East Anglia was a small independent kingdom formed in the 6th century as part of the Anglo- Saxon settlements of Britain. The Wuffingas ruled the area in the 7th and 8th century, before the region fell to Mercia in the 9th century .From 869 until 918 it fell under control of the Danes, then Edward the Elder took control and the region became part of the Kingdom of England. During its period as an independent Anglo-Saxon kingdom it was one of the most powerful in Britain. The most influential kings were Wehha and Wuffa who were part of the Wuffinga dynasty, and the area grew in importance until being conquered by Mercia.
When East Anglia became part of England it was given earldom status with Thorkell the Tall being made the first earl of East Anglia in 1017 by Cnut the Great who was King of England. During these early times old English was spoken which was a dialect that descended from the first Germanic settlers into the area who had arrived in the 5th century. It has been claimed that this is the first place anywhere where English was spoken.
During these early periods the region was a large marshy expanse and complete drainage was not complete until the 17th century. This was achieved by using the same methods that had been practiced in Holland. The river network in the area was expanded and new canals were implemented causing greater run off and drier land. Prior to the industrialization of the North and the Midlands the most industrial activity in England was based in East Anglia. This was based on the wool industry, the textile industry and agricultural industries. As industrialization exploded in other regions of the country in the 18th and 19th century East Anglia still maintained its economic strength as a result of its rich agricultural output.
During the Second World War East Anglia became home to many British and American Air-force bases. It was an ideal location as geographically it was close to Europe. Also the flat topography made it easier for runways to be built quickly and cheaply. These huge engineering projects have left a number of airfields that have still survived today. In fact the RAF is still present today with bases at Honington, Lakenheath and Marham with American interests still at Lakenheath. One of the old bases, RAF Horsham St Faith, has been turned into Norwich International airport and this is the largest airport in East Anglia. The region nowadays is prospering as a result of its strong ties with the agricultural community and its close proximity to London. Many industries have based themselves in the area as a result of its good transport links to the capital and also due to the relatively cheap land. Many people who reside in the area also commute to London to work.
The new computer based industries have been attracted into the region as a result of the high standard of the education in the area. Cambridge University has a close relationship with the cluster of high tech industries that have gathered in the local area, and it is known as the “Silicon Fen”. Famed as having one of the best universities in the world this educational establishment has helped with research, as well as supplying many of the companies with highly qualified staff. The region is also benefiting in an upsurge in tourism and East Anglia is seen as one of the most desirable places to live.