South West England is one of nine official regions of England. It is the largest such region in area, covering and comprising Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Five million people live in South West England.
The region includes the area often known as the West Country and much of the ancient kingdom of Wessex. The size of the region is shown by the fact that the northern part of Gloucestershire, near Chipping Campden, is as close to the Scottish border as it is to the tip of Cornwall. The largest city is Bristol. Other major urban centres include Plymouth, Swindon, Gloucester, Exeter, Bath, and the South East Dorset conurbation of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch. All counties either include at least one unitary authority or are unitary authorities themselves, as is the case with Cornwall and the Unitary Authority of Bristol. The region has 8 cities: Salisbury, Bath, Wells, Bristol, Gloucester, Exeter, Plymouth and Truro. It includes two National Parks - Dartmoor and Exmoor - and four World Heritage Sites, including Stonehenge and the Jurassic Coast.
The region is used for statistical analysis, being at the first level of NUTS for Eurostat purposes. 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, some local government co-ordination across the region is now undertaken by South West Councils.
The region has a particularly strong cultural identity. Cornwall has its own language, Cornish, and the region is known for its rich folklore, including the legend of King Arthur and Glastonbury Tor, as well as its many centuries-old traditions and customs. Traditionally, the South West of England has been well known for producing Cheddar cheese, which originated in the Somerset village of Cheddar, for Devon cream teas, crabs, Cornish pasties, and for cider. It is also well known as the home of the Eden Project, Aardman Animations, the Glastonbury Festival, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, trip hop music and Cornwall's surfing beaches. The region has by far the longest coastline in England, and is well known for its traditional seaside fishing towns.
The committees for the regions, including the one for South West England, ceased to exist upon the dissolution of Parliament on 12 April 2010; they were not re-established by the newly elected House. Regional ministers were not reappointed by the incoming Coalition Government, and the Government Offices were abolished in 2011.