Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the UK's second largest and most ethnically diverse city and continues to be considered the country's "second city". The City of Birmingham has a population of 992,100 (2003 estimate); the Birmingham metropolitan area (the West Midlands county) has a population of 2,575,768. More than five million people live in the surrounding region.
The city is commonly known by its nickname Brum (from the local name Brummagem), and its people as Brummies. Birmingham is home to the distinctive Brummie accent and dialect.
Birmingham is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK, with large populations from the Caribbean and Indian subcontinent: according to the 2001 census, 25.6% of the population of Birmingham is non-white. The city hosts the largest number (140033) of Muslims in Britain, with regard to the percentage (14,3) it ranks sixth among the country's local authorities. Birmingham also has a large Irish community, and the city hosts the third largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world, after Dublin and New York. Birmingham's balti restaurants produce some of the finest 'Indian' cuisine in the UK.
About 22 million people visit Birmingham every year and the city was voted second best place to shop in England 2004 after the West End of London. Its top attractions include Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Millennium Point, Bull Ring, Selfridges Building, Cadbury World, Tolkien Trail, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and the National Sea Life Centre.
Birmingham has 35 miles (60 km) of canals within the city boundaries, of which most are navigable; the canals were once the lifeblood of the city's industries during the Industrial Revolution but are now used mainly for pleasure. It is often quoted that Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice. This is in fact true (Venice has 26 miles) although Birmingham is much larger than Venice.
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