Counties of England

England's administrative, geographical and political demarcation / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The counties of England are areas used for different purposes, which include administrative, geographical, cultural and political demarcation. The term "county" is defined in several ways and can apply to similar or the same areas used by each of these demarcation structures.[1] These different types of county each have a more formal name but are commonly referred to as just "counties". The current arrangement is the result of incremental reform.

Quick facts: Counties of England, Category, Location, Foun...
Counties of England
Historic counties
Ceremonial counties
Metropolitan and non‑metropolitan counties
LocationFlag_of_England.svg England
Found inRegions
Possible types

The original county structure has its origins in the Middle Ages.[2] These counties are often referred to as the historic, traditional or former counties.[3]

The Local Government Act 1888 created new areas for organising local government that it called administrative counties and county boroughs. These administrative areas adopted the names of, and closely resembled the areas of, the traditional counties. Later legislative changes to the new local government structure led to greater distinction between the traditional and the administrative counties.

The Local Government Act 1972 abolished the 1888 act, its administrative counties, and all county boroughs.[4] In their place, the 1972 Act created new areas for handling local government that were also called administrative counties.[5] The 1972 administrative counties differed distinctly in area from the 1888 administrative counties, which had now been abolished, and from the traditional counties, which had still not been abolished. Many of the names of the traditional counties were still being used now for the 1972 administrative counties. Later legislation created yet further area differences between the 1972 administrative counties and the traditional counties. As of 2023, for the purpose of administration, England outside Greater London and the Isles of Scilly is divided into 84 metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties.

The Lieutenancies Act 1997 created areas to be used for the purpose of the Lieutenancies Act. These newly created areas are called counties and areas for the purposes of lieutenancies, also called 'ceremonial counties' in informal usage, and are based on, but not always the same as, the areas of the 1972 administrative counties.

For the purpose of sorting and delivering mail, England was divided into 48 postal counties until 1996; they were then abandoned by Royal Mail in favour of postcodes.

The term "county", relating to any of its meanings, is used as the geographical basis for a number of institutions such as police and fire services,[6] sports clubs and other non-government organisations.