The North East’s popular places include the MetroCentre, Europe’s largest shopping centre, Northumberland National Park, the region's coastline is an area of great natural beauty. There are two World Heritage sites at Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle along with many historical castles in Northumberland.
St. Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland along with St. Pauls in Jarrow also hold significant historical value. They have a joint bid to become a World Heritage Site The region's strong religious history can also been seen in works such as the Lindisfarne Gospels.
Swan Hunter until 2006 manufactured ships in Wallsend, and to this day continues designing them. The shipbuilding industry that once dominated both Sunderland (once the largest shipbuilding town in the world) and Tyneside suffered a marked decline during the second half of the twentieth century. Tyneside is now re-inventing itself as an international centre of art and culture and, through The Centre For Life, scientific research (especially in stem cell technology) and popular nightlife, in areas such as the Quayside or The Gate. High tech industries and scientific companies are now becoming more common within Sunderland. Steel and the petrochemical industries are dominant in the Teeside economy.
In May 2005, the 'Passionate people Passionate places' regional image campaign was launched to magnify North East England as a great place in which to work, study, visit and invest. Extensive moorland areas and maritime cliffs characterise the diverse landscape of the North east. The salt marshes of Lindisfarne, the Tees Estuary, the heaths, bogs and traditional upland hay meadows of the North Pennines, the distinctive Arctic-alpine flora of Upper Teesdale, the Farne Islands (which contain rare seabirds such as the Roseate Tern) and the magnesian limestone grasslands of East Durham - a habitat found nowhere else in the world are other important environments of the North east. The North East also houses woodland such as Kielder Forest, the largest man-made forest in Europe. This is an important habitat for the endangered red squirrel located in Northumberland National Park.
The North East is the English stronghold of black grouse and contains 80-90% of the UK population of yellow marsh saxifrage. Rainton Meadows is a new purpose made area for bird watching.
Sunderland and Teeside is now connected to London via the Grand Central Railway which was opened in 2007, this network doesn’t use electric trains. In 1967 The Tyne Tunnel was launched as a single-carriageway, and a new tunnel, built alongside, was opened in February 2011. The economy was for several decades unusually highly concentrated on two industries, ship building and coal mining (in Durham and Northumberland). Surface mining by UK Coal is about to take place at Stobswood in Northumberland and Steadsburn close to Widdrington Station.
As the world's first steam-hauled passenger railway passed through Darlington it has a close association with the railway. Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company which is responsible for the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Tyne Bridge is still based in Darlington. The town centre continues to develop into a successful retail hub for the region and Darlington's economy is one of the most improving in the country.
Teesport is the second busiest port in the country. There is a CHP power station and a gas turbine power station on the ICI Wilton site and a nuclear power station at Hartlepool. The area at Wilton and Teesmouth is an extensive chemicals processing site, and has recently diversified into being the UK's leading site for (renewable) biofuel research.
Tetley Tea have had their only tea bag factory in the UK at Eaglescliffe, in the borough of Stockton-on-Tees since 1969. Manufacturing 18 billion tea bags per year makes it the biggest tea bag factory in the world. In County Durham at the nearby Newton Aycliffe is the distribution centre.
Carlsberg and Heineken purchased the largest UK owned brewery Scottish & Newcastle in 2008, and is based in Dunston at the Newcastle Federation Brewery. Other large companies based in the area include De La Rue, whose largest banknote printing factory is in Team Valley, Nestle who have a chocolate factory is Fawdon and Siemens who make steam turbines at the CA Parsons Works in South Heaton.