Birmingham is a large city in the United Kingdom. It has a little more than a million inhabitants, with the surrounding area it is almost three million. This makes Birmingham one of the largest cities in Europe. In Great Britain only London has more residents. Birmingham is in the middle of England. The region that surrounds Birmingham is therefore called "The Midlands".
The city was founded at the time of the Great Migration. They were named after an Anglo-Saxon tribe. In the beginning, Birmingham was sparsely populated because it was not so easy to farm. In the twelfth century the city received the right to hold a market from the king. This made it more important in the region.
However, Birmingham only got really big when industrialization began. Because a lot of coal was found nearby, which was needed for the steam engines, Birmingham grew into an important industrial city. Above all steel, weapons, textiles and chemicals were produced. But many service companies such as insurance companies and banks were also founded. A major entrepreneur during this period was Matthew Boulton. He is pictured on the 50 pound note.
Today Birmingham is one of the most important centers in the country in terms of culture, business and education. Many important companies and universities have their headquarters there. Because Birmingham was destroyed in the war, today's cityscape is modern. The cathedral from the 18th century is an old landmark. It is built in the Baroque style and is the seat of the city's bishop.
Just outside of Birmingham is Stratford-upon-Avon. The poet and playwright William Shakespeare was born there. The place is popular with tourists because of the wooden houses in the old town.
There are two major football clubs in Birmingham that are rivals: Birmingham City and Aston Villa. Aston Villa has won the English Championship and the English Cup many times.