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Norfolk is a low-lying county in East Anglia, England, United Kingdom. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and with Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast, including The Wash. The county capital is Norwich. Norfolk is the fifth largest ceremonial county in England, with an area of 5,371 km˛ (2,074 sq mi).
Of the 34 non-metropolitan English counties, Norfolk is the seventh most populous, with a population of 832,400 (mid 2006). However, as a largely rural county it has a low population density, 155 people per square kilometre. Norfolk has about a 30th the population density of Central London, the tenth lowest density county in the country, with 38% of the county’s population living in the three major built up areas of Norwich (194,200), Great Yarmouth (66,400) and King's Lynn (40,700). This is reflected in Norfolk's economy which is dominated by agriculture and tourism. A key destination The Broads lie mostly within the county. A recent bid to have them declared a National Park failed, because it would have meant conservation being more important than navigation. Historical sites, such as the centre of Norwich, also contribute to tourism.
In a contest held by Plantlife, Norfolk's county flower was voted to be the Common Poppy after complaints that the first choice Alexanders was not representative.
Norfolk was settled in pre-Roman times, with neolithic camps along the higher land in the west where flints could be quarried. A Brythonic tribe, the Iceni, inhabited the county from the first century BC, to the end of the first century (AD). The Iceni revolted against the Roman invasion in 47 AD, and again in 60 AD led by Boudica. The crushing of the second rebellion opened the county to the Romans. During the Roman era roads and ports were constructed throughout the county and farming took place.
Situated on the east coast, Norfolk was vulnerable to invasions from Scandinavia and northern Europe, and forts were built to defend against the Angles and Saxons. By the 5th century the Angles, for whom East Anglia and England itself are named, had established control of the region and later became the "north folk" and the "south folk", hence, "Norfolk" and "Suffolk". Norfolk, and several adjacent areas, became the kingdom of East Anglia, later merging with Mercia and then Wessex. The influence of the Early English settlers can be seen in the many "thorpes", "tons" and "hams" of placenames. In the 9th century the region again came under attack, this time from Vikings who killed the king, Edmund the Martyr. In the centuries before the Norman Conquest the wetlands of the east of the county began to be converted to farmland, and settlements grew in these areas. Migration into East Anglia must have been high, as by the time of the Conquest and Domesday Book survey, it was one of the most densely populated parts of the British Isles.
During the high and late Middle Ages the county developed arable agriculture and woolen industries. The economy was in decline by the time of the Black Death, which dramatically reduced the population in 1349, suffice to say that the current population has yet to equal the population from this time. By the 16th century Norwich had grown to become the second largest city in England, but in 1665 the Great Plague of London again killed around one third of the population. During the English Civil War Norfolk was largely Parliamentarian. The economy and agriculture of the region declined somewhat, and during the industrial revolution Norfolk developed little industry and was a late addition to the railway network.
In the 20th century the county developed a role in aviation. The first development in airfields came with the First World War; there was then a massive expansion during the Second World War with the growth of the Royal Air Force and the influx of the American USAAF 8th Air Force which operated from many Norfolk Airfields.