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and the counties of Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, as well as the Isles of Scilly. The region includes the West Country and much of the ancient kingdom of Wessex. Other major urban centres include Plymouth, Swindon, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Exeter, Bath, Torbay, and the South East Dorset conurbation (which includes Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch).
There are eight cities: Salisbury, Bath, Wells, Bristol, Gloucester, Exeter, Plymouth and Truro.
It includes two entire national parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor (a small part of the New Forest is also within the region); and four World Heritage Sites, including Stonehenge and the Jurassic Coast.
The northern part of Gloucestershire, near Chipping Campden, is as close to the Scottish border as it is to the tip of Cornwall.
Most of the region is located on the South West Peninsula, between the English Channel and Bristol Channel.
It has the longest coastline of all the English regions, totalling over 700 miles (1,130 km).
Key data and facts about the region are produced by the South West Observatory.
Following the abolition of the South West Regional Assembly and Government Office, local government co-ordination across the region is now undertaken by South West Councils.
The region is known for its rich folklore, including the legend of King Arthur and Glastonbury Tor, as well as its traditions and customs.
Cornwall has its own language, Cornish, and some regard it as a Celtic nation.
The South West of England is known for Cheddar cheese, which originated in the Somerset village of Cheddar, Devon cream teas, crabs, Cornish pasties, and cider.