The county of Hampshire is situated in the far south of England, roughly half-way between the east and west ends of the South Coast. It is bordered to the west by Dorset and Wiltshire, to the north by Berkshire and to the east by Surrey and West Sussex. Most of Hampshire's southern coastline is on the Solent, the strait separating mainland Britain from the Isle of Wight.
Most of the county is within 1-2 hours' reach of London by main-line railway and motorway links.
With a population of 1,240,032 (2001 census) and covering an area of 367,860 hectares (excluding Southampton and Portsmouth), Hampshire is one of the largest non-metropolitan or "shire" counties in England.
Hampshire is one of the traditional counties of England, with a recorded history dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, over 1,000 years.
"Hampshire" is often abbreviated in written form to "Hants" and which sometimes gives rise to puzzlement. The abbreviated form is derived from the Old English Hantum plus Scir (meaning a district governed from the settlement now known as Southampton) and the Anglo-Saxons called it Hamtunschire. At the time of the Domesday Book (1086) this was compressed to Hantescire.