The name "Sunderland" is reputed to come from Soender-land 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.

Historically a part of County Durham, 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. In 2008 it was revealed that Sunderland had the highest percentage of broadband users and digital television users in the entire United Kingdom, with 66% having both services, well above the national average of 57%.

A person who is born or lives around the Sunderland area is known as a Mackem

 

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