Southern England

Southern England, or the South of England, also known as the South, is a area of England consisiting of the southernmost parts of Great Britain, considered separate due to disinct cultural differences from other areas - Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and the North. The area includes the southern counties of England in the Government regions of the South West, the South East, Greater London and the East of England.

The exact boundaries of the South are sometimes disputed for geographical, cultural, political and economic reasons, especially the status of the East of England, however is generally better defined than the North's boundaries. It shares a border with the Midlands. The region consists of a population of nearly 28 million and an area of 62,042 square kilometres (23,955 sq mi), covering about one-quarter of the United Kingdom.

The South is often considered a principal cultural area and many consider the area to have a distinct identity from the rest of England, however without universal agreement on what cultural, political, and economic characteristics of the South are.

Definitions

For official purposes, the UK government does not refer to the Southern England as a single entity, but the Office for National Statistics divides UK into eleven regions. In England, the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber make up the North ("centre-north"); the West Midlands and East Midlands (as well as Wales) make up the Midlands ("centre-south") and the rest of England make up the South.

Culturally speaking, the majority of people think that the South consists of the South West (87%), South East (92%), Greater London (88%) and to lesser extent the East of England (57%). However, 35% of people surveyed placed the East of England as part of the Midlands. Generally people in the North tend to put the East of England in the South more than people in the South or Midlands.

Geography

The South is generally more low-lying that the North. There are a number of notable hill ranges, such as the Costwolds and the Chilterns. Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset form a peninsula extending towards the Atlantic.

London is the largest city in the South of England and is the capital of the United Kingdom. The London Metropolitan Area has a population of 14.2 million (2019), making it the largest metropolitan area in Europe.

Demographics

Language

English

English is the native language of the English people and the main language spoken in the South.

The South of England has a dialect and accent distinct from that of other parts of the UK. Due to the prominance of the South in media and politics, Standard British English is largely based on the English spoken in the South. For example, the standard British accent, Received Pronunciation, is very similar to London English.

Cornish

Cornish is a Celtic revived language and is an important part of the identity and culture of the Cornish people.

People

People often apply the terms "southern" and "south" loosely, without deeper consideration of the geographical identities of Southern England. This can cause confusion over the depth of affiliation between its areas. As in much of the rest of England, people tend to have a deeper affiliation to their county or city. Thus, residents of Essex are unlikely to feel much affinity with people in Oxfordshire. Similarly, there is a strong distinction between natives of the south-west and south-east. The broadcaster Stuart Maconie has noted that culturally "there's a bottom half of England [...] but there isn't a south in the same way that there's a north".

Health

Map of districts in England and Wales shaded by life expectancy.
Life expectancy at birth in England and Wales 2012 to 2014. Lighter colours indicate longer life expectancy.

One major manifestation of the North–South divide is in health and life expectancy statistics. All three Northern England statistical regions have lower than average life expectancies and higher than average rates of cancer, circulatory disease and respiratory disease. The South of England has a higher life expectancy than the North, however, regional differences do seem to be slowly narrowing: between 1991–1993 and 2012–2014, life expectancy in the North East increased by 6.0 years and in the North West by 5.8 years, the fastest increase in any region outside London, and the gap between life expectancy in the North East and South East is now 2.5 years, down from 2.9 in 1993. Furthermore, all such figures represent an average - affluent northern towns such as Harrogate have higher life expectancies than less affluent areas of the South such as Southampton or Plymouth.

Education

The South of England has a number of world-renowned universities, such as the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and many Russell Group universities, such as Imperial College London, University of Exeter and the London School of Economics.

Sport

Rugby

The sport of rugby experienced a schism in 1895 with many teams based in Yorkshire, Lancashire and surrounding areas breaking from the Rugby Football Union and forming their own League. The disagreement that led to the split was over the issue of professional payments, and "broken time" or injury payments. There is a perception that league is the code of rugby played in the north, whilst union is the code played in the south. One of the biggest derbies in Southern England is the West Country derby (Bath v Gloucester).

Football

The South Coast Derby is used to describe football matches played mainly between Portsmouth Football Club and Southampton Football Club.

However in Portsmouth's absence from top flight football, AFC Bournemouth and Brighton and Hove Albion – based about 30 miles (48 km) and 60 miles (97 km) from Southampton respectively – gained promotion to the Premier League, with some media outlets marketing fixtures against them as a South Coast derby;

Other major derbies in Southern England are West Country derbies and London derbies.

Divisions

In most definitions, Southern England includes all the counties on/near the English Channel. In terms of the current ceremonial counties:

  

Despite the general acceptance of these counties as Southern, those that compose the West Country are occasionally considered mutually exclusive to Southern England.

The exact northern extent varies and as with most geographical regions, people sometimes debate the boundaries. In the west, Southern England is generally taken to include Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire; in central Southern England, the counties of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire; to the east, Essex and the counties of East Anglia (Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk). For a period of time between the 16th and 20th Centuries, the county of Monmouthshire in Wales was often considered English due to both politics and the result of these having a cultural impact on the people who lived there. Therefore, in these instances it was grouped with southern England due to its border with Gloucestershire.

Despite these definitions, the northern boundary is generally taken to correspond to an imaginary line from the Severn Estuary to the Wash (or expressed in terms of towns, from Gloucester to King's Lynn).

Historic counties

The historic counties ceased to be used for any administrative purpose in 1899 but remain important to some people, notably for county cricket.

See also

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Southern England, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.