Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Alabama and the county seat of Jefferson County. The city's population was 212,237 in the 2010 United States Census. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of about 1,128,047 according to the 2010 Census, which is approximately one quarter of Alabama's population.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, notably, former Elyton. It was named for Birmingham, England, one of the UK's major industrial cities.
The city is served by the Birmingham City Schools system. It is run by the Birmingham Board of Education with a current active enrollment of 30,500 in 62 schools: seven high schools, 13 middle schools, 33 elementary schools, and nine kindergarten-eighth-grade primary schools.
Birmingham Public Library administers 21 branches throughout the city and is part of a wider system including another 19 suburban branches in Jefferson County, serving the entire community to provide education and entertainment for all ages.
The greater-Birmingham metropolitan area is the home of numerous independent school systems, because there has been a great deal of fragmentation of educational systems in Alabama, and especially in Jefferson County. Some of these "school systems" only have three to five schools. The metropolitan area's three largest school systems are the Jefferson County School System, Birmingham City Schools, and the Shelby County School System. However, there are many smaller school systems.
The Birmingham area is reputed to be the home of some of Alabama's best high schools, colleges and universities. In 2005, the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School in Irondale, an eastern suburb of Birmingham, was rated as the No. 1 high school in America by Newsweek. The school remains among the nation's top 5 high schools. Mountain Brook High School placed 250th on the list. Other local schools that have been rated among America's best in various publications include Homewood High School, Vestavia Hills High School and the Alabama School of Fine Arts located downtown. The metro area also has three highly regarded preparatory schools: Saint Rose Academy located in Birmingham proper the Altamont School, also located in Birmingham proper, and Indian Springs School in north Shelby County near Pelham.
Noteworthy institutions of higher education in greater Birmingham include the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University (includes the Cumberland School of Law), Birmingham School of Law, Miles College, the independent Miles Law School, Jefferson State Community College, Birmingham-Southern College, University of Montevallo (in Shelby County), Lawson State Community College, and Virginia College in Birmingham, the largest career college based in Birmingham.