Birmingham is a significant city in England’s West Midlands and a metropolitan borough. With a population of 1,101,360 people in 2014, it is the biggest and most populated British city outside of London. With a population of 2,440,986 at the 2011 census, the city is part of the West Midlands Built-up Region, the UK’s third most populous urban area. With a population of 3.8 million, Birmingham is the UK’s second most populous metropolitan region. Birmingham is also Europe’s ninth most populated metropolitan region.
Birmingham grew to international prominence in the 18th century as the epicenter of the Midlands Enlightenment and subsequent Industrial Revolution, which saw the town at the forefront of global advances in science, technology, and economic development, producing a series of innovations that laid many of the foundations of modern industrial society. It was dubbed “the first industrial town in the world” by 1791. With thousands of small workshops practising a wide range of specialized and highly skilled trades, Birmingham’s unique economic profile encouraged exceptional levels of creativity and innovation, and provided a diverse and resilient economic base for industrial prosperity that lasted into the final quarter of the twentieth century. The industrial steam engine, perhaps the most significant innovation in British history, was created in Birmingham. Its high degree of social mobility produced a culture of broad-based political radicalism, which gave it a political influence unequalled in Britain outside London and a crucial part in the formation of British democracy under leaders ranging from Thomas Attwood to Joseph Chamberlain. Birmingham was brutally bombarded by the German Luftwaffe from the summer of 1940 until the spring of 1943, in what is known as the Birmingham Blitz. Damage to the city’s infrastructure, combined with a planned program of destruction and new construction by planners, resulted in considerable demolition and redevelopment in the decades following.
The service sector now dominates Birmingham’s economy. The city is a large international commercial center that has been designated as a beta global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, as well as a major transportation, retail, events, and conference hub. With a GDP of $121.1 billion in 2014, its metropolitan economy is the second biggest in the United Kingdom, and its six universities make it the country’s largest center of higher education outside of London. Birmingham’s major cultural institutions, such as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Library, and Barber Institute of Fine Arts, have international reputations, and the city’s grassroots art, music, literary, and culinary scenes are vibrant and influential. Birmingham is the UK’s fourth most visited city by international tourists.
Birmingham’s athletic legacy is well-known across the globe, with the Football League and lawn tennis both having their origins in the city. Its most successful football team, Aston Villa, having won seven league championships and one European Cup, while Birmingham City is the other professional club.
Birmingham residents are known as Brummies, a phrase derived from the city’s nickname, Brum. This is taken from Brummagem, the city’s dialect name, which may have been derived from Bromwicham, one of the city’s older names. A unique Brummie accent and dialect may be heard.