Being an agriculturally strong area East Anglia is not the most densely populated area of the United Kingdom. Also although the land is flat, it is naturally marsh so many areas are not suitable for large scale building projects. However, due to the areas economic success a number of cities have grown in the region. Currently Cambridge is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK both in terms of its economy and its population size and Peterborough has seen recent rapid growth as well.
The largest urban area in East Anglia is Norwich which acts as the county town of Norfolk. The City has a population of 213,000 people and is the 35th largest city in the UK. However prior to the industrial revolution Norwich was the second largest city in the country. The city first grew as a result of it being the home of Iceni tribe and when the Romans took over power they made it the Roman capital of East Anglia. When the Romans departed the country the Anglo-Saxons took over the settlement and from this point it really grew. Being situated on the River Wensum it was ideally situated as a trade route with Great Yarmouth and the River Yare.
The importance of the city was confirmed when it gained its own mint and Norwich Castle was built soon after the Norman Invasion. As the region’s agricultural success grew so too did Norwich’s importance. Norwich is now home to a wide variety of manufacturing industry and is home to a flourishing tourist industry. The county town of Suffolk is Ipswich with a population of 135,000 and is located on the estuary of the River Orwell. The town has been occupied since Saxon times and its port has been popular since it was first created. Ipswich has been occupied since Roman times providing important routes inland through the Rivers Orwell and Gipping. The modern town was really shaped around the port during the Anglo-Saxon period as trade increased between Eastern Britain and the European continent. Cloth was being mass produced in Suffolk and was proving popular with overseas traders.
All of Ipswich industries were based around the port area being able to utilize goods and materials that were being imported. As time has progressed a lot of the industries have been replaced by lighter and service industries in the area that has been gentrified. Ipswich also hold an important government role as the county town of Suffolk. Many of its residents are employed in local government in the county offices that are located in the town.
Cambridge is the county town of Cambridgeshire and has currently one of the fastest growing economies of any city in the country. This is as a result of the ties with the city’s university which is known around the world. Cambridge is situated on the River Cam and has a population of 123,000. The city grew in both Roman and Saxon times as a result of it being a route centre. However, in 1209 the University was founded and it has become world renowned for the quality of its education. Prior to 1209 the area had a reputation for education as a result of the monks at the nearby bishopric church of Ely.
In 1209 there was an incident at Oxford Universty that led to a number of scholars resigning and moving to Cambridge where they created their own University. In 2017 it was ranked as the second best university in the world. As the university grew so did other industries associated with the city’s location. The M11 and the creation of the railways only increased its popularity and the associated employment with its role as the county town kept it expanding.
The recent rise in high tech industries has only boosted Cambridge’s popularity further. The city is now widely known as “Silicon Fen” and the economic boom is being felt around other areas in East Anglia. There are many other urban centres in the region such as Peterborough and New Market and the flat plains have led to an almost even population distribution.