Hampshire, or Hants, properly Southamptonshire, an English eounty, bounded on the N. by Berkshire, on the E. by Surrey and Sussex, on the W. by Wiltshire and Dorsetshire, and on the S. by the English Channel. The area, including that of the Isle of Wight, is 1,070,216 acres. The Southampton Water, an inlet of the Channel, seven miles in length, runs in a north-westerly direction almost to the Wiltshire border, dividing the county into two parts. The larger division - the northeastern - contains the ridges of the North and South Downs; the south-western is almost entirely covered by the New Forest. There are also extensive tracts of woodland in the east and south-east, forming parts of the ancient forests of Bere, Woolmer, and Waltham Chase. The chief rivers are the Itchen, and the Anton or Test, flowing into the Southampton Water, and the Avon, near the Dorsetshire border, which joins the Stour a little below Christchurch, and falls into the Channel. The climate is mild, especially in the Isle of Wight.
Hampshire is mainly an agricultural county; the chief cereal is wheat; hops are also grown, and the bacon cured here is considered the best in England. The manufactures are insignificant, but the county derives some commercial importance from the excellent harbourage afforded by its seaboard, and the roadstead of Spithead, opposite Portsmouth, is one of the stations of her Majesty's fleet. Southampton and Portsmouth, the leading ports, are also the chief centres of trade. There are five parliamentary divisions, exclusive of the Isle of Wight-the North or Basingstoke, the East or Petersfield, the West or Andover, and the New Forest. The parliamentary boroughs are Winchester, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Christchurch. Among the ancient buildings may be mentioned those at Winchester (q.v.), Porchester Castle, near Portsmouth, Hurst and Carisbrooke Castles, and Netley and Beaulieu Abbeys.