Belfast - Demography

Demography

For more details on this topic, see List of Belfast people.

In the 2001 census, the population within the city limits (the Belfast Urban Area) was 276,459, while 579,554 people lived in the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area. This made it the fifteenth-largest city in the United Kingdom, but the eleventh-largest conurbation. Belfast experienced a huge growth in population around the first half of the twentieth century. This rise slowed and peaked around the start of the Troubles with the 1971 census showing almost 600,000 people in the Belfast Urban Area. Since then, the inner city numbers have dropped dramatically as people have moved to swell the Greater Belfast suburb population. The 2001 census population within the same Urban Area, had fallen to 277,391 people, with 579,554 people living in the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area. The 2001 census records roughly 81,650 people from Catholic backgrounds and 79,650 people from Protestant backgrounds of working age living in Belfast. The population density in the same year was 2,415 people/km² (compared to 119 for the rest of Northern Ireland). As with many cities, Belfast's inner city is currently characterised by the elderly, students and single young people, while families tend to live on the periphery. Socio-economic areas radiate out from the Central Business District, with a pronounced wedge of affluence extending out the Malone Road and Upper Malone Road to the south. An area of greater deprivation extends to the west of the city. The areas around the Falls and Shankill Roads are the most deprived wards in Northern Ireland.

Despite a period of relative peace, most areas and districts of Belfast still reflect the divided nature of Northern Ireland as a whole. Many areas are still highly segregated along ethnic, political and religious lines, especially in working-class neighbourhoods. These zones – 'Catholic' or 'Republican' on one side and 'Protestant', or 'Loyalist' on the other – are invariably marked by flags, graffiti and murals. Segregation has been present throughout the history of Belfast, but has been maintained and increased by each outbreak of violence in the city. This escalation in segregation, described as a "ratchet effect", has shown little sign of decreasing during times of peace. When violence flares, it tends to be in interface areas. The highest levels of segregation in the city are in west Belfast with many areas greater than 90% Catholic. Opposite but comparatively high levels are seen in the predominantly Protestant east Belfast. Areas where segregated working-class areas meet are known as interface areas.

Ethnic minority communities have been in Belfast since the 1930s. The largest groups are Chinese and Irish travellers. Since the expansion of the European Union, numbers have been boosted by an influx of Eastern European immigrants. Census figures (2001) showed that Belfast has a total ethnic minority population of 4,584 or 1.3% of the population. Over half of these live in south Belfast, where they comprise 2.63% of the population. The majority of the estimated 5,000 Muslims and 200 Hindu families living in Northern Ireland live in the Greater Belfast area.

Read more about this topic:  Belfast

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