County of southwest England; Plymouth and Torbay have been separate unitary authorities since April 1998.
Area 6,720 sq km/2,594 sq mi
Towns and citiesExeter (administrative headquarters); resorts: Barnstaple, Bideford, Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Sidmouth, Teignmouth, Tiverton
Physical rivers: Dart, Exe, Plym, Tamar (94 km/58 mi), Taw, Teign, Torridge; National Parks: Dartmoor, Exmoor
Features Lundy bird sanctuary and marine nature reserve in the Bristol Channel
Agriculture sheep and dairy farming, beef cattle; cider and clotted cream; fishing
Industries kaolin; Dartington glass; quarrying (granite, limestone, sandstone); minerals (copper, iron, lead, manganese); tourism
Population (2001) 704,500
Famous people St Boniface, Henry de Bracton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Davis, Francis Drake, Humphrey Gilbert, Richard Grenville, John Hawkins, Charles Kingsley, Thomas Newcomen, Walter Raleigh, Joshua Reynolds, Robert F Scott, Joanna Southcott
Boundaries Devon is bounded by the Bristol Channel on the north; by Cornwall on the west; by the English Channel on the south; and by Dorset and Somerset on the east.
Topography The surface of Devon is hilly, with the rolling uplands of Dartmoor, and its numerous rugged tors, in the southwest. On the lower slopes of hills the soil is fertile, especially in the lower Exe valley, which has orchards and market gardens. The northern coast is very rugged, with cliffs 122–152 m/400–500 ft high; there are also rocky inlets, the largest of which is Bideford Bay. On the southern coast are the headlands Bolt Tail and Start Point, and the harbours Tor Bay and Plymouth Sound, one of the best harbours in Britain.
History Parts of Devon, particularly Dartmoor, are rich in prehistoric remains. It was one of the last counties to be conquered by the Saxons, and became one of the wealthiest parts of England, with an economy based on farming, fishing, mining, and the tin and woollen trades. There was also a large overseas trade; however, this began to decline during the 17th century.