Manchester is a city in the north west of England. In addition to Manchester itself, the Greater Manchester conurbation includes the towns of Bolton, Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, and Bury, and with a population of 2.2 million is England's third largest urban area. The city is situated on the rivers Irwell and Mersey at the foot of the Pennine hills on the lowland plains of Chesire and Lancashire.
The area was largely rural until the second half of the 18th century. As a major centre of the industrial revolution, Manchester experienced a factory-building boom at the turn of the 19th century, with textiles the primary industry, and following rapid urbanisation was granted city status in 1853. The city was at the cutting edge of the canal and railway booms, and in 1894 the Manchester Ship Canal was built, creating the Port of Manchester. Today, after periods of decline and regeneration, the post-industrial city is known for its role in the media sector, scientific research, music, and sport.