Cheshire is a county of north-west England; its county town is the cathedral city of Chester. Traditionally, Cheshire's northern boundary was the River Mersey, which separated it from Lancashire; in the local government reorganisation of 1974 an area of Cheshire around Stockport was ceded to the new Metropolitan County of Greater Manchester and much of the Wirral peninsula became part of the new Metropolitan County of Merseyside; Cheshire gained the former Lancashire towns of Warrington and Widnes north of the river. Its other boundaries were largely unchanged. Cheshire is bounded to the west by Flintshire and the new district of Wrexham in north-east Wales, to the south by Shropshire, and to the east by Staffordshire and Derbyshire.
Much of Cheshire is low-lying and flat - the 'Cheshire Plain', though in the east the land rises in the Pennine foothills. The county is largely agricultural, though significant industries have since Roman times exploited the salt beds underlying the county. The 'Cheshire Witches', the towns of Northwich, Nantwich and Middlewich, grew prosperous on salt; and the industry also gave rise to the chemicals industry on the Mersey. Macclesfield, in the east of the county, specialised in silk manufacture, and Crewe in railway engineering. North Cheshire has some of the most expensive residential property in the United Kingdom, and the area around Alderley Edge is nicknamed the 'footballer belt', as many highly-paid football stars live in the vicinity.
The population of Cheshire (2005 estimate) is 993,200.