Cumbria ( /ˈkʌmbriə/, locally ) is a non-metropolitan county in North West England. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local authority, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. Cumbria's largest settlement and county town is Carlisle and the only other major urban area is Barrow-in-Furness on the south-western tip of the county which has a population just slightly smaller than Carlisle. The county of Cumbria consists of six districts, and in 2008 had a population of just under half a million. Cumbria is one of the most sparsely populated counties in the United Kingdom, with 73.4 people per km2 (190/sq mi). In comparison, the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness, in the south, has a population density over twelve times this at 921/km2 (2,385.3/sq mi).
Cumbria, the third largest ceremonial county in England by area, is bounded to the north by the Scottish council areas of Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the southeast by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland.
Cumbria is predominantly rural and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park, considered one of England's most outstanding areas of natural beauty, serving as inspiration for artists, writers, and musicians. Much of Cumbria is mountainous, and it contains every peak in England over 900 metres (3,000 ft) above sea level, with Scafell Pike at 978 metres (3,209 ft) being the highest point of England. An upland, coastal, and rural area, Cumbria's history is characterised by invasions, migration, and settlement, as well as battles and skirmishes between the English and Scottish. Historic sites in Cumbria include Carlisle Castle, Furness Abbey, and Hadrian's Wall.