Essex (/ˈɛsɪks/) is a county in the East of England. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, the North Sea to the east, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south and Greater London to the south and south-west. The county town is Chelmsford, which remains the only city in the ceremonial county until Southend-on-Sea is formally accorded city status. For the purposes of government statistics, Essex is placed in the East of England region.
There are four definitions of the extent of Essex, the widest being the ancient county. Next largest is the former postal county, followed by the ceremonial county with the smallest being the administrative county – the area administered by the County Council, which excludes the two unitary authorities of Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea and the areas administered by the Greater London Authority.
The ceremonial county occupies the eastern part of what was, during the Early Middle Ages, the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Essex. As well as rural areas, the county also includes London Stansted Airport, the new towns of Basildon and Harlow, Lakeside Shopping Centre, the port of Tilbury and the borough of Southend-on-Sea.