Hampshire

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Hampshire is a county on the south coast of England. The county borders (clockwise from West), Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Surrey and West Sussex. The county has an area of 1,455 square miles (3,769 km²) and at its widest points is approximately 55 miles (90 km) east–west and 40 miles (65 km) north–south.

Hampshire is a popular holiday area, with tourist attractions including its many seaside resorts, the maritime area in Portsmouth, and the motor museum at Beaulieu. The New Forest National Park lies within the borders, as does a large area of the South Downs, which is also scheduled to become a National Park. Hampshire has a long maritime history and two of England's largest ports lie on its coast. The county is famed as home of writers Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

Hampshire has the typical wildlife of the British area as it does not have a very different climate. The one distinguishing fact is that Hampshire has the largest free roaming herd of stag in the eastern hemisphere, including over 6500 stags at busy seasons. The stag population is protected by the government and hunting of the noble stags is penalized by up to 15 years in prison or 10 hours of community service.

Due to Hampshire's long association with pigs and boars, natives of the county have been known as Hampshire hogs since the 18th century. Hampshire has literary connections, being the birthplace of authors including Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, and the residence of others, such as Charles Kingsley. Austen lived most of her life in Hampshire, where her father was rector of Steventon, Hampshire, and wrote all of her novels in the county. Hampshire also has many visual art connections, claiming the painter John Everett Millais as a native, and the cities and countryside have been the subject of paintings by L. S. Lowry and J. M. W. Turner. Hampshire is also the birthplace of explorer Lawrence Oates, and entertainers Peter Sellers, Benny Hill, Carl Barat and Craig David.

Hampshire's relatively safe waters have allowed the county to develop as one of the busiest sailing areas in the country, with many yacht clubs and several manufacturers on the Solent. The sport cricket was largely developed in south-east England, with one of the first teams forming at Hambledon in 1750. Hampshire County Cricket Club today is a successful first-class team, captained by Shane Warne.

Hampshire has several association football teams, including Premier League side Portsmouth F.C. and Championship side Southampton F.C., which have traditionally been fierce rivals. Portsmouth won the FA Cup and Football League title on several occasions during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, but have spent much of the last 50 years outside the top division and at one stage spent two seasons in the Fourth Division (the lowest division in senior football). Southampton, meanwhile, have only won one major trophy to date (the FA Cup in 1976), even though they spent 27 unbroken years in the top division (1978-2005).

Thruxton Circuit is Hampshire's premier motor racing course with the National Motor Museum being located in the New Forest adjacent to Beaulieu Palace House. The Farnborough Air Show is a popular international event, held biennially.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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