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Cornwall is a ceremonial county and duchy, formerly a Celtic nation,[1] in the southwest of the United Kingdom. It has a land area of 1,375 square miles, and an estimated population of 537,400 at the 2011 census.

The county lies to the west of Devon, with which it has its only land boundary. Principal towns in Cornwall include Cambourne, St. Ives, St. Austell, Falmouth, Looe, Penzance, Newquay, Launceston and Bude. Truro is the only city, and the administrative centre or "capital" of Cornwall.[2]


Historically the area relied heavily on tin and lead mining as well as fishing, and smuggling and wrecking were also significant occupations.

Now, with one of the most favourable climates in Britain, the focus of industry is now firmly on tourism. Newquay is Britain's premier surfing resort. Cornwall is bounded on all sides but one by the sea, also making it a popular location for medium-scale drug smuggling and surfers.


Cornwall is regarded as being one of the Celtic nations, and has its own language, Cornish, related to modern Welsh and Breton. Although the language died out, it was revived and survives in written form and a growing number of people are learning it as part of a wider Celtic renaissance in the county. Most Cornish claim not to be English.

The county has its own flag, the flag of St. Piran, a white horizontal cross on a black background,[3] and its own political party, Mebyon Kernow,[4] now substantially represented on the council, which campaigns for greater local autonomy.


Unlike many English counties, which delegate some governing powers to the local districts or boroughs, Cornwall has a unitary authority, meaning that the county council, based in Truro, has all legal and administrative responsibility. This system was only introduced in 2009, with the local administrative districts being dissolved, despite the overwhelming opposition of residents.

The county is divided into six "county constituencies" that elected members to the House of Commons chamber of the British Parliament:

  • Camborne and Redruth;
  • North Cornwall;
  • St Ives;
  • South East Cornwall;
  • St Austell and Newquay; and
  • Truro and Falmouth

Since the 2015 general election, all of these constituencies are represented by members of the Conservative Party.


The Christian faith was introduced to Cornwall in the 4th and 5th century AD, possibly by the Irish abbot St. Piran, who is regarded today as the patron saint of the county (as well as of tin-miners). Christianity was the dominant religion in Cornwall for centuries; almost every village has at least one church, and churches can be found even in isolated areas on their own. Since the decline of church-going in the UK during the 20th century, many of these became disused and were sold to become private residences. Due to protective legislation older churches are protected from significant alterations by designations such as Grade II listing status.

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, Methodism became widely popular among the Cornish people, especially the lower class. The mass migration of Cornish natives to other parts of the world in the 19th and 20th centuries is sometimes considered a major factor in the international spread of the Methodist denomination.[5]