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Greater Manchester

Formed in 1974 from parts of Lancashire and Cheshire but, as the name obviously suggests, based around the city of Manchester.

Apart from Manchester the area covers the old Lancashire towns of Oldham, Bolton, Wigan, Rochdale, the city of Salford and the former Cheshire town of Stockport.

Greater Manchester covers 500 square miles and has a population of 2,580,000.

In recent years the city has become synonymous with the football clubs of Manchester City and Manchester United.

The origins of the area owe a lot to the opening of the Bridgewater canal in the 1800's which brought the regional industries of coal and in particular cotton a ready outlet to markets up and down the country and, with the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal to markets worldwide.

Famous sons and daughters from the region include the singer Gracie Fields (from Rochdale), Emmeline Pankhurst (the leader of the Suffragette movement in the early part of the 20th Century) and Anthony Burgess (less glamourously a member of a Soviet spy ring in the 1950's and 60's).

In common with it's traditions the area is highly industrialised although the times 'when cotton was King' are now long gone.