Peterborough ( /ˈpiːtərbrə/ or i/ˈpiːtərbərə/) is a Cathedral City and Unitary Authority Area in the East of England, with an estimated population of 183,600 in June 2007. For ceremonial purposes it belongs to the County of Cambridgeshire. Situated 75 miles (121 km) north of London, the city stands on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea approximately 30 miles (48 km) to the north-east. The railway station is an important stop on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh.
The local topography is flat and low-lying, and in some places lies below sea level. The area known as the Fens is to the east of Peterborough. The City of Peterborough includes the outlying military installation of RAF Wittering, and as a unitary authority it borders Northamptonshire and Rutland to the west, Lincolnshire to the north, and Cambridgeshire to the south and east.
Human settlement in the area dates back to before the Bronze Age, as can be seen at the Flag Fen archaeological site to the east of the current city centre. This site also shows evidence of Roman occupation. The Anglo-Saxon period saw the establishment of a monastery, then known as Medeshamstede, which later became Peterborough Cathedral. The population grew rapidly following the arrival of the railways in the 19th century, and Peterborough became an industrial centre, particularly noted for its brick manufacture.
Following the Second World War, growth was limited until designation as a New Town in the 1960s. The population is once again undergoing rapid expansion and a £1 billion regeneration of the city centre and immediately surrounding area is under way. In common with much of the United Kingdom, industrial employment has fallen, with new jobs tending to be in financial services and distribution.