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Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland. The city has been troubled by violence between Roman Catholics and Protestants for years, which was euphemistically called ‘The Troubles’ by the British. The city has become much more peaceful after the peace treaties of the late nineties, especially in recent years Belfast has flourished. Many remains of ‘The Troubles’ are still visible and they now, funnily enough serve as tourist attractions!
In the early seventies the city had 600,000 inhabitants, later on many people migrated to suburban areas. The Belfast Metropolitan Area currently has 600,000 inhabitants, but less than half (280,000 people) live in the city itself.
Belfast is located on the east coast, at the mouth of the River Lagan. The hills on the northwest of the city, supposedly have been the inspiration for the novel Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.
After the peace agreements of the nineties, the confidence of investors has rapidly increased, at the same time, the city government initiated large projects in order to make Belfast more attractive. The best examples of the city's improvement are Victoria Square, the area surrounding the Cathedral, the Titanic Quarters and the Waterfront Hall, as well as the beautiful renaissance style City Hall which has been thoroughly renovated.
Belfast used to be an important center for shipbuilding, the Titanic was built in the city's shipyards, the industry has now almost completely disappeared. In recent years high-tech companies increased their share in the local economy.
Also the importance of tourism is growing, the city receives 8 million people per year and this number is still increasing.
Belfast has two airports. Belfast International Airport is located 21 kilometers to the northwest of the city (alongside the A57 highway) and handles both domestic and international flights. The smaller George Best Belfast City Airport (named after the soccer legend who died in 2005) handles flights to principally Ireland and Great Britain. This airport is located only three kilometers away from the city center.
The city´s public transport consists of bus lines that mainly run from the center of the city to the outskirts. The buses run frequently and they dispose over exclusive traffic lanes. The connections between the suburbs and the city center are excellent because of the star-shaped network, however, there are no direct connections between the suburban districts itself.
There are train connections with Bangor, Lisburn, Portadown, and the Irish capital city Dublin among others.
The car is the favorite means of transport of the inhabitants of Northern Ireland, such is noticeable by observing the traffic chaos of the morning and evening rush hours. There is however an overdue maintenance of the roads, but infrastructure improvements is being worked on. Outside of rush hours you can drive perfectly around the Northern Ireland capital city.
There are various parking garages in Belfast, but rates are rather high. Also be aware that the police keep close control on parking violations!
Part of the city center is exclusively accessible by local buses and pedestrians.
Along with the touristic boom, the offer of hotels has increased considerably in recent years. There is a vast range of hotels in all price categories. Because of emerging tourism we recommend that you book your accommodation well in advance, especially during summer months and around Christmas.
For more information about Belfast, we recommend Google and the following sources: