Portsmouth (/ˈpɔərtsməθ/) is a large port city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Located mainly on Portsea Island, it is the United Kingdom's only island city. With a population of 205,400, it is the only city in the British Isles with a greater population density than London. The city is situated 64 miles (103 km) south-west of London and 19 miles (31 km) south-east of Southampton. The city of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Football Club are both nicknamed "Pompey". The naval base at HMNB Portsmouth is the largest dockyard for the Royal Navy and is home to two-thirds of the entire surface fleet.
The city has a long history which can be traced back to Roman times. As a significant naval port for centuries, Portsmouth has the world's oldest dry dock and is home to some famous ships, including HMS Warrior, the Tudor carrack Mary Rose and Lord Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory (the world's oldest naval ship still in commission). The city was England's first line of defence during the French invasion in 1545, and fortifications were built in 1859 in anticipation of another invasion. By the 19th century, Portsmouth was one of the most fortified cities in the world, and assisted in the expansion of the British Empire. During the Second World War, the city served as a pivotal embarkation point for the D-Day landings and was bombed extensively in the Portsmouth Blitz, which resulted in the deaths of 930 people. More recently, Portsmouth housed the majority of the attacking forces in the Falklands War, and Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia left the city to oversee the transfer of Hong Kong.
The waterfront area and Portsmouth Harbour are dominated by the Spinnaker Tower, one of the United Kingdom's tallest structures at 560 feet (170 m). The former HMS Vernon naval shore establishment has now been redeveloped as an area of retail outlets, restaurants, clubs and pubs known as Gunwharf Quays. As well as the naval base, Portsmouth International Port is a commercial cruise ship and ferry port which serves international destinations for freight and passenger traffic. 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.
Portsmouth forms part of the South Hampshire built-up area, which also covers Southampton and the towns of Havant, Waterlooville, Eastleigh, Fareham and Gosport. With about 860,000 residents, it is the 6th largest urban area in England and the largest in South East England, forming the centre of one of the United Kingdom's most populous metropolitan areas with a population in excess of one million. The local authority, Portsmouth City Council, was given unitary authority status in 1997.
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