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Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the English West
Midlands. It is considered by some to be the UK's "second city". It has
the largest local authority in the United Kingdom, and is the second
largest by urban area population. It is also one of England's core
The City of Birmingham has a population of 991,900 (2003 estimate).
Along with Wolverhampton, Solihull and the towns of the Black Country,
Birmingham forms the largest part of a large conurbation; the "West
Midlands conurbation", which has a population of 2,275,000.
The metropolitan area of which Birmingham is part is defined by the
government as the West Midlands county, which also includes the city of
Coventry and has a population of 2,575,000, but in practice includes
parts of the surrounding counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire,
Shropshire and Worcestershire. Based upon commuting and economic
influence, the metropolitan area effecitvely extends over much of the
West Midlands region.
The city is commonly known by its nickname Brum (from the local name
Brummagem), and its people as Brummies. Birmingham is home to the
distinctive Brummie accent and dialect.
Birmingham is an ethnically and culturally diverse city. Around 30% of
Birmingham's population is of non-white ethnicity; at the time of the
2001 census, 70.4% of the population was White (including 3.2% Irish),
19.5% Asian or Asian British, 6.1% Black or Black British, 0.5% Chinese,
and 3.5% of mixed or other ethnic heritage.
The main article is at History of Birmingham; the following is a
Birmingham has a recorded history going back 1000 years. In this time,
it has grown from a tiny Anglo-Saxon farming village into a major
industrial and commercial city.
The Birmingham area was occupied in Roman times, with several military
roads and a large fort. Birmingham started life as a small Anglo-Saxon
hamlet in the Early Middle Ages. It was first recorded in written
documents by the Domesday Book of 1086 as a small village, worth only 20
In the 12th century, Birmingham was granted a charter to hold a market,
which in time became known as the Bull Ring. As a convenient location
for trade, Birmingham soon developed into a small but thriving market
By the 16th century, Birmingham's access to supplies of iron ore and
coal meant that metalworking industries became established. In the 17th
century, Birmingham became an important manufacturing town with a
reputation for producing small arms. Birmingham manufacturers supplied
Oliver Cromwell's forces with much of their weaponry during the English
Civil War. Arms manufacture in Birmingham became a staple trade and was
concentrated in the area known as the Gun Quarter.
During the Industrial Revolution (from the mid 18th century onwards),
Birmingham grew rapidly into a major industrial centre. Unlike many
other English industrial cities such as Manchester, industry in
Birmingham was based upon small workshops rather than large factories or
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