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East Anglia is often used as a shorthand for the Kingdom of the East Anglesmarker.
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern Englandmarker, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Anglesmarker. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angelnmarker, in northern Germanymarker. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of the East Anglian princess Etheldreda, the Isle of Elymarker also became part of the kingdom. The current boundary is subject to differing interpretations but is generally held to include the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk with Cambridgeshire and sometimes also Essex. For government administrative purposes East Anglia now forms part of the East of England and East Anglia is defined as Level 2 Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics within the East of England, comprising the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire including Peterborough..


Great Britain around the year 800
The Kingdom of the East Anglesmarker, formed about the year 520 by the merging of the North and the South Folk (Angles who had settled in the former lands of the Iceni during the previous century) was one of the seven Anglo-Saxon heptarchy kingdoms (as defined in the 12th century writings of Henry of Huntingdon). For a brief period following a victory over the rival kingdom of Northumbriamarker around the year 616, East Anglia was the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England, and its king Raedwald was Bretwalda (overlord of the Anglo-Saxons kingdoms). But this did not last: over the next forty years, East Anglia was defeated by the Merciansmarker twice, and it continued to weaken relative to the other kingdoms until in 794, Offa of Mercia had its king Æthelberht killed and took control of the kingdom himself.

The independence of the East Anglians was restored by a successful rebellion against Mercia (825–827), in course of which two Mercian kings were killed attempting to crush it. On 20 November, 869 the Danesmarker killed King Edmund and took the kingdom, which they named East Anglia (see Ivar the Boneless). The Anglo-Saxons retook the area in 920, only to lose it again in 1015–1017, when it was conquered by Canute the Great and given as a fiefdom to Thorkell the Tall, who was made Jarl of East Anglia in 1017.

Much of East Anglia (including parts of Lincolnshiremarker) consisted of marshland and bogs until the 17th century, despite the construction of early sea barriers by the Roman Empire. During the 17th century the alluvial land was converted into arable land by means of systematic drainage using a collection of drains and river diversions. In the 1630s thousands of Puritan families from East Anglia settled in the American region of New Englandmarker bringing with them much East Anglian culture to the new region.. East Anglia was a rich area of the country up until the effects of the Industrial Revolution moved manufacturing to the Midlandsmarker and the North - earnings being based on wool and textiles.

During the Second World War, the RAF and the United States Air Force constructed many air bases in East Anglia for the heavy bomber fleets of the Combined Bomber Offensive against Nazi-occupied Europe. East Anglia was chosen because it had considerable open space and level terrain and it was relatively close to the continent, thus shortening flights and allowing for greater bomb loads. Remnants of some of these bases are still visible.Pillboxes which were erected in 1940 to help defend the nation against invasion can also be found throughout the region at strategic points.


Cambridgeshire encompasses the western, fenland landscape of East Anglia. Despite water playing a significant role in the Fen and Broads landscapes, some parts of the region are classified as semi-arid due to their exceptionally low rainfall. During the summer months, tinder-dry conditions are frequently experienced, resulting in many field and heath fires. Maximum temperature ranges from 5–10 degrees celsius in the winter to 20–25 degrees celsius in the summer, although temperatures have been known to reach 35 degrees celsius in recent years. Sunshine totals tend to be higher towards the coastal areas.

Farming and horticulture have proven very successful in this fertile country. The landscape has been heavily influenced by Dutchmarker technology, from the influx of clay pantiles to the draining of the fens. It has a wide range of small-scale holiday destinations ranging from traditional coastal resorts (Great Yarmouthmarker, Lowestoftmarker), through historic towns such as Bury St. Edmundsmarker, Cambridgemarker, Elymarker and King's Lynnmarker to the modern holiday villas of Center Parcs set in Thetfordmarker Forest. The Royal Air Force constructed many airfields here during the Second World War and a few of these remain in use. One, near Norwich, has become Norwich International Airportmarker, a civilian airfield to serve the city.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads form a network of waterways between Norwich and the coast and are popular for recreational boating. A recent bid to have them declared a national park failed, as it would have meant conservation becoming more important than navigation rights. The rivers Nene and Great Ousemarker also cross the region.

The University of East Angliamarker is situated in Norwich. However, the East of England Regional Assembly is seated in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. The company names Anglia Television and Anglian Water derive from the region, which both serve.

Much of the area is characterised by its flatness, partly consisting of fenland and reclaimed marshland, though much of Suffolk and Norfolk is gently rolling hills. The flatness of the area is noted in Noel Coward's Private Lives - "Very flat, Norfolk" - and the history of its waterways and drainage forms the backdrop to Graham Swift's Waterland. The principal East Anglian cities include Norwichmarker (the nominal capital), Peterboroughmarker and Cambridgemarker. Ipswichmarker, Colchestermarker and Huntingdonmarker are technically towns, although Elymarker is also a city.

Flag and coat of arms

Unofficial flag of East Anglia
Possibly the best candidate for the arms of East Anglia are those of the Wuffingas dynasty: three crowns in a blue shield, the colour of the Swedish flag, superimposed on a St. George's cross. In fact, that device was created in homage to an old legend of the three crowns of East Anglia, and the blue colour represents the Anglo-Scandinavian heritage of much of East Anglia.

The East Anglian flag as it is known today was invented by George Henry Langham and adopted by the London Society of East Anglians. It was first mentioned in print in 1900 and was flown locally in various places in Norfolk, but was not known widely even at the time it was invented. The crowns also appear in the arms of the borough of Bury St. Edmundsmarker and the University of East Angliamarker.


  1. Hierarchical list of the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics and the statistical regions of Europe The European Commission, Statistical Office of the European Communities (retrieved 06 January 2008)
  2. David Hackett Fisher, Albion's Seed (1991)
  4. Brown, Chris State of the Environment Report 1998 Chapter 11: Physical Background (pp.305-306) Cambridgeshire County Council (retrieved 19 July 2007)

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