Portsmouth ( ( listen)) is a port city in Hampshire, England, with a total population of 205,400. The city of Portsmouth is nicknamed Pompey and is mainly built on Portsea Island, a flat, low-lying island measuring 24 square kilometres (9 sq mi) in area, just off the south-east coast of Hampshire. Uniquely, Portsmouth is the only island city in the United Kingdom.Portsmouth is located 70 miles (110 km) south-west of London and 19 miles (31 km) south-east of Southampton. With the surrounding towns of Gosport, Fareham, Havant and Waterlooville, Portsmouth forms the eastern half of the South Hampshire metropolitan area, which includes Southampton and Eastleigh in the western half.
Portsmouth's history can be traced back to Roman times. A significant naval port for centuries, Portsmouth has the world's oldest dry dock. In the sixteenth century, Portsmouth was England's first line of defence during the French invasion of 1545. By the early nineteenth century, the world's first mass production line was set up in Portsmouth Dockyard's Block Mills, making it the most industrialised site in the world and birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Portsmouth was also the most heavily fortified town in the world, and was considered "the world's greatest naval port" at the height of the British Empire throughout Pax Britannica. Defences known as the Palmerston Forts were built around Portsmouth in 1859 in anticipation of another invasion from continental Europe.
In 1926, the town of Portsmouth was officially elevated in status to a City. The motto "Heaven's Light Our Guide" was registered to the City of Portsmouth in 1929. During the Second World War, the city of Portsmouth was 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. In 1982, a large proportion of the task force dispatched to liberate the Falkland Islands deployed from the city's naval base. Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia left the city to oversee the transfer of Hong Kong in 1997, which marked for many the end of the empire. In 1997, Portsmouth became a Unitary Authority, with Portsmouth City Council gaining powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined, responsibilities previously held by Hampshire County Council.
Portsmouth is one of the world's best known ports. HMNB Portsmouth is considered to be the home of the Royal Navy and is home to two-thirds of the UK's surface fleet. The city is home to some famous ships, including HMS Warrior, the Tudor carrack Mary Rose and Horatio Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory (the world's oldest naval ship still in commission). The former HMS Vernon naval shore establishment has been redeveloped as a retail park known as Gunwharf Quays. 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. The waterfront and Portsmouth Harbour are dominated by the Spinnaker Tower, one of the United Kingdom's tallest structures at 560 feet (170 m). Nearby Southsea is a seaside resort with a pier amusement park and medieval castle.
Portsmouth F.C., the city's professional football club, play their home games at Fratton Park. The city has several mainline railway stations that connect to London Waterloo amongst other lines in southern England. Portsmouth International Port is a commercial cruise ship and ferry port for international destinations. The port is the second busiest in the United Kingdom after Dover, handling around three million passengers a year. The city formerly had its own airport, Portsmouth Airport, until its closure in 1973. The University of Portsmouth enrols 23,000 students and is ranked among the world's best modern universities. Portsmouth is also the birthplace of author Charles Dickens and engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
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