Norfolk is a low-lying county in East Anglia, England, United Kingdom. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and with Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast, including The Wash. The county capital is Norwich, located at . Norfolk is the fifth largest ceremonial county in England, with an area of 5,371 km² (2,074 sq mi).
Of the 34 non-metropolitan English counties, Norfolk is the seventh most populous, with a population of 832,400 (mid 2006). However, as a largely rural county it has a low population density, 155 people per square kilometre. Norfolk has about a 30th the population density of Central London, the tenth lowest density county in the country, with 38% of the county’s population living in the three major built up areas of Norwich (194,200), Great Yarmouth (66,400) and King's Lynn (40,700). This is reflected in Norfolk's economy which is dominated by agriculture and tourism. A key destination The Broads lie mostly within the county. A recent bid to have them declared a National Park failed, because it would have meant conservation being more important than navigation. Historical sites, such as the centre of Norwich, also contribute to tourism.
Situated on the east coast, Norfolk was vulnerable to invasions from Scandinavia and northern Europe, and forts were built to defend against the Angles and Saxons. By the 5th century the Angles, for whom East Anglia and England itself are named, had established control of the region and later became the "north folk" and the "south folk", hence, "Norfolk" and "Suffolk". Norfolk, and several adjacent areas, became the kingdom of East Anglia, later merging with Mercia and then Wessex. The influence of the Early English settlers can be seen in the many "thorpes", "tons" and "hams" of placenames. In the 9th century the region again came under attack, this time from Vikings who killed the king, Edmund the Martyr. In the centuries before the Norman Conquest the wetlands of the east of the county began to be converted to farmland, and settlements grew in these areas. Migration into East Anglia must have been high, as by the time of the Conquest and Domesday Book survey, it was one of the most densely populated parts of the British Isles.
During the high and late Middle Ages the county developed arable agriculture and woolen industries. The economy was in decline by the time of the Black Death, which dramatically reduced the population in 1349, suffice to say that the current population has yet to equal the population from this time. By the 16th century Norwich had grown to become the second largest city in England, but in 1665 the Great Plague of London again killed around one third of the population. During the English Civil War Norfolk was largely Parliamentarian. The economy and agriculture of the region declined somewhat, and during the industrial revolution Norfolk developed little industry and was a late addition to the railway network.
In the 20th century the county developed a role in aviation. The first development in airfields came with the First World War; there was then a massive expansion during the Second World War with the growth of the Royal Air Force and the influx of the American USAAF 8th Air Force which operated from many Norfolk Airfields. During the Second World War agriculture rapidly intensified, and has remained very intensive since with the establishment of large fields for cereal and oil seed rape growing. Norfolk's low-lying land and easily eroded cliffs, many of which are chalk and clay, make it vulnerable to the sea, the most recent major event being the North Sea flood of 1953.
The low-lying section of coast between Kelling and Lowestoft Ness is currently managed by the Environment Agency to protect the Broads from sea flooding. Management policy for the North Norfolk coastline is described in the North Norfolk Shoreline Management Plan which was published in 2006 but has yet to be accepted by the local authorities. The Shoreline Management Plan states that the stretch of coast will be protected for at least another 50 years, but that in the face of sea level rise and post-glacial lowering of land levels in the South East, there is an urgent need for further research to inform future management decisions, including the possibility that the sea defences may have to be realigned to a more sustainable position. Natural England have contributed some research into the impacts on the environment of various realignment options. The draft report of their research was leaked to the press, who created great anxiety by reporting that Natural England plan to abandon a large section of the Norfolk Broads, villages and farmland face to the sea to save the rest of the Norfolk coastline from the impact of climate change.
In 1998 Norfolk had a Gross Domestic Product of £9,319 million, making it 1.5% of England's economy and 1.25% of the United Kingdom's economy. The GDP per head was £11,825, compared to £13,635 for East Anglia, £12,845 for England and £12,438 for the United Kingdom. In 1999-2000 the county has an unemployment rate of 5.6%, compared to 5.8% for England and 6.0% for the UK.
Much of Norfolk's flat and fertile land has been drained and converted to arable land. Chief arable crops are sugar beet, wheat, barley (for brewing) and oil seed rape. Over 20% of employment in the county is in the agriculture and food industries. Agribusiness has been successful in the county, and farming is very intensive with large fields, and many formerly family-run farms have been agglomerated into large farms which are highly efficient but criticised for reducing biodiversity, employment and damaging the community.
Well-known companies in Norfolk are Norwich Union, Colman's and Bernard Matthews. The Construction Industry Training Board is based on the former airfield of RAF Bircham Newton. The BBC East region is centred on Norwich (though covers as far west as Milton Keynes).
To help local industry in Norwich, Norfolk, the local council offers a wireless service.
In 2007 the Department for Communities and Local Government referred Norwich City Council's proposal to become a new unitary authority to the Boundary Committee. The Boundary Committee consulted local bodies and reported against the proposal, so Norfolk's local government structure remains unchanged.
However, consultation on the Committee's 2008 proposals for Norfolk closed on September 26th, 2008, with final recommendations to Government by 31st December, 2008. Thereafter,a decision will be made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Until then, the future organisation of the County remains uncertain.
Norfolk County Council is Conservative-controlled and led by Daniel Cox. There are 46 Conservative councillors, 22 Labour councillors, 14 Liberal Democrat councillors and two Green councillors. There was 63% turnout at the most recent local election.
In the House of Commons, Norfolk is represented by four Conservative Members of Parliament, three Labour MPs and one Liberal Democrat. Labour represent the more urban areas of Norwich and Great Yarmouth. The former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, represents Norwich South.
|Parliamentary||County Council |
|Party||Votes||Votes %||Seats||Seats %||Party||Votes||Votes %||Seats||Seats %|
|Others ||19371||5%||0||0%||Liberal Democrat||113048||28%||14||17%|
 Includes Town Close ward by-election held 26 May 2005, electors in Town Close didn't vote for a County Councilor on 5 May 2005 due to the death of one of the candidates between close of nominations and polling day.
 UKIP, Green, LCA, Independents, Others
 UKIP, LCA, Independents, Others
Norfolk is one the few counties in England that does not have a motorway. The A11 connects Norfolk to Cambridge and London and the A47 runs west to the East Midlands. The Great Eastern Main Line is a major railway from London Liverpool Street Station to Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. The only major airport in the county is Norwich International Airport, which offers flights within Europe, including a link to Amsterdam which offers onward flights throughout the world.
More cutting, perhaps, was the formerly-used pejorative medical term "Normal for Norfolk", now discredited, the use of which is banned by the profession.
Norfolk is a popular tourist destination; major attractions include beaches, the Broads, and the city of Norwich. The Queen's residence of Sandringham provides an all year round tourist attraction. Rural parts of the county, notably the area around Burnham Market, are also popular locations for city dwellers to purchase weekend homes. Arthur Conan Doyle first conceived the idea for The Hound Of The Baskervilles whilst holidaying in Cromer with Bertram Fletcher Robinson after hearing local folklore tales regarding the mysterious hound known as Black Shuck.