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Sunderland is a city in Tyne and Wear, England. It was formerly a county borough but now forms part of the City of Sunderland. It sits at the mouth of the Wearside conurbation.
The name "Sunderland" is reputed to come from Soender-land (soender/sunder being the Anglo-Saxon infinitive, meaning "to part"), likely to be reference to the valley carved by the River Wear that runs through the heart of the city. Another meaning is that of the name referring to 'land set aside', derived from the rich Christian heritage of the city.
There were three original settlements on the site of modern-day Sunderland. On the north side of the river, Monkwearmouth was settled in 674 when Benedict Biscop founded the Wearmouth-Jarrow monastery. Opposite the monastery on the south bank, Bishopwearmouth was founded in 930. A small fishing village called Sunderland, located toward the mouth of the river (modern day East End) was granted a charter in 1179. Over the centuries, Sunderland grew as a port, trading coal and salt. Ships began to be built on the river in the 14th century. By the 19th century, the port of Sunderland had grown to absorb Bishopwearmouth and Monkwearmouth. Sunderland became a city in 1992.
Much of the city is located on a low range of hills running parallel to the coast. On average, it is around 80 metres above sea level. Sunderland is divided by the River Wear which passes through the middle of the city in a deeply incised valley, part of which is known as the Hylton gorge. The only two road bridges connecting the north and south halves of the City are the Queen Alexandra Bridge at Pallion and the Wearmouth Bridge just to the north of the City centre. A third bridge carries the A19 trunk road over the Wear to the West of the City (see map below).
Most of the suburbs of Sunderland are situated towards the west of the city centre with 70% of its population living on the south side of the river and 30% on the north side. The city extends to the seafront at Hendon and Ryhope (on the south) and Seaburn (on the north).
The area is part of the Anglican Diocese of Durham. It has been in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle since the Catholic hierarchy was restored in 1850.
As with most UK East-coast towns, Sunderland is prone to sea fog known locally as Fret. This is most common in the summer months (April - September). These frets can be very dense, are often very localised, and can appear and disappear in a matter of minutes.
Sunderland is the 26th largest city in England. At 3,874 hectares, Sunderland is the 45th largest urban area in England by measure of area, with a population density of 45.88 people per hectare.
According to statistics based on the 2001 census, 60% of homes in the Sunderland metropolitan area are owner occupied, with an average household size of 2.4 people. 3% of the homes have no permanent residents.
66% (men) and 54.7% (women) of the population within working age are economically active. 6.7% of men and 3% of women are unemployed. 12.2% of men and 8.6% women are permanently sick or disabled.
Immigration into Sunderland is 2.4%, emigration is 2.2%
98.1% of the population are white, with 1% Asian and 0.4% mixed-race.
In 2001, the most ethnically diverse ward of the city was the (now defunct) Thornholme area - just to the south of the city centre, an area that included the suburbs of Ashbrooke and Eden Vale. Here, 89.4% are white, 7.8% are Asian and 1.3% are mixed-race.
The least ethnically diverse wards are in the north of the city. The area of Castletown is made up of 99.3% white, 0.4% Asian and 0.2% mixed-race.
According to census statistics, 81.5% of Sunderland residents class themselves as Christian, 9.6% are irreligious, 0.7% are Muslim and 7.6% did not wish to give their religion.
114 people of Jewish faith were recorded as living in Sunderland, a vanishingly small percentage. There was no Jewish community before 1750, though subsequently a number of Jewish merchants from across the UK and Europe settled in Sunderland, A Rabbi from Holland was established in the city in 1790. The once thriving Jewish community has been in slow decline since the mid 20th century. Many Sunderland Jews left for stronger Jewish communities in Britain or to Israel. The Jewish primary school, the Menorah School, closed in July 1983. The synagogue on Ryhope Road (opened in 1928) closed at the end of March 2006.