Leeds ( listen) is a city in West Yorkshire, England. Historically in Yorkshire's West Riding, Leeds can be traced to the 5th century name for a wooded area of the Kingdom of Elmet. The name has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the name of a small manorial borough in the 13th century, through several incarnations, to being the name attached to the present metropolitan borough. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a major centre for the production and trading of wool.
During the Industrial Revolution, Leeds developed into a major mill town; wool was the dominant industry, but flax, engineering, iron foundries, printing, and other industries were important. From being a compact market town in the valley of the River Aire, in the 16th century, Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century. Leeds has a population of around 781,700 (2016), making it the third-most populous British city after London and Birmingham. The city lies within the United Kingdom's fourth-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.3 million.
The economy of Leeds is the most diverse of all the UK's main employment centres, and has seen the fastest rate of private-sector jobs growth of any UK city and has the highest ratio of private to public sector jobs of all the UK's Core Cities, with 77% of its workforce working in the private sector. Leeds has the third-largest jobs total by local authority area, with 480,000 in employment and self-employment at the beginning of 2015. Leeds is home to over 109,000 companies generating 5% of England's total economic output of £60.5 billion, and is also ranked as a gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Leeds is considered the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Leeds is served by four universities, and has the fourth largest student population in the country and the country's fourth largest urban economy.
After London, Leeds is the largest legal and financial centre in the UK, with the financial and insurance services industry worth £13 billion to the Leeds economy. with more than 30 national and international banks located in the city including the only subsidiary office of the Bank of England in the UK . Leeds is also the UK's third largest manufacturing centre with around 1,800 firms and 39,000 employees, Leeds manufacturing firms account for 8.8% of total employment in the city and is worth over £7 billion to the local economy. The largest sub-sectors are engineering, printing and publishing, food and drink, chemicals and medical technology. The city is the home of several firsts, including the oldest surviving film in existence, Roundhay Garden Scene (1888), and the 1767 invention of soda water, the defining component of most soft drinks.
Outside London, Leeds has the third busiest railway station and tenth-busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers in England. Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focused on Leeds. Its assigned role in the Leeds City Region partnership recognises the city's importance to regional economic development, and the second phase of High Speed 2 plans to connect Leeds to London via East Midlands Hub and Sheffield Meadowhall.
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