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Before it become part of the Roman Empire in the 2nd Century the city that is now called Trieste, in northeastern coastal Italy, was populated by native European clans. As part of Rome Trieste -- then called Tergeste -- became a military and trade center because of its strategic coastal location. After Rome's demise in the 5th Century Trieste became part of the Byzantine Empire, which it would remain for another 300 years. After a brief period of self-rule in the 12th Century, Trieste willingly became a part of Austria under Duke Leopold III von Hapsburg for its own protection.
Aside from a brief period during the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th Century when the city became part of the ''Illyric Provinces" under French rule, Trieste remained part of the Empire of Austria-Hungary until 1918. The city attracted many artists, writers (James Joyce to name but one), and musicians as it was considered one of the more worldly cities in Europe at the time. Trieste became part of Italy at the end of World War I, but suffered Nazi occupation toward the end of WW II, only to be "liberated" by Marshal Tito's communist army on May 1, 1945. The 40-day occupation by the Yugoslav forces is still remembered as one of the darkest moments in the city's millenary history. Trieste was then jointly administered by the UK and US military until Oct. 26, 1954, when it was finally returned to Italy.
Today Trieste is a beautiful border city with a wide mix of cultures from Italian, to Slavic and German, although the character of the city and its population remains predominantly Italian. Many languages are spoken throughout its old neighborhoods. Its location on the Adriatic Sea also makes it an ideal destination for many tourists from Eastern and Central Europe.