- North Somerset
unitary authority, geographic and historic county of Somerset, southwestern England. It lies along the Bristol Channel west of the city of Bristol. The unitary authority is a low-lying area of high limestone plateaus descending from 500 feet (150 metres) toward the west into marshlands and mud flats at the Bristol Channel. A variety of crops and livestock (especially cereals and beef and dairy cattle) are raised in the fertile eastern soils. The marshlands are primarily used for pasture. The town (“parish”) of Long Ashton just southwest of Bristol is a centre for cider production. Weston-super-Mare (the administrative centre), Clevedon, and Portishead developed in the 19th century as coastal resorts. Weston-super-Mare has fine beaches and elaborate resort and entertainment facilities. The greatest tidal range in the British Isles at mean spring tide—more than 36 feet (11 metres)—occurs near Portishead. Dock facilities at Portishead were expanded in the late 1970s. Rare plants (including the wild peony) are protected on the Bristol Channel islets of Flat Holm and Steep Holm. Area 144 square miles (372 square km). Pop. (2005 est.) 195,100.
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