Southampton on the south coast of England, is the largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire. It is 75 miles south-west of London and 19 miles north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest. It lies at the northernmost point of Southampton Water at the confluence of the Rivers Test and Itchen, with the River Hamble joining to the south of the urban area. The city, which is a unitary authority, has an estimated population of 253,651. The city’s name is sometimes abbreviated in writing to “So’ton” or “Soton”, and a resident of Southampton is called a Sotonian.
Significant employers in the city include the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University, Southampton Airport, Ordnance Survey, BBC South, the NHS, ABP and Carnival UK. Southampton is noted for its association with the RMS Titanic, the Spitfire and more generally in the World War II narrative as one of the departure points for D-Day, and more recently as the home port of a number of the largest cruise ships in the world. Southampton has a large shopping centre and retail park, Westquay. In 2014, the city council approved a follow-up from the Westquay park, WestQuay Watermark (now known as Westquay South) and construction began in January 2015.
In the 2001 census Southampton and Portsmouth were recorded as being parts of separate urban areas, however by the time of the 2011 census they had merged to become the sixth largest built-up area in England with a population of 855,569. This built-up area is part of the metropolitan area known as South Hampshire, which is also known as Solent City, particularly in the media when discussing local governance organisational changes. With a population of over 1.5 million this makes the region one of the United Kingdom’s most populous metropolitan areas.
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