The largest city of the British Midlands and the second largest city in the Kingdom (with approximately one million inhabitants) is known as the Heart of England, and owes its economic and industrial might to its advantageous position in an area of large iron ore and coal mines which were greatly expanded in the 18th century. Thus heavy industry was first produced and today in addition to locomotives, cars, tractors and weapons, jewellery, toys and chocolate are also produced. Birmingham is also the center for publications and has two coin mints, all in all one of the most important industrial cities in the world.
Because of its position Birmingham is also a congress and exhibition city, and offers its visitors the attraction of a fast monorail which is capable of travelling from the new airport to the exhibition area (NEC National Exhibition Centre) in only 90 seconds. A network of canals links Birmingham with the North Sea, the Irish Sea, and the city itself has more canals than Venice. Culture enthusiasts come to Birmingham to listen to the famous Symphony Orchestra or to watch Shakespeare plays in nearby Strat-ford-upon-Avon.