Southern England

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Southern England
South of England
The South
Sub-national area of England
North-South divide in England.svg
In this image, official definitions of Southern England are illustrated as yellow.
Sovereign state
10 largest Settlements in order of population
  Total62,042 km2 (23,955 sq mi)
  Density450/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Demonym Southerner
Time zone GMT (UTC)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)

Southern England, also known as the South of England or the South, is sub-national part of England; with cultural, economic and political differing from both the Midlands and the North, the Midlands being a dialect chain in a notable north–south divide of England. The sub-national area's official population is nearly 28 million and an area of 62,042 square kilometres (23,955 sq mi): roughly 40% of United Kingdom's population and approximately a quarter of its area.


Influential, geographic and political divisions have created multiple internal identities to the sub-national area of England. The influential divide is defined by closeness to the capital; the Greater London itself, the Home Counties and outer areas. The Home Counties identify in a similar way to the neighbouring English Midlands, in this case sharing culture with London and the outer areas yet identifying as separate to each. The geographic split is north-east (fenlands), south (downlands and a coastal plain) and west (following the River Thames to the Bristol channel and a peninsula). The north-east fenlands for example have been affected by the London's expansion; the traditional Cockney dialect's population of London's East End have moved out to the north and east Home Counties with a knock on effect to East Anglia's population. The political divide is the International Territorial Level; the regional level defines the south as London, the South East, the South West and the East [1]


For official purposes, the UK government does not refer to Southern England as a single entity, but the Office for National Statistics divides UK into twelve 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. [1]

Culturally speaking, the majority of people think that the South consists of the South East (92%), Greater London (88%), South West (87%), and to lesser extent the East of England (57%). [2] 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.[ citation needed ]


The South has a land border with the Midlands and a sea border with France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The South is generally more low-lying than the North. There are a number of hill ranges, such as the Cotswolds and the Chilterns.

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. [3]




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 prominence 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 the educated speech of London, Oxford and Cambridge. [4]


Cornish is a revived language spoken in Cornwall and is an important part of the identity and culture of the Cornish people. [5]


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". [6]


Life expectancy at birth for boys in 2012-2014 by local authority district in England and Wales. Lighter colours indicate longer life expectancy. EWHealthMap.svg
Life expectancy at birth for boys in 2012-2014 by local authority district in England and Wales. Lighter colours indicate longer life expectancy.

One major manifestation of the North–South divide is in health and life expectancy statistics. [7] All three Northern England statistical regions have lower than average life expectancies and higher than average rates of cancer, circulatory disease and respiratory disease. [8] [9] 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. [9] 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.


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.



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; [10] [11] [12]

Other major derbies in Southern England are West Country derbies and London derbies. [13] [14]


Rugby union is the dominant code played in the south with a minor rugby league presence. [lower-alpha 1] One of the biggest derbies is the West Country derby (Bath v Gloucester). [15]


Regions and ceremonial counties

Southern England consists of four regions and 22 counties: the East of England, London, South East and South West. Ceremonial counties are:


South West:

South East:




They is a network of local enterprise partnerships, some areas are further devolved:

Catalyst South (strategic alliance):

  • Coast to Capital
  • Enterprise M3
  • Hertfordshire
  • South East
  • Solent
  • Thames Valley Berkshire
  • GFirst
  • Heart of the South West

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


  1. 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 rugby code. The disagreement was over the professional payments and "broken time" or injury payments.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">South West England</span> Region of England

South West England, or the South West of England, is one of nine official regions of England. It consists of the counties of Bristol, Cornwall, Dorset, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. Cities and large towns in the region include Bath, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cheltenham, Exeter, Gloucester, Plymouth and Swindon. It is geographically the largest of the nine regions of England covering 9,200 square miles (23,800 km2), but the third-least populous, with approximately five million residents.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">East Midlands</span> Region of England

The East Midlands is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of ITL for statistical purposes. It comprises the eastern half of the area traditionally known as the Midlands. It consists of Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland. The region has an area of 15,627 km2 (6,034 sq mi), with a population over 4.5 million in 2011. The most populous settlements in the region are Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Mansfield, Northampton and Nottingham. Other notable settlements include Boston, Buxton, Chesterfield, Corby, Coalville, Gainsborough, Glossop, Grantham, Hinckley, Kettering, Loughborough, Louth, Market Harborough, Matlock, Newark-on-Trent, Oakham, Skegness, Wellingborough, Worksop and Towcester

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Derbyshire</span> Ceremonial county in East Midlands, England

Derbyshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East Midlands, England. The county is the westernmost in the East Midlands. It covers much of the Peak District National Park, the southern end of the Pennine range of hills and part of the National Forest. It is bordered by Greater Manchester to the north-west, West Yorkshire to the north, South Yorkshire to the north-east, Nottinghamshire to the east, Leicestershire to the south-east, Staffordshire to the west and south-west, and Cheshire to the west. The county's largest settlement and only city, Derby, is now administered as a unitary authority. The rest of Derbyshire remains in the Derbyshire County Council local authority area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Midlands</span> Place in England

The Midlands are a part of England that broadly correspond to the Kingdom of Mercia of the Early Middle Ages, bordered by Wales, Northern England, Southern England and the North Sea. The Midlands were important in the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries. They are split into the West Midlands and East Midlands. The region's biggest city, Birmingham – often considered the social, cultural, financial and commercial centre of the Midlands, – is the second-largest city and metropolitan area in the United Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northern England</span> Cultural area of Great Britain

Northern England, also known as the North of England, the North Country, or simply the North, is the northern area of England. It broadly corresponds to the former borders of Angle Northumbria, the Anglo-Scandinavian Kingdom of Jorvik, and the Celt Britonic Yr Hen Ogledd Kingdoms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lists of schools in England</span>

The schools in England are organised into local education authorities. There are 150 local education authorities in England organised into nine larger regions. According to the Schools Census there were 3,408 maintained government secondary schools in England in 2017.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">English language in Northern England</span> Collection of accents and dialects

The English language in Northern England has been shaped by the region's history of settlement and migration, and today encompasses a group of related dialects known as Northern England English. The strongest influence on the modern varieties of the English language spoken in Northern England is the Northumbrian dialect of Middle English, but also contact with Old Norse during the Viking Age, with Irish English following the Great Famine and particularly in Lancashire and the south of Yorkshire, with Midlands dialects since the Industrial Revolution, have produced new and distinctive styles of speech. Some "Northern" traits can be found further south than others: only conservative Northumbrian dialects retain the pre-Great Vowel Shift pronunciation of words such as town, but all northern accents lack the FOOTSTRUT split, and this trait extends a significant distance into the Midlands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England</span> Subdivisions of England

Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties are one of the four levels of subdivisions of England used for the purposes of local government outside Greater London and the Isles of Scilly. As originally constituted, the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties each consisted of multiple districts, had a county council and were also the counties for the purposes of Lieutenancies. Later changes in legislation during the 1980s and 1990s have resulted in counties with no county council and 'unitary authority' counties with no districts. Counties for the purposes of Lieutenancies are now defined separately, based on the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">North–South divide in England</span> Cultural and socio-economic differences

In England, the term North–South divide refers to the cultural, economic, and social differences between:

England is divided by a number of different regional schemes for various purposes. Since the creation of the Government Office Regions in 1994 and their adoption for statistical purposes in 1999, some historical regional schemes have become obsolete. However, many alternative regional designations also exist and continue to be widely used.

Regional 1 South West is a level five league in the English rugby union system. It is one of six leagues at this level. When this division began in 1987 it was known as South West Division 1. The format of the league was changed at the beginning of the 2009–10 season following reorganisation by the Rugby Football Union, and the name change from National League 3 to South West Premier was introduced for the 2017–18 season by the RFU in order to lessen confusion for what is a series of regional leagues. Regional 1 South West, is the highest regional rugby union league covering South West England. The club finishing in first place is automatically promoted to National League 2 West. Relegated teams drop down to either Regional 2 South West or Regional 2 Severn, depending on location.

The English language spoken and written in England encompasses a diverse range of accents and dialects. The language forms part of the broader British English, along with other varieties in the United Kingdom. Terms used to refer to the English language spoken and written in England include: English English and Anglo-English.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rugby Football Union for Women</span> Governing body for womens rugby union in England

The Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW) was the governing body for women's rugby union in England. In 2014 the RFUW and Rugby Football Union (RFU) combined to be one national governing body. The headquarters are at Twickenham Stadium, London.

In Great Britain, the term North–South divide refers to the economic, cultural and political differences between Southern England and Northern England, or sometimes between southern England and the rest of Great Britain including the Midlands of England, Wales and Scotland. In mainstream interpretation, the divide cuts through The Midlands. The term has been widened to include the whole United Kingdom, with Northern Ireland included as part of "the North".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Index of United Kingdom–related articles</span>

The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to the United Kingdom.

The RFU Senior Vase is a rugby union national knockout cup competition in England run by the Rugby Football Union, which has been competed for since the 2006–07 season. It is contested for by teams at level 8 of the English rugby union system, with only 1st XV sides being allowed to enter. The competition is a national one but is split into regions until the semi-finals with the final being held at Twickenham Stadium in London. As of 2018-19 it is the fourth most prestigious national club cup competition in England behind the Premiership Rugby Cup, RFU Championship Cup and RFU Intermediate Cup.

The RFU Junior Vase is a rugby union national knockout cup competition in England run by the Rugby Football Union, which has been competed for since 1990. It is mostly contested by 1st XV teams at level 9 of the English rugby union system, although sides as low as level 12 or even outside the league system can sometimes enter. The competition is a national one, but split into regions until the national semi-finals with the final being held at Twickenham Stadium in London. Presently, the RFU Junior Vase is the fifth most important club cup competition in England, behind the Premiership Rugby Cup, RFU Championship Cup, RFU Intermediate Cup and RFU Senior Vase.

The 2017–18 RFU Junior Vase is the 28th version of the RFU Junior Vase national cup competition for clubs at level 9 and below of the English rugby union system. The competition consists of 134 clubs divided into four regions. The winners of each region then advance to the national semi-finals with the final being held at Twickenham Stadium in London at the end of the season, along with the RFU Intermediate Cup and RFU Senior Vase finals.

The 2017–18 RFU Senior Vase is the 12th version of the RFU Senior Vase national cup competition for clubs at level 8 of the English rugby union system. The competition consists of 94 clubs divided into four regions. The winners of each region then advance to the national semi-finals with the final being held at Twickenham Stadium in London at the end of the season, along with the RFU Intermediate Cup and RFU Junior Vase finals.


  1. 1 2 "United Kingdom, NUTS 2013" (PDF). Eurostat.
  2. "What regions make up the North and South of England? | YouGov". Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  3. "Eurostat - Data Explorer". 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  4. Robinson, Jonnie. "Received Pronunciation". British Library. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  5. "Funding boost to safeguard Cornish language announced". GOV.UK. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  6. Maconie, Stuart (2007). Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North. Ebury Press. p. 1. ISBN   978-0-09-191022-8.
  7. Kirk, Ashley (15 September 2015). "Life expectancy increases to 81 years old - but north-south divide remains". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 March 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  8. Ellis, Amy; Fry, Robert (2010). "Regional health inequalities in England" (PDF). Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  9. 1 2 Olatunde, Olugbenga (4 November 2015). "Life Expectancy at Birth and at Age 65 by Local Areas in England and Wales: 2012 to 2014". Office of National Statistics. Archived from the original on 15 March 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  10. AFC Bournemouth: What should we call the derby between Cherries and Southampton?, Bournemouth Daily Echo, 30 October 2015
  11. Southampton snatch equaliser against Brighton in the south coast derby but remain in the relegation zone, The Independent, 31 January 2018
  12. Bournemouth against Southampton the “other” South Coast Derby, Vital Football, 18 October 2018
  13. "London derbies ranked on ferocity of rivalry, including Tottenham v Arsenal and West Ham v Chelsea". TalkSport. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  14. "The 10 biggest rivalries in London football" . The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  15. "Gloucester v Bath: The legend of the West County derby". BBC Sport. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2015.