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Leicester is a city status in the United Kingdom and unitary authority area in the East Midlands area of England. It is also the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest, England. In 2006, the population of the Leicester unitary authority was estimated at 289,700, the largest in the East Midlands, whilst 441,213 people lived in the wider Leicester Urban Area. Eurostat's Larger Urban Zone listed the population of the area at 772,400 people as of 2004. Leicester is the 10th List of largest United Kingdom settlements by population using the 2001 census definitions and the urban area is the fifteenth largest List of conurbations in the United Kingdom in the UK, the second largest in the region behind the Nottingham Urban Area.
Ancient Roman Britain pavements and baths remain in Leicester from its early settlement as Ratae Corieltauvorum, a Roman military outpost in a region inhabited by the Celtic Corieltauvi tribe. Following the demise of Roman society the early medieval Ratae Corieltauvorum is shrouded in obscurity, but when the settlement was captured by the Viking it became one of five fortified towns important to the Danelaw. The name"Leicester" is thought to derive from the words castra of the "Ligore", meaning a camp on the River Legro, an early name for the River Soar. Leicester appears in the ''Domesday Book'' as "Ledecestre". Leicester continued to grow throughout the Early Modern Britain as a market town, although it was the Industrial Revolution that facilitated an unparalleled process of unplanned urbanisation in the area.
A newly constructed rail and canal network routed through the area stimulated industrial growth in the 19th century, and Leicester became a major economic centre with a variety of manufacturers engaged in engineering, shoemaking and hosiery production. The economic success of these industries, and businesses ancillary to them resulted in significant urban expansion into the surrounding countryside. The boundaries of Leicester were extended throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, becoming a county borough in 1889, and granted City status in the United Kingdom in 1919.
Today, Leicester is located on the Midland Main Line and close to the M1 motorway. The city has a large ethnic minority population, particularly of South Asian origin, a product of Immigration to the United Kingdom since 1922 since the World War II. To cater for the South Asian community, there are many Hindu, Sikh and Muslim places of worship and the Melton Road district serves as a focus, containing large numbers of Asian restaurants and other small businesses. Leicester is a centre for higher education, with both Leicester University and De Montfort University being based in the city.