected from nine district electoral areas across the city, most representing the more heavily populated north and west. It holds its meetings in the historic Belfast City Hall. The current Lord Mayor is Deirdre Hargey of Sinn Féin.
As part of the 2014/2015 reform of local government the city council area expanded and now covers an area that includes 53,000 additional residents in 21,000 households. The number of councillors increased from 51 to 60. Elections to the expanded city council took place on 22 May 2014.Belfast International Airport
Belfast International Airport (IATA: BFS, ICAO: EGAA) is an airport 11.5 NM (21.3 km; 13.2 mi) northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Formerly known as Aldergrove Airport, after the nearby village of Aldergrove, Belfast International is Northern Ireland's busiest airport and the second busiest airport on the island of Ireland after Dublin Airport. In 2018, over 6.2 million passengers travelled through the airport, marking a 7.4% increase compared with 2017. It features flights to some European metropolitan and several leisure destinations as well as seasonal long-haul routes to the United States.
Belfast International has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. The airfield was previously shared with the Royal Air Force base RAF Aldergrove which closed in 2008. The base is now known as Joint Helicopter Command Flying Station, Aldergrove and both runways are now owned by the airport. The airport is owned and operated by VINCI Airports which was previously owned by ADC & HAS.Belfast Telegraph
The Belfast Telegraph is a daily newspaper published in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Independent News & Media. Despite its unionist tradition, today the paper has a significant readership both among Protestants and Catholics.Cocktail
A cocktail is an alcoholic mixed drink, which is either a combination of spirits, or one or more spirits mixed with other ingredients such as fruit juice, flavored syrup, or cream. There are various types of cocktails, based on the number and kind of ingredients added. The origins of the cocktail are debated.County Antrim
County Antrim (named after the town of Antrim, from Irish: Aontroim, meaning "lone ridge", [ˈeːnˠt̪ˠɾˠɪmʲ]) is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 3,046 square kilometres (1,176 sq mi) and has a population of about 618,000. County Antrim has a population density of 203 people per square kilometre or 526 people per square mile. It is also one of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland, as well as part of the historic province of Ulster.
The Glens of Antrim offer isolated rugged landscapes, the Giant's Causeway is a unique landscape and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bushmills produces whiskey, and Portrush is a popular seaside resort and night-life area. The majority of Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland, is in County Antrim, with the remainder being in County Down.
According to the 2001 census, it is currently one of only two counties of Ireland in which a majority of the population are from a Protestant background. The other is County Down to the south.George Best
George Best (22 May 1946 – 25 November 2005) was a Northern Irish professional footballer who played as a winger, spending most of his career at Manchester United. He is universally regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. A highly skilful winger, considered by several pundits to be one of the greatest dribblers in the history of the sport, Best received plaudits for his playing style, which combined pace, skill, balance, feints, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to get past defenders. He was once quoted as saying, "Pelé called me the greatest footballer in the world. That is the ultimate salute to my life."Born and brought up in Belfast, Best began his club career in England with Manchester United, with the scout who had spotted his talent at the age of 15 sending a telegram to manager Matt Busby which read: "I think I've found you a genius." After making his debut aged 17, he scored 179 goals from 470 appearances over 11 years, and was the club's top goalscorer in the league for five consecutive seasons. In 1968, he scored 32 goals in 53 games as Manchester United won their first European Cup. That year Best won the Ballon d'Or and FWA Footballer of the Year. In international football, he was capped 37 times and scored nine goals between 1964 and 1977, although a combination of the team's performance and his lack of fitness in 1982 meant that he never played in the finals of a European Championship or World Cup. The Irish Football Association described him as the "greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland". Best unexpectedly quit United in 1974 at age 27, but returned to football for a number of both professional and amateur clubs around the world in short spells. At the age of 37, he retired from playing in 1984.
With his good looks and playboy lifestyle, Best became one of the first media celebrity footballers, earning the nickname "Fifth Beatle" in 1966, but his extravagant life style led to various personal problems, most notably alcoholism, which he suffered from for the rest of his life. These issues affected him on and off the field, often causing controversy. Although conscious of his problems, he was publicly not contrite about them; he said of his career: "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds [women] and fast cars – the rest I just squandered". After football, he spent some time as a football analyst, but his financial and health problems continued into his retirement. He died in 2005, age 59, due to complications from the immunosuppressive drugs he needed to take after a liver transplant in 2002. He continued drinking after the transplant. Best was married twice, to two former models, Angie Best and then Alex Best. His son Calum Best was born in 1981 from his first marriage.
Best was voted 8th in the World Soccer 100 greatest football players of the 20th century election in 1999 and was voted 16th in the IFFHS World Player of the Century election in 1999. He was on the six-man short list for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Century in 1999. Best was one of the inaugural 22 inductees into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2004, he was voted 19th in the public UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll and was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. On what would have been his 60th birthday, Belfast City Airport was renamed the George Best Belfast City Airport. According to the BBC, Best was remembered by mourners at his public funeral held in Belfast as "the beautiful boy" [with a] "beautiful game".Gerry Adams
Gerard Adams (Irish: Gearóid Mac Ádhaimh; born 6 October 1948) is an Irish republican politician who was the Leader of the Sinn Féin political party between 13 November 1983 and 10 February 2018, and has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for Louth since the 2011 general election. From 1983 to 1992 and from 1997 to 2011, he was an abstentionist Member of Parliament (MP) of the British Parliament for the Belfast West constituency.
In 1984, Adams was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt by several gunmen from the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), including John Gregg. From the late 1980s onwards, Adams was an important figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, initially following contact by the then-Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader John Hume and then subsequently with the Irish and British governments.Under Adams, Sinn Féin changed its traditional policy of abstentionism towards the Oireachtas, the parliament of the Republic of Ireland, in 1986 and later took seats in the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly. In 2005, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) stated that its armed campaign was over and that it was exclusively committed to peaceful politics.In 2014, he was held for four days by the Police Service of Northern Ireland for questioning in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972. He was freed without charge and a file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service, which later stated there was insufficient evidence to charge him, as had been expected since shortly after his release.Adams announced in November 2017 that he would step down as leader of Sinn Féin in 2018, and that he would not stand for re-election to his seat in the Dáil in the next election. He was succeeded as Leader of Sinn Féin by Mary Lou McDonald at a special ardfheis (party conference) on 10 February 2018.Good Friday Agreement
The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) or Belfast Agreement (Irish: Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or Comhaontú Bhéal Feirste) was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s. Northern Ireland's present devolved system of government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The agreement is made up of two inter-related documents, both agreed in Belfast on Good Friday, 10 April 1998:
a multi-party agreement by most of Northern Ireland's political parties (the Multi-Party Agreement);
an international agreement between the British and Irish governments (the British–Irish Agreement).The agreement set out a complex series of provisions relating to a number of areas including:
The status and system of government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. (Strand 1)
The relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Strand 2)
The relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. (Strand 3)Issues relating to sovereignty, civil and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, demilitarisation, justice, and policing were central to the agreement.
The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, voters were asked in the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum whether they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and allow necessary constitutional changes (Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland) to facilitate it. The people of both jurisdictions needed to approve the agreement in order to give effect to it.
The British–Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was the only major political group in Northern Ireland to oppose the Good Friday Agreement.HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast is a Town-class light cruiser that was built for the Royal Navy. She is now permanently moored as a museum ship on the River Thames in London and is operated by the Imperial War Museum.
Construction of Belfast, the first ship in the Royal Navy to be named after the capital city of Northern Ireland and one of ten Town-class cruisers, began in December 1936. She was launched on St Patrick's Day 1938. Commissioned in early August 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Belfast was initially part of the British naval blockade against Germany. In November 1939, Belfast struck a German mine and, in spite of fears that she would be scrapped, spent more than two years undergoing extensive repairs. Belfast returned to action in November 1942 with improved firepower, radar equipment, and armour. Belfast saw action escorting Arctic convoys to the Soviet Union during 1943 and in December 1943 played an important role in the Battle of North Cape, assisting in the destruction of the German warship Scharnhorst. In June 1944, Belfast took part in Operation Overlord supporting the Normandy landings. In June 1945, Belfast was redeployed to the Far East to join the British Pacific Fleet, arriving shortly before the end of the Second World War. Belfast saw further combat action in 1950–52 during the Korean War and underwent an extensive modernisation between 1956 and 1959. A number of further overseas commissions followed before Belfast entered reserve in 1963.
In 1967, efforts were initiated to avert Belfast's expected scrapping and to preserve her as a museum ship. A joint committee of the Imperial War Museum, the National Maritime Museum, and the Ministry of Defence was established and then reported in June 1968 that preservation was practical. In 1971, the government decided against preservation, prompting the formation of the private HMS Belfast Trust to campaign for her preservation. The efforts of the Trust were successful, and the government transferred the ship to the Trust in July 1971. Brought to London, she was moored on the River Thames near Tower Bridge in the Pool of London. Opened to the public in October 1971, Belfast became a branch of the Imperial War Museum in 1978. A popular tourist attraction, Belfast receives over a quarter of a million visitors per year. As a branch of a national museum and part of the National Historic Fleet, Belfast is supported by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, admissions income, and the museum's commercial activities.Harland and Wolff
Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries is a heavy industrial company, specialising in ship repair, conversion, and offshore construction, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Harland & Wolff is famous for having built the majority of the ships intended for the White Star Line. Well known ships built by Harland & Wolff include the Olympic-class trio: RMS Titanic, RMS Olympic and RMS Britannic, the Royal Navy's HMS Belfast, Royal Mail Line's Andes, Shaw Savill's Southern Cross, Union-Castle's RMS Pendennis Castle, and P&O's Canberra. Harland and Wolff's official history, Shipbuilders to the World, was published in 1986.As of 2011, the expanding offshore wind power industry has been the prime focus, and 75% of the company's work is based on offshore renewable energy.Irish Cup
The Irish Football Association Challenge Cup (also known as the Tennent's Irish Cup for sponsorship purposes) is the primary football knock-out cup competition in Northern Ireland. Inaugurated in 1881, it is the fourth-oldest national cup competition in the world. Prior to the break-away from the Irish Football Association by clubs from what would become the Irish Free State in 1921, the Irish Cup was the national cup competition for the whole of Ireland. Coleraine are the current holders after beating Cliftonville 3–1 in the 2018 final.
Since December 2015, the cup has been sponsored by Tennent's Lager – the competition's first title sponsor since 2012. It was previously sponsored by Nationwide Building Society, Bass Ireland Ltd and JJB Sports. 126 clubs entered the 2018–19 competition.Kenneth Branagh
Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh (; born 10 December 1960) is a Northern Irish actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. Branagh trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and in 2015 succeeded Richard Attenborough as its president. He has both directed and starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays, including Henry V (1989) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Director), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Othello (1995), Hamlet (1996) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay), Love's Labour's Lost (2000), and As You Like It (2006).
Branagh has starred in numerous other films and television series including Fortunes of War (1987), Woody Allen's Celebrity (1998), Wild Wild West (1999), as the voice of Miguel in The Road to El Dorado (2000), as SS leader Reinhard Heydrich in Conspiracy (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Warm Springs (2005), as Major General Henning von Tresckow in Valkyrie (2008), The Boat That Rocked (2009), Wallander (2008–2016), My Week with Marilyn (2011) as Sir Laurence Olivier (Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor), and as Royal Navy Commander Bolton in the action-thriller Dunkirk (2017). He has directed such films as Dead Again (1991), in which he also starred, Swan Song (1992) (Academy Award nominated for Best Live Action Short Film), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) in which he also starred, The Magic Flute (2006), Sleuth (2007), the blockbuster superhero film Thor (2011), the action thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) in which he also co-stars, the live-action film Cinderella (2015), and the mystery drama adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (2017), in which he also starred as Hercule Poirot.
He narrated the series Cold War (1998), the BBC documentary miniseries Walking with Dinosaurs (1999) (as well as The Ballad of Big Al), Walking with Beasts (2001) and Walking with Monsters (2005). Branagh has been nominated for five Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, and has won three BAFTAs, and an Emmy Award. He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2012 Birthday Honours and was knighted on 9 November 2012. He was made a Freeman of his native city of Belfast in January 2018.Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann [ˈt̪ˠuəʃcəɾˠt̪ˠ ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ] (listen); Ulster-Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom in the north-east of the island of Ireland, variously described as a country, province or region. Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2011, its population was 1,810,863, constituting about 30% of the island's total population and about 3% of the UK's population. Established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement, the Northern Ireland Assembly holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters, while other areas are reserved for the British government. Northern Ireland co-operates with the Republic of Ireland in some areas, and the Agreement granted the Republic the ability to "put forward views and proposals" with "determined efforts to resolve disagreements between the two governments".Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland by the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Unlike Southern Ireland, which would become the Irish Free State in 1922, the majority of Northern Ireland's population were unionists, who wanted to remain within the United Kingdom. Most of these were the Protestant descendants of colonists from Great Britain. However, a significant minority, mostly Catholics, were nationalists who wanted a united Ireland independent of British rule. Today, the former generally see themselves as British and the latter generally see themselves as Irish, while a distinct Northern Irish or Ulster identity is claimed both by a large minority of Catholics and Protestants and by many of those who are non-aligned.For most of the 20th century, when it came into existence, Northern Ireland was marked by discrimination and hostility between these two sides in what First Minister of Northern Ireland, David Trimble, called a "cold house" for Catholics. In the late 1960s, conflict between state forces and chiefly Protestant unionists on the one hand, and chiefly Catholic nationalists on the other, erupted into three decades of violence known as the Troubles, which claimed over 3,500 lives and caused over 50,000 casualties. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement was a major step in the peace process, including the decommissioning of weapons, although sectarianism and religious segregation still remain major social problems, and sporadic violence has continued.Northern Ireland has historically been the most industrialised region of Ireland. After declining as a result of the political and social turmoil of the Troubles, its economy has grown significantly since the late 1990s. The initial growth came from the "peace dividend" and the links which increased trade with the Republic of Ireland, continuing with a significant increase in tourism, investment and business from around the world. Unemployment in Northern Ireland peaked at 17.2% in 1986, dropping to 6.1% for June–August 2014 and down by 1.2 percentage points over the year, similar to the UK figure of 6.2%. 58.2% of those unemployed had been unemployed for over a year.
Prominent artists and sportspeople from Northern Ireland include Van Morrison, Rory McIlroy, Joey Dunlop, Wayne McCullough and George Best. Some people from Northern Ireland prefer to identify as Irish (e.g., poet Seamus Heaney and actor Liam Neeson) while others prefer to identify as British (e.g. actor Sir Kenneth Branagh). Cultural links between Northern Ireland, the rest of Ireland, and the rest of the UK are complex, with Northern Ireland sharing both the culture of Ireland and the culture of the United Kingdom. In many sports, the island of Ireland fields a single team, a notable exception being association football. Northern Ireland competes separately at the Commonwealth Games, and people from Northern Ireland may compete for either Great Britain or Ireland at the Olympic Games.Queen's University Belfast
Queen's University Belfast (informally Queen's or QUB) is a public research university in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The university was chartered in 1845, and opened in 1849 as "Queen's College, Belfast".
It offers academic degrees at various levels and across a broad subject range, with over 300 degree programmes available. Its president and vice-chancellor is Ian Greer. The annual income of the institution for 2017–18 was £369.2 million of which £91.7 million was from research grants and contracts, with an expenditure of £338.4 million.Queen's is a member of the Russell Group of leading research intensive universities, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, Universities Ireland and Universities UK. The university is associated with two Nobel laureates and one Turing Award laureate.Stephen Rea
Stephen Rea ( ray; born 31 October 1946) is an Irish film and stage actor. Rea has appeared in films such as V for Vendetta, Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire and Breakfast on Pluto. Rea was nominated for an Academy Award for his lead performance as Fergus in the 1992 film The Crying Game. He has during later years had important roles in the Hugo Blick TV series The Shadow Line and The Honourable Woman, for which he won a BAFTA Award.The Troubles
The Troubles (Irish: Na Trioblóidí) was an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century. Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an "irregular war" or "low-level war". The conflict began in the late 1960s and is usually deemed to have ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Although the Troubles primarily took place in Northern Ireland, at times the violence spilled over into parts of the Republic of Ireland, England, and mainland Europe.
The conflict was primarily political and nationalistic, fuelled by historical events. It also had an ethnic or sectarian dimension, although it was not a religious conflict. A key issue was the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. Unionists/loyalists, who were mostly Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists/republicans, who were mostly Catholics, wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.
The conflict began during a campaign to end discrimination against the Catholic/nationalist minority by the Protestant/unionist government and police force. The authorities attempted to suppress this protest campaign and were accused of police brutality; it was also met with violence from loyalists, who alleged it was a republican front. Increasing inter-communal violence, and conflict between nationalist youths and police, eventually led to riots in August 1969 and the deployment of British troops, who constructed 'peace walls' to keep the opposing communities apart. Some Catholics initially welcomed the army as a more neutral force, but it soon came to be seen as hostile and biased. The emergence of armed paramilitary organisations led to the subsequent warfare over the next three decades.
The main participants in the Troubles were republican paramilitaries such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA); loyalist paramilitaries such as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Ulster Defence Association (UDA); British state security forces—the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC); and political activists and politicians. The security forces of the Republic played a smaller role. Republican paramilitaries carried out a guerrilla campaign against the British security forces, as well as a bombing campaign against infrastructure, commercial and political targets. Loyalists targeted republicans/nationalists, and attacked the wider Catholic community in what they claimed was retaliation. At times there were bouts of sectarian tit-for-tat violence. The British security forces undertook both a policing and a counter-insurgency role, primarily against republicans. There were some incidents of collusion between British security forces and loyalists. The Troubles also involved numerous riots, mass protests and acts of civil disobedience, and led to segregation and the creation of no-go areas.
More than 3,500 people were killed in the conflict, of whom 52% were civilians, 32% were members of the British security forces, and 16% were members of paramilitary groups. There has been sporadic violence since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, including a campaign by anti-ceasefire republicans.Ulster University
Ulster University (Irish: Ollscoil Uladh, Ulster Scots: Ulstèr Universitie or Ulstèr Varsitie), legally the University of Ulster, is a multi-campus public university located in Northern Ireland. It is often referred to informally and unofficially as Ulster, or by the abbreviation UU. It is the largest university in Northern Ireland and the second-largest university on the island of Ireland, after the federal National University of Ireland.
Established in 1968 as the New University of Ulster, it merged with Ulster Polytechnic in 1984, incorporating its four Northern Irish campuses under the University of Ulster banner. The university incorporated its four campuses in 1984; located in Belfast, Coleraine, Magee College in Derry, and Jordanstown. The university has branch campuses in both London and Birmingham, and an extensive distance learning provision. The university rebranded as Ulster University from October 2014 and this included a revised visual identity.
It has one of the highest further study and employment rates in the UK, with over 92 per cent of graduates being in work or further study six months after graduation. The university is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, Universities Ireland and Universities UK.
|Climate data for Belfast (Stormont Castle)[a], elevation: 56 m or 184 ft, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1960–present|
|Record high °C (°F)||14.7
|Average high °C (°F)||8.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.1
|Average low °C (°F)||2.1
|Record low °C (°F)||−9.9
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||88.1
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||15.0||11.9||14.1||11.4||11.8||11.0||11.4||12.9||11.9||14.0||14.6||13.8||153.7|
|Climate data for Belfast (BFS)[b], elevation: 63 m or 207 ft, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1958–present|
|Record high °C (°F)||14.0
|Average high °C (°F)||7.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||4.4
|Average low °C (°F)||1.7
|Record low °C (°F)||−12.8
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||80.3
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||14.8||12.1||14.0||11.4||11.7||11.3||12.9||13.9||12.6||14.4||14.4||14.0||157.5|
|Average snowy days||5||5||4||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||3||19|
|Average relative humidity (%)||89||87||88||89||90||90||90||92||92||91||90||89||91|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||49.7||71.2||102.5||153.3||197.7||167.9||151.3||142.1||119.9||91.2||59.4||46.2||1,352.5|
|Source #1: Met Office NOAA (relative humidity and snow days 1961-1990)|
|Source #2: KNMI|
|District Electoral Areas|
|Parks and gardens|
Districts of Northern Ireland, 1972–2015
|Republic of Ireland|
National capital: London
Outdoor sculptures in Belfast