Christchurch is a borough and town on the south coast of England. The town adjoins Bournemouth in the west and the New Forest lies to the east. Historically in the county of Hampshire, it became a district municipality of the administrative county of Dorset in the 1974 reorganisation of local government. Covering an area of 19.5 square miles (51 km2), Christchurch had a 2011 population of 54,210, making it the fourth most populous town in Dorset, closely behind Weymouth which had a population of 54,539.
Founded in the 7th century at the confluence of the rivers Avon and Stour which flow into Christchurch Harbour, the town was originally named Twynham but became known as Christchurch following the construction of the priory in 1094. The town developed into an important trading port and was fortified in the 9th century. Further defences were added in the 12th century with the construction of a castle which was destroyed by the Parliamentarian Army during the English Civil War. During the 18th and 19th centuries smuggling flourished in Christchurch and became one of the town's most lucrative industries. The town was heavily fortified during Second World War as a precaution against an expected invasion and in 1940 an Airspeed factory was established on the town's airfield which manufactured aircraft for the Royal Air Force.
The town's harbour, beaches, nature reserves and historically important buildings have made Christchurch a popular tourist destination attracting some 1.5 million visitors a year. Bournemouth Airport, an international airport which handles approximately 800,000 passengers a year, is located within the borough boundary at Hurn. The airport's industrial park contains a number of aerospace and engineering businesses and is one of the largest employment sites in Dorset. Christchurch is a popular destination for retirees and has one of the oldest populations in the country with 30 per cent of residents aged over 65.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Christchurch.