First, the pronunciation is nothing like the spelling: it's pronounced "Lester". (There are a few other quirks: for instance, one of the streets is called "Belvoir", but pronounced "beaver"; the same applies to Belvoir Castle). It is at the centre of the county of Leicestershire.

Leicester was founded by the Romans, and was a staging post on the old Fosse Way to Lincoln: evidence of their occupation can be seen at the Jewry Wall Museum, just outside the city centre. It was also important during the Viking era (as in York, several of the street names end with "Gate"). The Guildhall is a beautifully preserved medieval building in the centre, and there are ruins of Leicester castle nearby.

In 2012, the skeleton of King Richard III was found in a hastily dug grave beneath a car park in Leicester. The story of the archaeological dig, excavation of the Greyfriars church site, and identification of the remains is told through a temporary exhibition at the Guildhall, with a dedicated Visitor Centre scheduled for opening in 2014. The last Yorkist king died in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field, a short drive away, effectively ending the Wars of the Roses.

Modern day Leicester has a population of approximately 300,000. The county as a whole has a population of about 1 million.

In the 1970s, there was a large influx of Indo-Asians fleeing Idi Amin's Uganda, and they and their descendants form an increasing percentage of the city's population. There is a particularly large concentration to the north of the city, in Belgrave Road, which has a number of very good restaurants. It is especially good to visit in late October- early November, when Diwali is celebrated and the whole district is brightly decorated with thousands of lights.

The city has two universities: the University of Leicester, just south of the centre, and De Montfort University to the west. Leicester University has a highly-rated medical school, but is probably best known for the development of DNA finger-printing and the discovery of Richard III's remains.