A large and historic county in the North West of England, Lancashire was formed in the 12th century. Its heyday came years later in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, when it emerged as a major commercial and industrial region. Many towns-Rochdale, Oldham, Blackburn, and Burnley, to name a few-formed around cotton mills, at which the vast majority of the inhabitants of the town were employed from age 13 and up. By the 1830s, Lancashire was responsible for processing a whopping 85% of cotton manufactured worldwide. In this era, Blackpool developed as the tourist hotspot for industrial workers in the region, and still remains today a lively tourist city.
Over the last century, with the rapid decline of the cotton industry, the economic outlook of the county has at times looked shaky, with levels of unemployment often significantly higher than in the South of the England. In recent years high levels of immigration from southern Asia coupled with economic malaise has led to some racial tension in the region.
At the same time, though, there is great spirit and unity in many Lancashire towns, with a sense of tradition reigning over proceedings. The sport of cricket especially has been one dominated by Lancashire for a century, with Lancashire Cricket Club home in most recent times to England cricketers Andrew Flintoff, James Anderson, and Sajid Mahmood.