Hampshire is a varied county in the south of England, with a warm, dry
climate. It has a variety of landcape types, including chalk downland
to the north and east, heathy wooded areas in the New Forest area to
the west, and a coastline with many creeks and inlets.
It is a popular holiday area; tourist attractions include its many
seaside resorts, the maritime area in Portsmouth, the motor museum at
Beaulieu and the New Forest, a National Park.
The coastal towns have developed into important ports and places for
leisure sailing. These include the naval port of Portsmouth and the
commercial port of Southampton, which is one of the busiest in the
country owing partly to the fact that it has four tides a day. Popular
places for leisure sailing include the yachting centre at Fareham.
Hampshire's county town is Winchester, a historic city with a Norman
cathedral, that was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Wessex
and the seat of King Alfred. Development in the past thirty years has
produced a conurbation consisting of the main towns of Winchester,
Portsmouth and Southampton by Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport and
extending eastwards to Havant.
Hampshire has a milder climate than most areas of the British Isles,
being in the far south with the climate stabilising effect of the sea,
but protected against the more extreme weather of the Atlantic coast.
Hampshire has a higher average annual temperature than the UK average
at 9.8°C to 12°C, average rainfall at 741–1060 mm per year, and higher
than average sunshine at over 1541 hours per year.