|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2012)|
|Nickname(s): Down South|
|East Anglia is shown as yellow, Northern England as blue, and The Midlands as green|
|Country part of||England|
|• Total||62,042 km2 (23,955 sq mi)|
|Population (January 2007 estimate)|
Southern England, the South and the South of England are imprecise terms that refer to the southern counties of England that border the English Midlands. A number of different interpretations describe its geographic extents. Many consider the South a cultural region, with a distinct identity from the rest of England—but without universal agreement on what the special cultural, political, and economic characteristics of the South are, nor even on its geographical limits. For government purposes, Southern England is divided in South West England, South East England, London, and the East of England. Combined, these have a total area of 62,042 square kilometres (23,955 sq mi), and a population of 26 million.
People often apply the term "southern" loosely, without deeper consideration of the geographical identities of Southern England. This can cause confusion over the depth of affiliation between its areas. As in much of the rest of England, people tend to have a deeper affiliation to their county or city. Thus, residents of Essex are unlikely to feel much affinity with people in Oxfordshire. Similarly, there is a strong distinction between natives of the south-west and south-east.
The sport of rugby experienced a schism in 1895 with many teams based in Yorkshire, Lancashire and surrounding areas breaking from the Rugby Football Union and forming their own League. The disagreement that led to the split was over the issue of professional payments, and "broken time" or injury payments. Until recent times, there has been a perception that 'league' was the code of rugby played in the north, whilst 'union' was the code played in the south.
In most definitions, Southern England includes all the counties on/near the English Channel. In terms of the current ceremonial counties:
Despite the general acceptance of these counties as Southern, those that comprise the West Country are occasionally considered mutually exclusive to Southern England.
The exact northern extent varies and, as with most cultural regions, people sometimes debate the exact boundaries. In the west, Southern England is generally taken to include Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire; in central Southern England, the counties of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Hertfordshire; and to the east, Essex and the counties of East Anglia (Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk); however, there is sometimes confusion with these counties as to whether they are a part of the Midlands.
Despite these varying boundary definitions, however, the northern boundary is generally taken to correspond to an imaginary line from the Severn Estuary to the Wash (or, expressed in terms of towns, from Gloucester to King's Lynn).