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Birmingham - England
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city aside from London. Birmingham grew to international prominence in the 18th century at the core of an industrial revolution which saw Birmingham at the forefront of worldwide developments in science, technology and economic innovations that laid much of the foundations for modern industrial societies. Birmingham's distinctive economy with thousands of small workshops practicing a wide variety of specialised and highly-skilled trades, encouraged outstanding levels of creativity and innovation. This provided a diverse and resilient economic base for an industrial prosperity that was to last into the final quarter of the 20th century. Its resulting high level of social mobility also fostered a culture of broad-based political radicalism, that under leaders such as Thomas Attwood and Joseph Chamberlain, gave it a political influence unparalleled in Britain aside from that of London and earned it an important role in the development of the British democracy. Two of Britain's largest banks were founded in Birmingham. Lloyds Bank now known as Lloyds Banking Group was founded in 1765 and the Midland Bank, which is now HSBC Bank was founded in 1836, as well as Ketley's Building Society, the world's first building society, which was founded in Birmingham in 1775.In 2010, Cushman & Wakefield stated that Birmingham was the third best place in the United Kingdom to locate a business and rated it as the 18th best in Europe. Tourism is also an growing part of the local economy. With major visitor facilities such as the International Convention Centre and National Exhibition Centre the Birmingham area accounts for 42% of all UK conference and exhibition trade and the Birmingham sports and cultural venues attract large numbers of visitors.
Today Birmingham is a major international commercial center and an important transportation, retail, events and conference hub. The economy of Birmingham is the second largest in the UK and it is the 72nd largest in the world. It is also the fourth most visited city by tourists from abroad in the United Kingdom. The three universities and the two university colleges in Birmingham make it the largest center of higher education in the United Kingdom outside of London. Birmingham's major cultural institutions, such as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, have earned it an outstanding international reputation. Birmingham has had a significant influence on musical history over the last century. Bands from Birmingham have made a major contribution to the musical culture of the United Kingdom, with many contemporary bands citing Birmingham bands as being a major influence. In the 60s the blues and early progressive rock bands, such as The Moody Blues and Velvett Fogg came out of Birmingham. The city was also the birthplace of heavy metal music, with pioneering metal bands from the late 1960s and 1970s such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, as well as two of the members of Led Zeppelin, having come from Birmingham. The next decade saw the influential metal band Napalm Death arise from the city. In the 1970s, members of The Move and The Idle Race formed the Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard. The 1970s also saw the rise of reggae and ska in the city with such bands as Steel Pulse, UB40, Musical Youth, Beshara and The Beat, expounding racial unity with politically leftist lyrics and multiracial line-ups, mirroring social currents in Birmingham at that time. Seminal 1980s pop band Duran Duran are also from Birmingham along with the world famous punk rockers Charged GBH.
Birmingham was the victim of heavy bomb damage during the World War II Birmingham Blitz resulting in the city being extensively redeveloped during the 1950s and 1960s. Following World War II, the ethnic makeup of Birmingham changed dramatically with the waves of immigration arriving in the city. The recession of the early 1980s saw the economy of Birmingham collapse with high levels of unemployment and outbreaks of social unrest occuring in inner city districts. In recent years, Birmingham has been transformed due to the construction of new squares like Centenary Square and Millennium Place. Old streets, buildings and canals in Birmingham have been restored, pedestrian subways have been removed and the Bull Ring shopping centre was completely redeveloped. These were the first steps in the ambitious plans of Birmingham City Council for the redevelopment of Birmingham, which has become known as the Big City Plan. In spite of the decline of manufacturing in the city there are several significant industrial plants including Jaguar automobiles at Castle Bromwich Assembly Plant where they make the Jaguar XJ series. The climate of the Birmingham area is classified as being a temperate maritime climate, like much of the rest of the British Isles with average maximum temperatures in the summer being around 21°C or 70°F; and during the winter being around 6.5°C or 43.7°F. Extreme weather conditions are rare but the city has been known to experience tornados, with the most recent being during July 2005 in the southern part of the city where it damaged homes and businesses. Summer heatwaves like the one that descended on the city in July 2006 have become more common in recent years. The highest maximum temperature which was set during August of 1990 was 34.9°C or 94.8°F. Winters have seemed to become milder since the 1990s with snow becoming far less frequent, but this seems to have been reversed in the last couple of years as the winter of 2009–10 was the coldest one on record for almost 30 years. Due to its inland location and comparatively high elevation Birmingham recieves more snow than most cities in the UK.
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VisitBritain Shop is a one stop shop for all British attractions, events, shows, travel and transport - all the essentials for a fantastic vacation to Britain, allowing travellers to better plan their travel in advance. They offer products such as Tourist Passes and BritRail Train Tickets that are not available in the UK. VisitBritain Shop is the official shop for the British Tourist Authority, offering great British product knowledge along with 60 years of experience working with North American and European travelers. They are the official international provider of London transport (the Visitor Oyster Card and the London Visitor Travelcard) on behalf of Transport for London with extensive itineraries that will help you plan your British vacation.
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