Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, and the site has been occupied since the Bronze age. It is located at the mouth of the Lagan river on Belfast Lough, an inlet of the northern channel of the Irish Sea. The city is flanked by long lines of hills on two sides, the Antrim Hills in the north and Castlereagh Hills in the south.
Belfast was founded in 1177 when a castle defending a ford over the Lagan was built. Some of the city was later built on reclaimed land resulting from the draining of flood prone areas of the bay.The modern city is a product of the Industrial Revolution when the French Huguenots started the linen industry.
Belfast Lough is a long natural inlet ideal for shipping and some of the world's largest liners have been built here in the shipyards. (The Titanic was built in the Harland and Wolff shipyard.) Other industries associated with Belfast have been the manufacture of rayon, aircraft and machinery.
Agricultural and livestock products have formed the main exports. The decline of manufacturing industry in the early 1980's devastated the economy of the city and many parts have been regenerated in recent years.
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