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Birmingham's early history is that of a remote and marginal area.
Birmingham was the terminus for both of the world's first two long-distance railway lines: the 82 mile Grand Junction Railway of 1837 and the 112 mile London and Birmingham Railway of 1838.
Clockwise, from top: skyline of Birmingham City Centre from the south, Birmingham Town Hall, St Martin's church and Selfridges department store in the Bull Ring, the University of Birmingham, St Philip's Cathedral, the Library of Birmingham) is a city and metropolitan borough of the county of West Midlands, England, standing on the River Rea.
It is the largest and most populous city in the United Kingdom, as well as the centre of the second largest urban area (after London), with an estimated population of 1,101,360 as of 2014 A medium-sized market town in the medieval period, Birmingham grew to international prominence in the 18th century at the heart of the Midlands Enlightenment and subsequent 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 industrial society.
Birmingham's major cultural institutions – including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the Library of Birmingham and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts – enjoy international reputations, Birmingham's sporting heritage can be felt worldwide, with the concept of the Football League and tennis both originating from the city.
Its two professional football clubs are Birmingham City and Aston Villa, the latter having achieved the most success by winning seven league titles and one European Cup.