Guide to the North of England

The North of England includes several areas of natural beauty such as the Pennines, the Yorkshire Moors, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. The North is home to a diverse landscape of forests and moorland, lakes and seaside resorts, and historically significant sites and cities. It is also home to some of the most important economic and cultural centres in England, including Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, York and Durham.

Defining the North

Generally speaking, the North of England extends from the Scottish border in the north and the River Trent to the south. The area is not recognised an official region and is more commonly used to refer to a cultural or geographic region of England. The North typically includes Cheshire, Cumbria, County Durham, East Riding of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, and West Yorkshire. Greater Manchester and portions of Lincolnshire also fall within the unofficial borders of the North of England.

Northern England is often divided into three regions - North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. The North East includes Newcastle upon Tyne, Durham, Sunderland, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, while the North West includes Manchester, Manchester, Chester, Blackpool and Lancaster. Yorkshire and the Humber is home to Leeds, Sheffield, York, Kingston upon Hull, Bradford and Doncaster. In addition to being common divisions for government purposes and tourism, these regions also constitute the North's three constituencies of the European Parliament.

History of the North

Much of the North was part of Brigantia, the largest Celtic-speaking Brythonic kingdom in what is today Great Britain. The area was settled by Romans during their occupation of Britain. New Brythonic kingdoms arose during and after the Roman period, and Germanic settlers established Angle and Saxon kingdoms that emerged as a unified Kingdom of Northumbria during the seventh century. Parts of the North, including York, also came under Danish control during the tenth and eleventh centuries. Northumbria joined England during the tenth century before the Norman Conquest in 1066.

From 1484, the North was controlled by the Council of the North. With major decisions almost always made in London, the Council was abolished in 1641. The area was a significant religious and political centre, particularly during the battles with Scotland until the unification of Britain in the eighteenth century. During the Industrial Revolution, the North was home to mining and mill towns, as well as an important centre for textile production and ship-building. While the South and East of England thrived with industrialisation, the North remained relatively poor. With the decline of industry in the region during the twentieth century, many communities have been experiencing urban renewal and regeneration in recent decades.

Demographics of the North

The North of England covers an area of 37,331 square kilometres or 14,414 square miles. According to the 2011 Census, approximately 15 million people live in the region. The largest concentration of people lives in the North West, which is home to 7.1 million people. Yorkshire and the Humber has an estimated population of 5.3 million, while the North East is home to 2.6 million. All three regions experienced population growth between the 2001 and 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The largest population centre in the North is Greater Manchester with 2.6 million people.

Once a major economic hub during the industrialisation of the UK, the North of England is now home to many economically deprived areas. Unemployment remains relatively high in the North when compared to other areas of England and the United Kingdom. In the North East, unemployment was 10.1 percent in May 2014, while 7.7 percent of the working population of the North West and 8.3 percent in Yorkshire and the Humber were unemployed according to the ONS. This compares to a national unemployment average for England of 6.8 percent.

Communities in the North

While largely rural in character, the North is also home to some of England's most important cities. Many cities in the North have strong industrial roots, including Manchester and Leeds. Sheffield also has a strong industrial heritage and is at the heart of one of the largest urban centres in England. Situated in South Yorkshire, Sheffield is also renowned for its ample green spaces. Cities in the North East such as Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle upon Tyne grew rapidly during the Industrial Revolution. Once supported by coal and steel industries, they retain a distinct industrial.

Manchester plays an important cultural and economic role in the North. A major commercial centre, the city is home to world famous football clubs Manchester United and Manchester City. It also has a rich musical tradition, being home to New Order, The Smiths, Oasis, Badly Drawn Boy and other successful acts. The city lies between two other major cities in the North, Liverpool and Leeds. Located in Merseyside, Liverpool is the home of The Beatles as well as Liverpool and Everton football clubs. The city is also home to Europe's oldest Chinatown and a varied collection of museums and music venues. Leeds in West Yorkshire is an important university, entertainment and retail hub. It is also a gateway to the Yorkshire Dales and the Yorkshire Moors.

The North is home to some of England's most beautiful towns, including the historic spa town of Harrogate on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. The Dales is dotted with picturesque cities and historical sites, including Bolton Abbey and Ripon. York, an ancient cathedral city has a stunning arrange of well-preserved historic buildings. One of England's top tourist destinations, the small city was known as Eboracum during the Roman period. When it was captured by the Vikings in 866, the city was renamed Jorvik. Other historically significant communities in the North include the cathedral city of Durham, which boasts a beautiful Norman Castle that dates from 1073 and served as a backdrop for the Harry Potter film series. On the west coast lie the seaside towns of Scarborough and Whitby, the home to Captain James Cook and the famed ruins of an abbey that inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula.