Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside , England , along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary .
Liverpool is governed by one of five councils within the metropolitan county of Merseyside, and is one of England's core cities and its fifth most populous — 447,500 in 2006, with 816,000 in the Liverpool Urban Area , which includes suburbs on the Liverpool side of the Mersey but not those on the Wirral Peninsula . The term Greater Merseyside is sometimes used to described a broader area, which also includes the borough of Halton .
Built across a ridge of hills rising up to a height of around 230 feet (70 metres) above sea-level at Everton Hill, the city's urban area runs directly into Bootle and Crosby in Sefton to the north, and Huyton and Prescot in Knowsley to the east. It faces Wallasey and Birkenhead across the River Mersey to the west.
Inhabitants of Liverpool are referred to as Liverpudlians and nicknamed " Scousers ", in reference to the local meal known as 'scouse', a form of stew. The word scouse has also become synonymous with the Liverpool accent and dialect. This year (2007), the city is celebrating its 800th anniversary, and in 2008 it will hold the European Capital of Culture title (together with Stavanger , Norway ). [
Liverpool skyline, as seen from across the River Mersey
King John's letters patent of 1207 announced the foundation of the borough of Liverpool and by the middle of the 16th century the population was still only around 500. In the 17th century there was slow progress in trade and population growth. Battles for the town were waged during the English Civil War , including an eighteen-day siege in 1644.
In 1699 Liverpool was made a parish by Act of Parliament , that same year its first slave ship, Liverpool Merchant, set sail for Africa. As trade from the West Indies surpassed that of Ireland and Europe, Liverpool began to grow. The first wet dock in Britain was built in Liverpool in 1715. Substantial profits from the slave trade helped the town to prosper and rapidly grow. By close of the century Liverpool controlled over 41% of European and 80% of Britain's slave commerce.
By the start of the nineteenth century, 40% of the world's trade was passing through Liverpool and the construction of major buildings reflected this wealth. In 1830, Liverpool (along with Manchester ) became the first city to have an intercity rail link, through the Liverpool and Manchester Railway . The population continued to rise rapidly, especially during the 1840s when the Irish began arriving by the thousands due to the Great Famine , leading to sectarian tension and violence [ citation needed ] . By 1851, approximately 25% of the city was Irish-born. During the first part of the 20th century, Liverpool was pulling in emigrants from across Europe. During World War II there were 80 air-raids on Merseyside , killing 2500 people and causing damage to almost half the homes in the metropolitan area. Since 1952 Liverpool has been twinned with Cologne , Germany , a city that shared the horrifying experience of excessive aerial bombing. Significant rebuilding followed the war, including massive housing estates and the Seaforth Dock , the largest dock project in Britain.
The population of Liverpool peaked in the 1931 census, which reported 855,688 inhabitants. This had declined to 610,114 by 1961, and further to 439,476 in the 2001 census. 
In the 1960s Liverpool became a centre of youth culture . The " Merseybeat " sound which became synonymous with The Beatles and fellow Liverpudlian pop bands of the era catapulted the city to the front of the popular music scene.
From the mid-1970s onwards Liverpool's docks and traditional manufacturing industries went into sharp decline. The advent of containerization meant that Liverpool's docks became largely obsolete. In the early 1980s unemployment rates in Liverpool were amongst the highest in the UK. In recent years, Liverpool's economy has recovered and has experienced growth rates higher than the national average since the mid-nineties.
In 1974, Liverpool became a metropolitan district within the newly created metropolitan county of Merseyside , it had previously been in Lancashire . At the end of the century Liverpool was concentrating on regeneration which still continues today, with the city winning the accolade of European Capital of Culture for 2008. Capitalising on the popularity of the 1960s pop group The Beatles and other groups of the Merseybeat era, tourism has also become a significant factor in Liverpool's economy.
In 2004, property developer Grosvenor started the Paradise Project , a £920 m development centered on Paradise Street, which will involve the most significant changes to Liverpool's city centre since the post-war reconstruction. Now known as Liverpool 1 parts are nearing completion.
Liverpool is internationally known as a cultural centre, with a particularly rich history in popular music (most notably The Beatles ), performing and visual arts. In 2003, Liverpool was named European Capital of Culture for 2008 . A series of cultural events during 2004-9 is planned, peaking in 2008.
During the late 1960s, the city also became well known for the Liverpool poets , of whom Roger McGough and the late Adrian Henri are among the best known. The anthology The Mersey Sound , by Henri, McGough and Brian Patten , has sold over 500,000 copies since first being published in 1967.
From summer 2007 on, the city will present an annual theatrical highlight inside Liverpool Cathedral and in the adjacent St James' Cemetery: The Liverpool Shakespeare Festival will be introduced with a captivating production of Macbeth . In summer 2008, it will present A Midsummer Night's Dream to celebrate the spirit of Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture .
Liverpool has a strong history of performing arts which is reflected in the number of theatres in the city, including the Empire , Everyman , Neptune , Royal Court and Unity Theatres, and the Liverpool Playhouse . The Everyman and Playhouse run their own theatre company  as does the Unity Theatre . 
A flourishing orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra , performs in its own home, the Philharmonic Hall . The city is also features a Liverpool Youth Orchestra
Liverpool has long had a reputation in the visual arts. Painter George Stubbs was born in the city in 1724. Pre-Raphaelites are among the important paintings in the Walker Art Gallery . Sudley House contains another major collection of pre 20th century art.  Liverpool has more galleries and national museums than any city apart from London. The Tate Liverpool gallery houses the modern art collection of the Tate in the north of England. The FACT centre hosts touring multimedia exhibitions.
The Liverpool Biennial  is a festival of arts held (as the name implies) every two years. The festival generally runs from mid September to late November and comprises three main sections; the International, The Independents and New Contemporaries although fringe events are timed to coincide. It was during this event in 2004 that Yoko Ono 's work "My mother is beautiful" caused widespread public protest by exhibiting photographs of a naked woman's pubic area on the main shopping street. Despite protests the work remained in place.
The 2006 Biennial ran until mid November, exhibitions could be found dotted around Liverpool City centre and included such things as the lions in front of St Georges Hall being caged, and St Lukes Church being filled with upturned boats
Liverpool's skyline, as seen from the River Mersey. The Liver Building on the left
The Parish Church of St. Nicholas and the Atlantic Tower hotel near Pier Head. The Atlantic Tower was designed to resemble the prow of a ship to reflect Liverpool's maritime history
Liverpool is associated with a variety of sports, most notably football , but also a number of others.
Liverpool has two Premier League football clubs: Liverpool F.C. at Anfield and Everton F.C. at Goodison Park . Both teams have enjoyed a considerable amount of success, with Liverpool the most successful team in English football, having won a record 18 League titles, five European Cups , and seven FA Cups ; whilst Everton, who have been present in the top professional league longer than any other club (and with the exception of Arsenal have the longest unbroken spell in the top flight of English football) have won nine league titles, the UEFA Cup Winners ' Cup once and the FA Cup five times. There has never been a season in which at least one of the two teams was not in England's top division. During the 1980s both clubs enjoyed huge success dominating both the league and cup competitions in England and Europe. Highlights of this period were the FA Cup finals of 1986 and 1989 involving both clubs. The relation between the fans of the two teams is generally very good in comparison to other teams located in big cities [ citation needed ] . Amateur football is played by teams in the Liverpool County Premier League .
County cricket is occasionally played in Liverpool, with Lancashire County Cricket Club typically playing one match every year at Liverpool Cricket Club , Aigburth .
Aintree Racecourse to the north of Liverpool in the adjacent borough of Sefton is home to the famous steeplechase , the Grand National , One of the most famous events in the international horse racing calendar, it is held in early April of each year. In addition to horse-racing, Aintree has also hosted motor racing , including the British Grand Prix in the 1950s and 1960s.
Liverpool Harriers, who meet at Wavertree Athletics Centre, are one of five athletic clubs. Liverpool has a long history of boxing that has produced John Conteh , Alan Rudkin and Paul Hodkinson and hosts high level amateur boxing events. Park Road Gymnastics Centre provides training to a high level. The City of Liverpool Swimming Club has been National Speedo League Champions 8 out of the last 11 years. Liverpool Tennis Development Programme based at Wavertree Tennis Centre is one of the largest in the UK.  Liverpool is also home to the Red Triangle Karate Club , which provided many of the 1990 squad that won the World Shotokan Championships in Sunderland. Luminaries include Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda, Sensei Frank Brennan, Sensei Omry Weiss, Sensei Dekel Kerer, Sensei Andy Sherry and Sensei Terry O'Neill , who is also famous for various acting roles. Rugby league is played at amateur and student level within the city; the last professional team bearing the city's name was Liverpool City , which folded in the 1960s. Liverpool St Helens F.C. is one of the oldest rugby union teams in the UK.
Liverpool is one of three cities which still host the traditional sport of British Baseball and it hosts the annual England-Wales international match every two years, alternating with Cardiff and Newport . Liverpool Trojans are the oldest existing baseball club in the UK.
The Royal Liverpool Golf Club , situated in the nearby town of Hoylake on the Wirral Peninsula, has hosted The Open Championship on a number of occasions, most recently in 2006. It has also hosted the Walker Cup .