Lancashire (pronounced /ˈlæŋkəˌʃə/ or, less commonly, /ˈlæŋkəˌʃɪə/) is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Lancashire County Council is based in Preston. However, Lancaster is still considered to be the county town. Lancashire is sometimes referred to by the abbreviation Lancs, originally used by the Royal Mail. The population of the county is 1,449,700. People from the county are known as Lancastrians.
The history of Lancashire is thought to have begun with its founding in the 12th century. In the Domesday Book (1086), some of its lands had been treated as part of Yorkshire. The area in between the rivers Mersey and Ribble (referred to in the Domesday Book as "Inter Ripam et Mersam") formed part of the returns for Cheshire. Once its initial boundaries were established, it bordered Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire and Cheshire.
Lancashire emerged during the Industrial Revolution as a major commercial and industrial region. The county encompassed several hundred mill towns and collieries. By the 1830s, approximately 85% of all cotton manufactured worldwide was processed in Lancashire. Accrington, Blackburn, Chorley, Darwen and Burnley were major cotton mill towns during this time. Blackpool was a major centre for tourism for the inhabitants of Lancashire's mill towns, particularly during wakes week.
The county was subject to a significant boundary reform in 1974, which removed Liverpool and Manchester with most of their surrounding conurbations to form part of the metropolitan counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester. At this time, the detached Furness Peninsula was made part of Cumbria. Today the county borders Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and North and West Yorkshire. The Duchy of Lancaster exercises the right of the Crown in the area known as the County Palatine of Lancaster.