The West Country is a loosely defined area of south-western England. The term usually encompasses the historic counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, and often the counties of Bristol, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, in the South West region. The region is host to distinctive regional dialects and accents. Some definitions also include Herefordshire.
Apart from the Bristol Channel and English Channel, the West Country's boundaries are not precisely defined and as a consequence different definitions are used. Some definitions are roughly synonymous with South West England, while others use it more specifically to refer to just the southwestern part, or in a wider sense to include areas such as Herefordshire (in the West Midlands region).
The term is also used to refer to sports matches between such cities as Bristol and Bath or Gloucester and Bath. West Country Carnival events take place in Somerset, Devon, Wiltshire and Dorset. ITV Westcountry is an ITV franchise covering Devon, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and areas of Somerset and Dorset. Local news and sport website "This is the Westcountry", part of the Newsquest group, similarly covers Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.
"West Country Lamb" and "West Country Beef" have EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status which can be applied only to lamb and beef products from animals born and reared in Devon, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset or Gloucestershire. "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar" is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) that can be applied to Cheddar cheese made in the traditional way only in the four counties of Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport-supported website "Icons of England" defines the West Country as including Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire, and the former Avon area, but excluding Gloucestershire (defined as part of the "West Midlands") and Dorset (in "South England").
The "West Country" edition of the 2005 BBC TV series Seven Natural Wonders featured "wonders" in Wiltshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Herefordshire (Symonds Yat), but not those in Devon or Cornwall which were the subject of a separate programme on the "South West", nor Dorset which was covered in a programme on "The South".
The "West Country Clothing District" was an area that made woollen cloth, but only part of the region described above. It covered east Somerset and parts of the counties of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and at some periods extended into Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The clothing district around Tiverton and Exeter in Devon and west Somerset tended to make different kinds of cloth and is best regarded as distinct.
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