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town, capital of the Territoire de Belfort, Franche-Comte region, eastern France, on the Savoureuse River, southwest of Mulhouse. Inhabited in Gallo-Roman times, Belfort was first recorded in the 13th century as a possession of the counts of Montbeliard, who granted it a charter in 1307. Passing later to the archdukes of Austria, it was ceded by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1648) to Louis XIV, who gave it to Cardinal Mazarin. Because it controlled the strategic Trouee (Gap) de Belfort, between the Vosges and the Jura, the town was often besieged. In World War I it was successfully defended by the French, but it was occupied by the Germans in World War II. Its fortified old quarter, on the east bank of the Savoureuse, contains the castle and public buildings. In front of the hotel de ville (1721-24) is F.A. Bartholdi's majestic statue, the Lion of Belfort (36 feet [11 metres] high, 72 feet [22 metres] long), which commemorates the 104-day siege of the Franco-German War (1870-71). Belfort is an important centre for electro-metallurgical industries, manufacturing products such as turbines and railway rolling stock. The recent development of plastics and electronics industries has helped diversify the industrial structure as has the growth of services, including tourism. A centre for higher education, Belfort is home to the University of Franche-Comte. Pop. (1990) 50,125; (1999) 50,417.