Strabane has a population of around 17,000 and is the second-largest town in Tyrone, after Omagh. It lies on the east bank of the River Foyle and is roughly equidistant from Omagh, Derry and Letterkenny. The River Foyle marks the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. On the other side of the river (across Lifford Bridge) is the smaller town of Lifford, which is the county town of County Donegal. The River Mourne flows through the centre of the town, and meets the River Finn to form the Foyle. Strabane suffered huge economic damage in 1987 when much of the centre of the town was flooded.
Strabane once had the dubious distinction of the highest unemployment rate in the Industrial World, during the height of The Troubles. It is one of the most economically deprived towns in the United Kingdom.
In August 2005, a Channel 4 television programme presented by property experts Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer, named Strabane as the eighth-worst place to live in the United Kingdom, largely because of the high unemployment rate. Strabane had been moved out of the top 20 in the 2007 edition.
Strabane suffered extensive damage during the Troubles, from the early 1970s and continuing throughout much of the 1990s, with bombings and shootings commonplace: Irish Republican paramilitary groups, mainly the Provisional Irish Republican Army, regularly attacked the town's British army and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) bases. Strabane was once the most bombed town in Europe per size and was the most bombed town in Northern Ireland. Many civilians and members of the security forces were killed or injured in the area over the course of the Troubles.
Many British Army regiments from England, Scotland and Wales served in Strabane at various times during the Troubles. As a result of the Good Friday Agreement, there is no longer a British Army presence in the town.