The steel city of Sheffield is a metropolitan borough in South Yorkshire, England and so called because of its origins in a field on the River Sheaf that wends its way through the city. Sheffield nestles in some of the best rambling country available, surrounded by a ring of hills and bordered at the western edge by the Peak District.
Historically, Sheffield was a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, however, the city has since grown from its largely industrial roots to encompass a wide economic base.
The population of the City of Sheffield was approximately 525,800 in 2006 and is one of the eight largest English cities outside London which form the English Core Cities Group. The wider Sheffield Urban Area which extends beyond the city proper has a population of 640,720.
The original town sprouted up around a Norman castle built to keep the Saxons in check during the 11th century, and by the 14th century it was a thriving centre for metalworking, famed for its knives.
Sheffield was clearly ready for industrialisation when it came, the steel-makers employing new smelting techniques to become world leaders in the city's primary trade, and so it flourished. The extent to which Sheffield affected the world steel industry cannot be underestimated - both silver plating and stainless steel were pioneered and developed in the city. These days Sheffield is host to many hi-tech companies and even Boeing, the aircraft giant, has works at the city's new manufacturing park on the outskirts.
The city has no less than two football league teams and, of course, the customary 'friendly' rivalry exists between fans of Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday - although United's followers have had more to cheer lately, such as a recent FA Cup semi-final appearance.
Aside from football, the city has achieved sporting fame for it's annual hosting of the Snooker World Championships at the Crucible Theatre, and for the Don Valley athletics stadium which has seen performances from many of Britain's star athletes past and present - from Daley Thompson to Dame Kelly Holmes.
Sheffield has a number of famous sons and daughters from sport, entertainment and politics: ex Python globe-trotter Michael Palin, disgraced ex Home Secretary David Blunkett, cricketer and England captain Michael Vaughan, Pulp front-man Jarvis Cocker, 80's electro-pop sensations The Human League and even "Touching the Void" author and ill-fated climber Joe Simpson.