Birmingham is a听city听and听metropolitan borough听in the听West Midlands听ofEngland. It is the听most populous British city听outside听London听with 1,085,400 residents (2012 est.),[1]听and its population increase of 88,400 residents between the 2001 and 2011 censuses was greater than that of any other British local authority.[2]听The city lies within the听West Midlands Built-up Area, the听third most populous听built-up area in the United Kingdom with 2,440,986 residents (2011 census),[3]听and its听metropolitan area听is the United Kingdom's听second most populous听with 3,701,107 residents (2012 est.).[4]

A medium-sized听market town听during the medieval period, Birmingham grew to international prominence in the 18th century at the heart of the听Midlands Enlightenment听and subsequent听Industrial Revolution, which saw the town at the forefront of worldwide advances in science, technology and economic development, producing a series of innovations that laid many of the foundations of modern听industrial society.[5]听By 1791 it was being hailed as "the first manufacturing town in the world".[6]听Birmingham's distinctive economic profile, with thousands of small workshops practising a wide variety of specialised and highly skilled trades, encouraged exceptional levels of creativity and innovation and provided a diverse and resilient economic base for industrial prosperity that was to last into the final quarter of the 20th century.[7]听Its resulting high level of听social mobility听also fostered a culture of broad-based听political radicalism, that under leaders from听Thomas Attwood听to听Joseph Chamberlain听was to give it a political influence unparalleled in Britain outside London, and a pivotal role in the development of British democracy.[8]