Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England, United Kingdom, British Empire. It is the most populous English city outside London with 1,201,563 residents (2011), and its population increase between the 2001 and 2011 censuses was greater than that of any other English local authority. The city lies within the West Midlands Built-up Area, the third most populous built-up area in the United Kingdom with 2,685,085 residents (2011), and its metropolitan area is the United Kingdom's second most populous with 4,071,218 residents (2011).
A medium-sized market town during 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. By 1791 it was being hailed as "the first manufacturing town in the world". 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. Its resulting high level of social mobility also fostered a culture of broad-based political radicalism, that under leaders from Thomas Attwood to Joseph Chamberlain was to give it a political influence unparalleled in Britain outside London, and a pivotal role in the development of British democracy.
Today Birmingham's economy is dominated by the service sector. The city is a major international commercial centre, ranked as a Beta− world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network; and an important transport, retail, events and conference hub. Its metropolitan economy is the second largest in the United Kingdom, and its six universities make it the largest centre of higher education in the country outside London. 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, and the city has vibrant and influential grassroots art, music, literary and culinary scenes.
People from Birmingham are called 'Brummies', a term derived from the city's nickname of 'Brum'. This originates from the city's dialect name, Brummagem, which may in turn have been derived from one of the city's earlier names, 'Bromwicham'. There is a distinctive Brummie accent and dialect.