The city of Southampton is located in Hampshire on the south coast of England, where the rivers Test and Itchen enter Southampton Water, approximately 78 miles south-west of London and 18 miles north-west of Portsmouth.
The city has a population of around 221,000. Administratively the City of Southampton covers an area of approximately 50 sq kms.
It is major seaport with extensive docks and a harbour noted for its double tide, by way of the Solent and then from Spithead. It is also a university city and a thriving commercial and retail centre with excellent, leisure and entertainment, and visitor facilities. Despite severe bomb damage during WW2, and much redevelopment since, many historic buildings survive and remains of the ancient city walls can still be seen. There is a car ferry service to the Isle of Wight.
The town's history dates from Roman times when, known as Clausentum, it was an important trading port. By the 13th century Southampton had become a leading port, particularly involved in the wool trade. After being sacked by the French in 1338, the city walls were built. During the middle ages shipbuilding became an important industry and the town became a county corporate in 1447. Southampton continues to be a luxury liner port; RMS Titanic sailed from here in 1912, and today RMS QE2, RMS Oriana and the Queen Mary 2 all frequent the port. Southampton was awarded city status in 1964.
Historically the town's economy was based upon its position as a major port and this remains important. Overall, the service industry is the largest sector of the local economy, employing around 68% of all workers.
The name Southampton has its origins in the Anglo-Saxon period when they moved the centre of the town from across the River Itchen to what is now the St Mary's area. The settlement was known as Hamwic and this name evolved into Hamtun, and later to Hampton.