Kent /ˈkɛnt/ is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north west, Surrey to the west, East Sussex to the south west, and across the Thames Estuary is the county of Essex. The county town is Maidstone.
Canterbury Cathedral in Kent has been the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England, since the conversion of England to Christianity by Saint Augustine in the 6th century.
Between London and the Strait of Dover, which separates it from mainland Europe, Kent has seen both diplomacy and conflict, ranging from the Leeds Castle peace talks of 1978 and 2004 to the Battle of Britain in World War II.
England relied on the county's ports to provide warships through much of its history; the Cinque Ports in the 12th–14th centuries and Chatham Dockyard in the 16th–20th centuries were of particular importance. France can be seen clearly in fine weather from Folkestone and the White Cliffs of Dover. Hills in the form of the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge span the length of the county and in the series of valleys in between and to the south are most of the county's 26 castles.
Because of its relative abundance of fruit-growing and hop gardens, Kent is known as "The Garden of England". The title was defended in 2006 when a survey of beautiful counties by the UKTV Style Gardens channel put Kent in fifth place, behind North Yorkshire, Devon, Derbyshire and Gloucestershire. Haulage, logistics and tourism are major industries throughout the county; major industries in north-west Kent include aggregate building materials, printing and scientific research. Coal mining has also played its part in Kent's industrial heritage. Large parts of Kent are within the London commuter belt. Twenty-eight per cent of the county forms part of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the North Downs and The Weald.
^ Kent loses its Garden of England title to North Yorkshire. The Guardian 1 June 2006
^ Garden of England title defended, BBC. 1 June 2006
^ "Garden of England title defended". BBC. 2006-06-01. Retrieved 2015-12-11.