Southampton is a city and major port situated on the south coast of England. It is the closest city to the New Forest, situated approximately halfway between Portsmouth and Bournemouth. It lies at the northern-most point of Southampton Water where it is joined by the River Test and River Itchen, with the River Hamble joining to the south of the urban area. A resident of Southampton is called a Sotonian.
The city represents the core of the Greater Southampton region. Most of Southampton's municipal services, including the library and the well-endowed art gallery are to be found in the Civic Centre. The area of Swaythling is home to Ford's Southampton Assembly Plant, where the majority of their Transit models are manufactured.
Southampton is named the 'Green City' as it is graced with many green spaces and parks. Standing in any area of Southampton, if you turn 360 degrees you will see at least one form of greenery. The largest green space is Southampton Common, parts of which are used to host the annual summer festivals, circuses and funfairs. The Common covers a larger area than Hyde Park in London and includes a Wildlife Centre on the former site of Southampton Zoo, a swimming pool and several lakes and ponds.
Sailing is a popular sport here. Much of this is centred around the Ocean Village development, a local marina which includes one of the South Coast's major independent cinema complexes, Harbour Lights.
From 1977 to 2001 the famous Whitbread Around the World Yacht Race (now known as the Volvo Ocean Race) started in Southampton
Southampton has always been strongly connected with maritime history and developments. It is a primary port for cruise ships, its heyday being the first half of the 20th century. Today it remains home to many luxury liners, as well as being a very important container port.
The outstanding harbour means it is the principal port on the south coast, and one of the largest in the UK.
The city also boasts the Southampton Sports Centre which is the focal point for the public's sporting and outdoor activities and includes an Alpine Centre, Theme Park and Athletics Centre used by professional athletes. As with most cities there are several council estates such as those in the Weston district.
The city is home to the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University and West Quay shopping centre, which was the biggest city-centre shopping mall in Europe when it was opened. It is also the headquarters of Ordnance Survey, the UK's national mapping agency, and the location of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the focus of Natural Environment Research Council-funded marine research.
The Lloyd's Register Group has announced plans to move its London marine operations to a specially developed site at the University of Southampton. The local newspaper for the city is the Southern Daily Echo, a Newsquest publication.
Southampton has a vibrant nightlife and thriving cafe culture.
Music is an important aspect of the city and there are several stadiums and outlets for this.
The city is home to R'n'B soulstar Craig David, Coldplay drummer Will Champion, and was the birthplace of comedian Benny Hill.