For local government, England is divided into areas with a two-tier structure of counties and districts governed by two local authorities, and unitary authority areas where there is one local authority.
The arrangement varies in different parts of the country and there are four main configurations: non-metropolitan two-tier 'shire' areas, six metropolitan counties, unitary authorities, and Greater London.
Through incremental change, culminating in 2000, the upper-tier authority is the Greater London Authority, comprising an elected Mayor of London and the London Assembly.
Greater London is divided into 32 London boroughs, also dating from 1965, each governed by a London borough council.
In some areas, counties and districts form a two-tier administrative structure, while in others they are combined under a unitary authority. The current system is the result of incremental reform which has its origins in legislation enacted in 19.
For instance, the unitary authority of Plymouth is traditionally considered part of County Devon, though politically it is not part of the county.
Ceremonial counties are often different from the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties used for local government as they include the areas covered by unitary authorities.
They are taken into consideration when drawing up Parliamentary constituency boundaries.
Overall, England is divided into nine regions and 48 ceremonial counties, although these have only a limited role in public policy.
For the purposes of local government, the country is divided into counties, districts and parishes.