Liverpool its surrounding areas combine to form the fifth largest metropolitan area in the UK, with over 2.24 million people in 2011. The local authority is Liverpool City Council, the most populous local government district within the metropolitan county of Merseyside and the largest within the Liverpool City Region.
Liverpool historically lay within the ancient hundred of West Derby in the south west of the county of Lancashire. It became a borough in 1207 and a city in 1880. In 1889, it became a county borough independent of Lancashire.
Liverpool sits on the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary and its growth as a major port was paralleled by the expansion of the city throughout the Industrial Revolution. Along with general cargo, freight, raw materials such as coal and cotton, the city was also involved in the Atlantic slave trade. Liverpool was home to both the Cunard and White Star Line, and was the port of registry of the ocean liner RMS Titanic, the RMS Lusitania, Queen Mary and Olympic.
The city celebrated its 800th anniversary in 2007, and was European Capital of Culture together with Stavanger, Norway, in 2008. Several areas of the city centre were granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2004. The Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City includes the Pier Head, Albert Dock, and William Brown Street.
The popularity of The Beatles and other groups from the Merseybeat era contributes to Liverpool's status as a tourist destination. Liverpool is also the home of two Premier League football clubs, Liverpool and Everton, matches between the two being known as the Merseyside derby. The city's namesake club is the sole British club to win five European Cups. The world-famous Grand National horse race takes place annually at Aintree Racecourse on the outskirts of the city.
Liverpool's status as a port city has contributed to its diverse population, which, historically, was drawn from a wide range of peoples, cultures, and religions, particularly from Ireland and Wales. The city is also home to the oldest Black African community in the country and the oldest Chinese community in Europe. Natives of Liverpool are referred to as Liverpudlians, and colloquially as "Scousers", a reference to "scouse", a form of stew. The word "Scouse" has also become synonymous with the Liverpool accent and dialect.
Pool is a common place name element in England from the Brythonic word for a pond, inlet, or pit, cognate with the modern Welsh: pwll. The derivation of the first element remains uncertain, with the Welsh word Llif (an old name for the Atlantic Ocean also meaning flood, flow or current) as the most plausible relative. This etymology is supported by its similarity to that of the archaic Welsh name for Liverpool Llynlleifiad (the lake/pool that floods/overflows).
Other origins of the name have been suggested, including "elverpool", a reference to the large number of eels in the Mersey. The name appeared in 1190 as "Liuerpul", and it may be that the place appearing as Leyrpole, in a legal record of 1418, refers to Liverpool.
Liverpool has several tiers of government; the Mayor and Local Council, who are also stakeholders in the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the National Government and the European Parliament.
Liverpool is officially governed by a Unitary Authority, as when Merseyside County Council was disbanded civic functions were returned to a district borough level. However several services such as the Police and Fire and Rescue Service, continue to be run at a county-wide level.
Liverpool has been described as having "the most splendid setting of any English city." At 53°24′0″N 2°59′0″W (53.4, −2.98), 176 miles (283 km) northwest of London, located on the Liverpool Bay of the Irish Sea the city of Liverpool is built across a ridge of sandstone hills rising up to a height of around 230 feet (70 m) above sea-level at Everton Hill, which represents the southern boundary of the West Lancashire Coastal Plain.
The Mersey Estuary separates Liverpool from the Wirral Peninsula. The boundaries of Liverpool are adjacent to Bootle, Crosby and Maghull in south Sefton to the north, and Kirkby, Huyton, Prescot and Halewood in Knowsley to the east.
As with other large cities, Liverpool is an important cultural centre within the United Kingdom, incorporating music, performing arts, museums and art galleries, literature and nightlife amongst others. In 2008, the cultural heritage of the city was celebrated with the city holding the title of European Capital of Culture, during which time a wide range of cultural celebrations took place in the city, including Go Superlambananas! and La Princesse.