Largest Cities in Northern Ireland

Houses overlooking Long Hole Harbour in Bangor, Northern Ireland.
Houses overlooking Long Hole Harbour in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is a country which is one of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. It is located at the northern tip of the island of Ireland and shares its only land border with the nation of Ireland to the south. Its approximate population as of 2019 is 1,885,400 people who predominantly speak the English language. Most of the residents of Northern Ireland are Christians. The five largest cities in Northern Ireland are Belfast, which is also the capital, Derry, Lisburn, Newtownabbey, and Bangor. 

Largest Cities in Northern Ireland


Belfast is the largest as well as the capital city in Northern Ireland. The town has a population of 333,000 people. Belfast played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution as it was a major port in the 19th century. The city is also known for its contribution in the shipbuilding industry; especially with regards to the building of the famous RMS Titanic ship. Today, Belfast’s economy is driven by several industries such as tourism, industries, and service sector. Politically, Belfast is home to the “Troubles Conflict” which took place in the 20th century.


Inhabitants of Derry are approximately 85,016 in number. Consequently, Derry is the second largest city in Northern Ireland by the total population. Also known as Londonderry, the town is popular for the Derry’s Walls that has remained intact since the 17th century. The many historic sites are evidence of the fact that Derry is among the oldest continuously inhabited regions in Ireland.


The population of Lisburn is 71,465 which makes it the third largest city in Northern Ireland. Lisburn was a borough before it was granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. It is part of the Belfast Metropolitan Area. The town experiences a maritime climate that is characterized by mild winters and cool summers. Lisburn contains notable landmarks such as the Theipval Barracks and Laurelhill Sportszone. The town received the European City of Sport Award of 2013.


The fourth largest city in Northern Ireland is Newtownabbey which comprises of 62,056 inhabitants. Located north of Belfast, the town is a residential area as much as it hosts several computer and engineering industries. Newtownabbey was formed by the merging of seven villages namely Whiteabbey, Carnmoney, Jordanstown, Glengormley, Whitehouse, Monkstown, and Whitewell in 1958. The city is part of the Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area.


Bangor is the fifth largest Northern Ireland city with a population of 58,388. It is the most ancient city in Northern Ireland, but also among the smallest cities in the UK. Bangor’s population is dominated by university students. The Queen granted Bangor the city status in 1974 and is currently part of the Down County. Bangor Cathedral is a religious site that has been existence since the 6th century and is an indicator of the rich heritage of Bangor.

Challenges Facing Northern Ireland’s Cities

The first challenge that dominates Northern Ireland’s cities is the infiltration of drugs and substance abuse into the communities. Other social issues include mental issues, lack of employment, educational underachievement, and trans-generational trauma. 

Largest Cities in Northern Ireland


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