Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann [ˈt̪ˠuəʃcəɾˠt̪ˠ ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ]; Ulster-Scots: Norlin Airlann) is variously described as a country, province, or region, which is part of the United Kingdom. Located in the northeast of the island of Ireland, 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 (colloquially referred to as Stormont after its location) 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 several 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”.
Belfast (/ˈbɛlfɑːst/ BEL-fahst; from Irish: Béal Feirste, meaning “mouth of the sand-bank ford”, Irish pronunciation: [bʲeːlˠ ˈfʲɛɾˠ(ə)ʃtʲə]) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and the second-largest on the island of Ireland. It had a population of 343,542 as of 2019. Belfast suffered greatly in the Troubles: in the 1970s and 1980s it was one of the world’s most dangerous cities, with a homicide rate around 31 per 100,000.
By the early 19th century, Belfast became a major port. It played an important role in the Industrial Revolution in Ireland, becoming briefly 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 largest shipyard. Belfast as of 2019 has a major aerospace and missiles industry. Industrialisation, and the inward migration it brought, made Belfast Northern Ireland’s biggest city. Following the partition of Ireland in 1922, Belfast became the seat of government for Northern Ireland. Belfast’s status as a global industrial centre ended in the decades after the Second World War.
Belfast is still a 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 2020.