Leicester is the largest city in the East Midlands region of England, the capital of the traditional county of Leicestershire, with a population of some 330,000 in the city area and nearly 500,000 in the metropolitan area.
Leicester gradually built up a small scale industrial prosperity based around framework knitting. This used semi-automated, leased machines, operated in people's own homes, to make stockings. Automation and factory building in the 19th century enabled Leicester to grow in population, land area and prosperity, with knitwear and machine manufacturing providing the bedrock of its economy.
Leicester is one of the oldest English towns, having been founded by the Romans as Ratae Corieltauvorum (latterly Livelli-Castrorum ) in 50 CE. It is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United Kingdom. It is also Britain's first environment city. Leicester continued to grow rapidly throughout the 20th century.