Leeds is a city in West Yorkshire, England, the principal settlement in the City of Leeds metropolitan district. In 2011 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 474,632, while in 2011 the City of Leeds had an estimated population of 757,700 making it the third largest city in the United Kingdom.
Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area, which at the 2011 census had a population of 1.8 million, and the Leeds-Bradford Metropolitan Area, of which Leeds is the integral part, had a population of around 2.3 million, making it the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the UK. In addition, the Leeds City Region, an economic area with Leeds at its core, had a population of 3 million.
Leeds is the UK's largest centre for business, legal, and financial services outside London, and its office market is considered the best in Europe for value. Leeds is considered a Gamma World City, alongside cities such as Phoenix, St. Petersburg and Valencia under the 2010 GaWC study.
Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the history of Leeds can be traced to the 5th century when the Kingdom of Elmet was covered by the forest of "Loidis", the origin of the name Leeds. The name has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the appellation 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. Then, during the Industrial Revolution, Leeds developed into a major industrial centre; 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.
Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focused on Leeds and there are a number of twinning arrangements with towns and cities in other countries. Its assigned role in the Leeds City Region partnership recognises the city's importance to regional economic development, and will now play a large part in the UK's planned new high-speed railway development.
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