Leicester is a city and unitary authority area in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest.
In the 2011 census, the population of the Leicester unitary authority was 330,000, making it the largest unitary authority in the East Midlands region, whilst 509,000 people lived in the wider Leicester Urban Area, making Leicester the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom and England’s eleventh largest urban area. It is the largest city and has the second largest urban area in the East Midlands region. Eurostat’s Larger Urban Zone listed the population of Leicester LUZ at 836,484 (2011). According to the 2011 census Leicester had the largest proportion of people aged 19-and-under in the East Midlands with 27 per cent.
“Unlike almost every other city in the UK, Leicester has retained a remarkable record of its past in buildings that still stand today”.Ancient Roman pavements and baths remain in Leicester from its early settlement as Ratae, a Roman military outpost in a region inhabited by the Celtic Corieltauvi tribe. Following the Roman withdrawal from Britain, the early medieval Ratae is shrouded in obscurity, but when the settlement was captured by the Danes it became one of five fortified towns important to the Danelaw and it appeared in the Domesday Book as “Ledecestre”. Leicester continued to grow throughout the Early Modern period as a market town, although it was the Industrial Revolution that facilitated a process of rapid unplanned urbanisation in the area.
A newly constructed rail and canal network routed through the area stimulated industrial growth in the 19th century, and Leicester became a major economic centre with a variety of manufacturers engaged in engineering, shoemaking and hosiery production. The economic success of these industries, and businesses ancillary to them, resulted in significant urban expansion into the surrounding countryside. Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England, it was the centre of the bishopric from around 670, endowing it with city status. However, it lost city status in the 11th century during a time of struggle between the church and the aristocracy. The boundaries of Leicester were extended several times in the 19th and 20th centuries; it became a county borough in 1889, and was re-granted city status in 1919.
Today, Leicester is located at the intersection of the north/south Midland Main Line and east/west Birmingham/Leicester/Cambridge CrossCountry railway lines and at the confluence of the M1 / M69 motorways and the A46 / A6 trunk routes. The City and metropolitan area is culturally diverse, with well established South Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities, in addition to more recent influxes from European Community countries, amongst others. Leicester is a major centre of learning: the University of Leicester is famous for the quality of its teaching and research; De Montfort University is very well regarded in many of its specialist fields. The City region also hosts many other notable institutions of higher and further education.
On 20 June 2013, Leicester was announced as one of four shortlisted cities for the second UK City of Culture award. Kingston upon Hull was announced as the winner on 20 November
On 13 November 2014 Leicester City Council passed a motion resolving to “..boycott any produce originating from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank until such time as it complies with international law and withdraws from Palestinian Occupied territories.”