Portsmouth (/ˈpɔːrtsməθ/ (listen)) is a port city primarily built on Portsea Island in the county of Hampshire, South East England. It is also known colloquially as Pompey, a nickname shared with HMNB Portsmouth and Portsmouth Football Club. It is the United Kingdom's only island city.[4] Portsmouth is situated 70 miles (110 km) south-west of London and 19 miles (31 km) south-east of Southampton. Portsmouth's population was recorded as 205,100 in the 2011 UK Census. The city forms part of the South Hampshire conurbation.

City of Portsmouth
Heaven's Light Our Guide
Location in Hampshire
Location in England
Location in the United Kingdom
Location in Europe
Coordinates: 50°48′21″N 01°05′14″W
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
RegionSouth East England
Ceremonial countyHampshire
Admin HQPortsmouth city centre
  TypeUnitary authority, city
  Governing bodyPortsmouth City Council
  LeadershipLeader & Cabinet
  ExecutiveLiberal Democrat
  MPsStephen Morgan (Labour, South)
Penny Mordaunt (Conservative, North)
  City and unitary authority40.25 km2 (15.54 sq mi)
  City and unitary authority238,800 (ranked 76th)[1]
1,547,000 (2,007 estimate)[2]
(United Kingdom Census 2011 estimate)[3]
84% White British
4.3% White Other
6.1% Asian
1.8% Black
2.7% Mixed
1.1% Other
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
  Summer (DST)UTC+1 (Wednesday 8:30 am)
Postal code
Area code(s)023
Vehicle registration area codeHK, HL, HM, HN, HP, HR, HS, HT, HU, HV, HX, HY
AmbulanceSouth Central
WebsitePortsmouth City Council

Portsmouth's history can be traced back to Roman Britain. King Richard I first granted Portsmouth market town status on 2 May 1194 with a royal charter and a coat of arms, "a crescent of gold on a shade of azure, with a blazing star of eight points".[5] A significant naval port for centuries, Portsmouth has the world's oldest surviving dry dock still in active use, No.1 Dock which was built by Henry VII in 1495. Portsmouth was England's first line of defence during the 1545 French invasion.

By the early nineteenth century, the world's first mass-production line was set up in Portsmouth Dockyard's Block Mills; this made it the world's most industrialised site, and the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.[citation needed] The Palmerston Forts were built around Portsmouth in 1859 in anticipation of another invasion from continental Europe, then becoming the most heavily-fortified town in the world [citation needed] and was considered "the world's greatest naval port" at the height of the British Empire, during the Pax Britannica. [citation needed]

On 21 April 1926, Portsmouth was elevated from town to city status.[6] Its motto, "Heaven's Light Our Guide" (referring to the city's eight-pointed star and crescent-moon emblem), was registered in 1929.[7]

The city was extensively bombed in World War II's Portsmouth Blitz (which resulted in the deaths of 930 people). Portsmouth was also the pivotal embarkation point for the 6 June 1944 D-Day landings.

In 1982, a large proportion of the task force dispatched to liberate the Falkland Islands deployed from the city's naval base.[8][9]

The 800th anniversary of King Richard I's granting of a royal charter to Portsmouth was celebrated on 2 May 1994.[10] Portsmouth became a unitary authority on 1 April 1997, with its city council gaining the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council previously held by Hampshire County Council. Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia left the city to oversee the 1997 transfer of Hong Kong which, for many, marked the end of the British Empire.

HMNB Portsmouth, considered the home of the Royal Navy,[11][12] is the base for two-thirds of the UK's surface fleet. The city has a number of historically famous ships, including the Tudor carrack Mary Rose, Horatio Nelson's flagship HMS Victory (the world's oldest naval ship still in commission) and HMS Warrior, a Victorian ironclad warship.

The former HMS Vernon naval-shore establishment has been redeveloped as the Gunwharf Quays retail park. Portsmouth is among the few British cities with two cathedrals: the Anglican Cathedral of St Thomas and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Evangelist. The waterfront and Portsmouth Harbour are dominated by the Spinnaker Tower, one of the United Kingdom's tallest structures at 170 metres (560 ft). Southsea is a seaside resort with an amusement arcade on Clarence Pier.

Portsmouth F.C., the city's professional football club, play their home games at Fratton Park in Milton. Portsmouth has good road and rail links to London and the south of England. Portsmouth International Port is a commercial cruise-ship and international ferry port. It is the UK's second-busiest port (after Dover), handling about three million passengers a year. The University of Portsmouth has a student population of 23,000. Portsmouth is the birthplace of author Charles Dickens, engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and former Prime Minister James Callaghan.