Counties have been used in the UK for centuries as method of
dividing geographical locations. As an area for organizing local
government they have been in use since around the 5th century. Over
those centuries the defining boundaries, their use for government and
the counties themselves have seen many changes. In modern times there
are several layers of local government and while many counties still
represent an actual geographical boundary for such purpose some counties
have no actual purpose other than as a defined geographical location.
Where the counties still exist as local government the actual range of
powers has also changes over the years. Unitary councils in many cities
have taken over some of the local governing that was once the realm of
the local County. Some areas now operate under a two-tier of Counties
and Districts or Boroughs.
In 1994 England was divided into 9 regions which sit above counties as a level of local government. However in reality they have very little power apart the smallest, in terms of actual geographical size,
which is London.
When talking of counties there are different types that may be referred to.
Historical and ancient Counties being those used in centuries past for local government but also for defining areas for other purposes.
Administrative councils were purely for administrating local government and were brought in under the Local Government Act 1888.
These were replaced by Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties in 1974. Ceremonial counties were brought in during the 1990's. These are defined as areas with an appointed Lord Lieutenant ( a person who represents the monarchy).