|Area 1,874 km²||Region South East|
|Colleges and Universities Open University|
Destinations High Wycombe, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Marlow, Amersham
Points of interest Waddesdon Manor, Bekonscot, Hellfire Caves, Cliveden, Hughenden Manor
Buckinghamshire ( or archaically the County of Buckingham; abbreviated Bucks) is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury, the largest town in the ceremonial county is Milton Keynes and largest town in the non-metropolitan county is High Wycombe.
Map of Buckinghamshire
The area under the control of Buckinghamshire County Council, or shire county, is divided into four districts—Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe. The Borough of Milton Keynes is a unitary authority and forms part of the county for various functions such as Lord Lieutenant but does not come under county council control. The ceremonial county, the area including Milton Keynes borough, borders Greater London (to the south east), Berkshire (to the south), Oxfordshire (to the west), Northamptonshire (to the north), Bedfordshire (to the north east) and Hertfordshire (to the east).
Sections of the county closer to London are part of the Metropolitan Green Belt, which limits development. It is the location of the nationally important Pinewood Studios and Dorney Lake, which held the rowing events at the 2012 Summer Olympics. It is also well known for the new town of Milton Keynes and the Chiltern Hills area of outstanding natural beauty.
The name Buckinghamshire is Anglo-Saxon in origin and means The district (scire) of Buccas home. Buccas home refers to Buckingham in the north of the county, and is named after an Anglo-Saxon landowner. The county has been so named since about the 12th century; however, the county has existed since it was a subdivision of the kingdom of Mercia (585–919).
The history of the area predates the Anglo-Saxon period and the county has a rich history starting from the Celtic and Roman periods, though the Anglo-Saxons perhaps had the greatest impact on Buckinghamshire: the geography of the rural county is largely as it was in the Anglo-Saxon period. Later, Buckinghamshire became an important political arena, with King Henry VIII intervening in local politics in the 16th century and just a century later the English Civil War was reputedly started by John Hampden in mid-Bucks.
Historically, the biggest change to the county came in the 19th century, when a combination of cholera and famine hit the rural county, forcing many to migrate to larger towns to find work. Not only did this alter the local economic situation, it meant a lot of land was going cheap at a time when the rich were more mobile and leafy Bucks became a popular rural idyll: an image it still has today. Buckinghamshire is a popular home for London commuters, leading to greater local affluence; however, some pockets of relative deprivation remain.
The expansion of London and coming of the railways promoted the growth of towns in the south of the county such as Aylesbury, Amersham and High Wycombe, leaving the town Buckingham itself to the north in a relative backwater. As a result, most county institutions are now based in the south of the county or Milton Keynes, rather than in Buckingham.
The county can be split into two sections geographically. The south leads from the River Thames up the gentle slopes of the Chiltern Hills to the more abrupt slopes on the northern side leading to the Vale of Aylesbury, a large flat expanse of land, which includes the path of the River Great Ouse.
Buckinghamshire has a modern service-based economy and is part of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire NUTS-2 region, which was the seventh richest subregion in the European Union in 2002. As well as the highest GDP per capita outside Inner London, Buckinghamshire has the highest quality of life, the highest life expectancy and the best education results in the country. The southern part of the county is a prosperous section of the London commuter belt. The county has fertile agricultural lands, with many landed estates, especially those of the Rothschild banking family of England in the 19th century (see Rothschild properties in England). The county has several annual agricultural shows, with the Bucks County Show established in 1859. Manufacturing industries include furniture-making (traditionally centred at High Wycombe), pharmaceuticals and agricultural processing.