Manchester is a city in the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester with a population of 560,715 in 2013; it lies within the United Kingdom's second most populous urban area which has a population of nearly 2.85 million. Manchester is in the south-central part of North West England, fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council and the city's inhabitants are referred to as Mancunians.
The recorded history of Manchester began with the civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium, which was established around 79 AD on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell. Historically part of Lancashire, although areas of Cheshire, south of the River Mersey were incorporated into the city during the 20th century. Throughout the Middle Ages Manchester remained a manorial township but began to expand "at an astonishing rate" around the turn of the 19th century. Manchester's unplanned urbanisation was brought on by a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, and resulted in it becoming the world's first industrialised city. The building of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761 built to transport coal triggered an early 19th century factory building boom which transformed Manchester from a township into a major mill town and borough that culminated in city status in 1853 - thus becoming the first new British city in over 300 years. In 1877, Manchester Town Hall was built and in 1894 the Manchester Ship Canal, at the time the longest river navigation canal in the world, opened, creating the Port of Manchester and linking the city to sea. Manchester's fortunes decreased after the Second World War due to deindustrialisation. However, investment spurred by the 1996 Manchester bombing led to extensive regeneration, particularly in the city centre.
The city is notable for its architecture, culture, music scene, media links, scientific and engineering output, social impact, sports clubs and transport connections. Known through time as a hotbed for radical ideas, Manchester was the site of the world's first railway station and is where scientists first split the atom, and developed the first stored-program computer. Manchester is also regarded as the birthplace of women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, and both capitalism and communism. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels began to write the Communist Manifesto at Chetham Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world.
Today Manchester is ranked as a beta world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Its metropolitan economy is the third largest in the United Kingdom with a GDP of $97.13bn (2012 est., PPP). Manchester is the third-most visited city in the UK by foreign visitors, after London and Edinburgh.