|Area: 40.40 kmē|
Reading is a town and unitary authority (the Borough of Reading) in the English county of Berkshire. It is located at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, midway between London and Swindon off the M4 motorway. The name Reading is pronounced to rhyme with bedding
Reading was an important centre in the mediaeval period, as the site of an important monastery with strong royal connections, but suffered serious economic damage during the 17th century from which it took a long time to recover. Today it is again an important commercial centre in Southern England and is often referred to as the capital of the Thames Valley, with the headquarters of some major British companies and the UK offices of a number of major foreign multinationals, especially in the IT industry, including Microsoft, Oracle, Sage, Xansa and Yell.com.
It should be noted that, depending on the definition adopted, the town is not necessarily co-terminous with the borough. Thus, for example, the borough has a population of 144,000 in an area of 40.40 kmē, whilst the Office of National Statistics' definition of the urban area of Reading is significantly larger at 232,662 people in an area of 55.35 kmē. This latter area incorporates the town's eastern suburbs of Woodley, Earley and Lower Earley and Calcot to the west, which are not within the borough, and is itself a component of the Reading/Wokingham Urban Area. Reading is the 17th largest settlement, and the largest town, in England, based on the population of the urban sub-area