Belfort is a city in north-east France in the Franche-Comté région, situated between Lyon and Strasbourg. It is the biggest town and the administrative town of the Territoire de Belfort département in the Franche-Comté region. Belfort is located at from Paris, from Strasbourg, from Lyon and from Zürich. The residents of the city are called ‘’Belfortains’’. It is located on the Savoureuse, on the strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhône – the Belfort Gap (Trouée de Belfort) or Burgundian Gate (Porte de Bourgogne). The city of Belfort has 50,199 inhabitants. Together with its suburbs and satellite towns, Belfort forms the largest agglomeration (metropolitan area) in Franche-Comté region with an urban population of 308,601 inhabitants.
Previously an Austrian possession, Belfort was transferred to France by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), that ended the Thirty Years' War. The town's fortifications were extended and developed by the military architect Vauban for Louis XIV.
Until 1871, Belfort was part of the département of Haut-Rhin, in Alsace. The Siege of Belfort, between 3 November 1870 and 18 February 1871, was successfully resisted until the garrison was ordered to surrender 21 days after the armistice between France and Prussia. Because this part of Alsace was French speaking, while the rest of Alsace was German speaking, the area around Belfort was not annexed by the Prussians. It formed, as it still does, the Territoire de Belfort. The siege is commemorated by a huge statue, the Lion of Belfort, by Frédéric Bartholdi.
Alsatians who sought a new French home in Belfort made a significant contribution to its industry (see Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques).
The town was bombarded by the German army during World War I and occupied by it during World War II. In November 1944 the retreating German army held the French First Army before the town until French Commandos made a successful night attack on the Salbert Fort. Belfort was liberated on 22 November 1944.