Belfast Metropolitan Area

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Belfast Metropolitan Area
Metropolitan Area
Belfast Metropolitan Area is located in Northern Ireland
Belfast Metropolitan Area
Belfast Metropolitan Area
Location in Northern Ireland
Coordinates: 54°35′49″N 5°55′48″W / 54.597°N 5.930°W / 54.597; -5.930Coordinates: 54°35′49″N 5°55′48″W / 54.597°N 5.930°W / 54.597; -5.930
Sovereign State United Kingdom
Constituent Country Northern Ireland
County County Antrim / County Down
 • UK Parliament
 • EU Parliament Northern Ireland
 • Total 370 sq mi (960 km2)
Time zone GMT (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) BST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Area code(s) 028

The Belfast Metropolitan Area is a grouping of council areas which include commuter towns and overspill from Belfast, Northern Ireland, with a population of 1,217,162 in 2017, combining the Belfast, Lisburn, Newtownabbey, North Down, Castlereagh and Carrickfergus districts. This equates to 65.1% of Northern Ireland's population.


The area was first officially classified as a Metropolitan Area in the late 1990s when the British government began to prepare for a cohesive plan that would include the Belfast Region. Six local government districts – Belfast, Castlereagh, Carrickfergus, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and North Down, were identified as the key areas within the Metropolitan Area. The continuous built-up area centred on Belfast, which is contained within these six districts, is defined as the Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area.[1] The Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area had a population of 579,276 in 2001.[2]

The Area is made up of established towns, their overspill and the general con-joining of settlements as Belfast expands. Established towns include Carrickfergus, Bangor, Lisburn and Holywood. Many of these towns were established and important long before Belfast rose to prominence; Carrickfergus, for example, was the Norman capital of the northern part of Ireland.[citation needed] Bangor had been an important centre of Christianity and learning from its foundation in 555 AD. The recent re-classification of Lisburn as a city does not change its position within the Metropolitan Area.

Places in the conurbation[edit]

Rank Urban Area[2] Population

(2001 Census)[2]

1 Belfast Urban Area 863,000
2 Lisburn Urban Area 130,000
3 Newtownabbey Urban Area 93,350
4 Bangor 70,000
5 Castlereagh Urban Area 70,000
6 Carrickfergus 40,000
7 Holywood Urban Area 21,000
8 Carryduff 6,564
9 Greenisland 5,067
10 Groomsport & Crawfordsburn 1,401
11 Helen's Bay 1,356
12 Milltown 1,356
13 Seahill 1,179
Total Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area 1,217,162

2001 census[edit]

At the 2001 census, the demographic characteristics of the people living in Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area (BMUA) were as follows:[3]

  • 22.0% were aged under 16 years and 19.2% were aged 60 and over
  • 47.4% of the population were male and 52.6% were female
  • 40.5% were from a Catholic background, 55.5% were from a Protestant background.
  • 4.3% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed

Population maps[edit]

In the 2011 UK Census, the distributions of population, religion, national identity and proportion of immigrants within the Belfast Metropolitan Area, were as follows.

Population density 
Percentage who were Catholic or brought up Catholic 
Most commonly stated national identity 
Percentage born outside the UK and the Republic of Ireland 


See also[edit]