Gloucestershire is an English county situated at the northern edge of the south west region of the United Kingdom.
Gloucestershire covers an area of 2,654 km (21,025 square miles) including the largest Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK.
Essentially a rural county, Gloucestershire has been known since Roman times for farming, forestry and horticulture with an industrial history featuring the wool trade.
Geographically, it splits into three areas, the Cotswolds, the Royal Forest of Dean and the Severn Vale with a total population of about 575,200.
Gloucester and Cheltenham lie at the heart of the county, linked by the A40 road and either side of the M5 motorway. There are good connections to the south west via the M5, to the north via the M5/M6 and M42 motorways, Wales using the A40 and the M4 motorway and to London and the South East using the A40 and the M4 motorway.
The Fosse Way runs through the county north to south taking travellers from Cirencester to Stow on the Wold and Moreton in Marsh whilst the Ermin Way crosses east to west from Cirencester to Ross.
There are regular rail services through the county :
London Paddington via Swindon, Kemble and Stroud to Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury (Ashchurch)
London Paddington to Moreton in Marsh
Gloucester to Cardiff
Birmingham to Bristol via Cheltenham and Gloucester
There is a local airport at Staverton, between Cheltenham and Gloucester and major airports just outside the county but within easy reach at Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham.
The county town is the city of Gloucester and other principal towns include Cheltenham, Stroud, Cirencester, and Tewkesbury.
The official former postal county abbreviation was "Glos.".
Official County of Gloucestershire England website: www.gloucestershire.gov.uk
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