Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland with a population of about 980,000 in the city itself, or over 1.8 million if the surrounding towns of the Clydeside conurbation are taken into account. Located at the west end of Scotland's Central Belt on the banks of the River Clyde, Glasgow's historical importance as Scotland's main industrial centre has challenged by decades of change and various regeneration efforts.
In recent years, however, Glasgow has been awarded the European titles of City of Culture (1990), City of Architecture and Design (1999) and Capital of Sport (2003). In 2008, Glasgow became the 2nd Scottish city to join the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative when it was named as a UNESCO City of Music (joining Bologna and Seville). In preparing its bid, Glasgow counted an average of 130 music events a week ranging from pop and rock to Celtic music and opera. The city has transformed itself from being the once mighty powerhouse of industrial Britain to a centre for commerce, tourism, and culture. Glasgow will be the host city for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Glasgow has become one of the most visited cities in the British Isles, and visitors will find a revitalised city centre, the best shopping outside London without a doubt, excellent parks and museums (most of which are free), and easy access to the Highlands and Islands.