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irish ireland northern century

Belfast (pop. 300,000), seaport and capital of Northern Ireland, located at the mouth of the Lagan River, an inlet of the Irish Sea. The town was populated by about 2,000 English settlers in 1613, became a county borough in 1898, and was made capital of Northern Ireland in 1920. By the end of the 18th century Belfast had become the export center for the Irish linen trade and for the developing cotton industry. The city was long known for shipbuilding, but that industry has recently declined in importance. Although newer industries, including an aircraft factory, have been established, unemployment in the area is still the highest in the United Kingdom. For the past century, Belfast has been the scene of violent conflict between the Protestant majority and Catholic minority and, recently, of guerrilla fighting between the Irish Republican Army and British troops.

See also: Ireland.

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