Belfast, a capital of Northern Ireland, is its main administrative, economic and cultural center. It is situated at the mouth of the river Lagan on the shores of Belfast Lough.
Belfast is one of the youngest capital cities in the world and it grows very fast. Today the city has a population of 400,000, nearly a third of the entire population of Northern Ireland, but in the 17th century it was only a village. Then, during the 19th century, the development of industries like linen, rope-making, engineering and the sea-trade doubled the town's size every ten years.
Nowadays Belfast is an important center of textile manufacture, aircraft production, electrical engineering and ship-building — it was here that the Titanic" was built and
sent out on her fatal voyage. Belfast has the largest in the world shipyard. It built many fine liners, warships and other vessels, which sail the seas of the world. Belfast is also
one of the largest seaports of the U.K. It handles most of the overseas trade of Northern Ireland. Its fine harbour welcomes ships from many parts of the world.
In the eastern part of Belfast you will see a magnificent Parliament building. This place is called Stormont. Stormont is also the name of the former autonomous Irish parliament, which existed from 1920 till 1972. It consisted of two hambers — the House of Commons and the Senate. The British Parliament has ruled Northern Ireland since 1972. Among other places of interest in Belfast are the Queen's University with many fine new buildings, the Cathedral of St. Anne and the Art Gallery.
The outskirts of Belfast are rich in beautiful parks. The Botanic Gardens contain a rich collection of rare plants. Some of the tropical plants are 100 years old. The Palm House built in 1850 usually attracts the visitors' attention.