|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 used to refer to the southern counties of England bordering the English Midlands. It has a number of different interpretations of its geographic extents. The South is considered by many to be a cultural region with a distinct identity from that of the rest of England. The special cultural, political and economic characteristics of "the South" are, however, not universally agreed upon, nor are its geographical limits and stereotypes of the South mask the cultural, physical and historical differences within this region. For government purposes Southern England is divided in South West England, South East England, Greater 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.
The term "southern" is often loosely used without any deeper consideration of the geographical identities of Southern England, leading to 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 their city. Thus, residents of Essex would be unlikely to feel much affinity with those from across in Oxfordshire. Similarly, there is a strong distinction between natives of the south-west and those of the 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:
- Isle of Wight
- West Sussex
- East Sussex
- Greater London
Despite the general acceptance of these counties as Southern, those which comprise the West Country are occasionally considered as mutually exclusive to Southern England.
The exact northern extent can vary, and, as with most cultural regions, the boundaries of the South are sometimes disputed. In the west, Southern England is generally taken to include Gloucestershire, Herefordshire 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 drawn from the Severn Estuary to the Wash (or, expressed in terms of towns, from Gloucester to King's Lynn).