Surrey, county (1991 pop. 997,000), 653 sq mi (1,691 sq km), SE England. The county seat is Guildford. Administratively, the county is divided into the districts of Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Waverley, and Woking. The North Downs cross the county from east to west. To the north the land slopes gently downward to the Thames, into which flow the Wey and the Mole, Surrey's principal streams. The southern slopes of the Downs are more rugged. Surrey is one of the "Home Counties" around London; attractive woodland areas lie to the south.
About one quarter of the total area is devoted to agriculture. There is dairy farming, market gardening, and wheat and oat cultivation. Manufactures include radio and radar equipment and aircraft. Epsom and Ewell is known for its horse racing, and Kew for the Royal Botanic Gardens (popularly known as Kew Gardens). On Runnymede, King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. In Anglo-Saxon times, Surrey was variously under the dominion of Mercia and Wessex and was overrun in the 9th cent. by the Danes. In 1974, Surrey was reorganized as a nonmetropolitan county; a small area in the southeast was assigned to the nonmetropolitan county of West Sussex.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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