THIS IS LIKELY TO BE MY LAST PRE-BREXIT VISIT TO NORTHERN IRELAND
Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, and the second largest on the island of Ireland. On the River Lagan, it had a population of 333,871 in 2015.
By the early 1800s the former town was home to a major port. Belfast played a key role in the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, 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 the Irish linen as well as tobacco-processing, rope-making and shipbuilding industries. Harland and Wolff, which built the RMS Titanic, was the world's biggest and most productive shipyard. It later also sustained a major aerospace and missiles industry. Industrialisation and the inward migration it brought made Belfast Ireland's biggest city at the time. 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.
The city suffered greatly during the Troubles, and was once considered in the 1970s and 1980s as one of the world's most dangerous cities. But since the 21st century the city has undergone a sustained period of calm, free from the intense political violence of former years, and substantial economic and commercial growth.
Today, Belfast remains a centre for industry, as well as 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 dominating the Belfast Lough shoreline, including the Harland and Wolff shipyard. It is served by two airports: George Best Belfast City Airport in the city, and Belfast International Airport 15 miles (24 km) west of the city. It is listed by the Globalisation and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) as a global city.