Birmingham ( [bɜːmɪŋəm]) is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands county of England. Birmingham is the largest of England's core cities, and is often considered to be the second city of the United Kingdom. The City of Birmingham has a population of 1,006,500 (2006 estimate).
The city's reputation was forged as a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, a fact which led to Birmingham being known as "the workshop of the world" or the "city of a thousand trades". Although Birmingham's industrial importance has declined, it has developed into a national commercial centre, being named as the third best place in the United Kingdom to locate a business. In 1998, Birmingham hosted the G8 summit at the International Convention Centre, the birthplace of exhibitions in 1850 and remains a popular location for conventions today.
Birmingham is situated just to the west of the geographical centre of England on the Birmingham Plateau, the area crossed by Britain's main north-south watershed between the basins of the Rivers Severn and Trent. Birmingham is located in the centre of the West Midlands region of England.
The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery has renowned displays of artwork that include a leading collection of work by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the world's largest collection of works by Edward Burne-Jones.
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is both an art gallery and concert hall. It also has one of the world's most detailed and largest coin collections. Cadbury World is a museum showing visitors the stages and steps of chocolate production and the history of chocolate and the company.
There are over 8,000 acres (3,200 ha) of parkland open spaces in Birmingham. The largest of the parks is Sutton Park covering 2,400 acres (970 ha) making it the largest urban nature reserve in Europe. The city centre consists of numerous public squares including Centenary Square, Chamberlain Square and Victoria Square.
Although Birmingham grew to prominence as a manufacturing and engineering centre, its economy today is dominated by the service sector. Tourism is also an increasingly important part of the local economy. Despite the decline of manufacturing in the city several significant industrial plants remain, including Jaguar Cars in Castle Bromwich and Cadbury Trebor Bassett in Bournville.
Birmingham has a number of notable residents from various walks of life. Joseph and Neville Chamberlain are two of the most well-known political figures who have lived in Birmingham. Author J. R. R. Tolkien was brought up in Birmingham with many locations in the city such as Moseley bog, Sarehole Mill and Perrott's Folly supposedly being the inspiration for various scenes in “The Lord of the Rings”. Writer W. H. Auden grew up in the Harborne area of the city. Birmingham has also produced a number of popular bands and musicians. The Streets, UB40, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Wizzard and Duran Duran were all popular bands, whilst musicians Jeff Lynne, Ozzy Osbourne, John Lodge, Nick Mason, Roy Wood, Jamelia, and Steve Winwood all were very successful.