Belfast (from the Irish: Béal Feirste meaning "Sandy ford at river mouth") is the capital of Northern Ireland. It is the largest urban area in Northern Ireland and the province of Ulster and the second-largest city on the island of Ireland. 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 is situated on Ireland's eastern coast. The city is flanked to the northwest by a series of hills, including Cavehill, which is thought to be the inspiration for Jonathan Swift's novel, Gulliver's Travels. Belfast is located at the western end of Belfast Lough and at the mouth of 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 1912, Harland and Wolff had the largest shipyard in the world. Originally a town in County Antrim, the County borough of Belfast was created when it was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888.

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 University of Ulster also maintains a campus in the city, which concentrates on fine art, design and architecture.

Areas and DistrictsEdit

Belfast expanded very rapidly from small market town to industrial city during the course of the nineteenth 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.

Including the City Centre, the city can be divided into five areas with North Belfast, East Belfast, South Belfast, and West Belfast. Each of these is a parliamentary constituency. The city is divided into fourteen neighbourhoods in the inner-city. 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 corridors) 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.

Residential districtsEdit

The principal residential districts are;

Tower BlocksEdit

  • New Town
  • Divis Tower
  • Kilbroney House
  • Carnet House
  • Clarawood House
  • Carncoole House
  • Monkscoole House
  • Abottscoole House
  • Rathcoole House
  • Breda House
  • Belvoir House
  • Dyncroft House
  • Moveen House
  • Moylena House
  • Dill House
  • Churchill House, Belfast
  • Templer House
  • Alamein House
  • Artillery House
  • Alexander House
  • Alanbrook House
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