Counties have been used for geographical, political and administrative separation as units of local governments in the UK since the Middle Ages. Known in many parts of the British Isles other than England as "shires" until the 17th century, and as shires from the 17th century in Scotland, the name county comes from the title of its ruler - traditionally a count. Nowadays selected officials don’t need to have a noble title to rule, but the traditional name remained in place.
Despite multiple reforms and attempts to standardise what a county is and what it means, even today the system is overly complex and full of exceptions. There are 2 basic kinds of counties. First, there are so-called ceremonial counties, 48 in England in total. These represent geographical and cultural boundaries. These counties don’t fulfil any administrative role.
Then, there are 83 metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties. These areas serve local governments and fulfil a purely administrative and formal role. Both kinds of counties often have the same name, though usually their borders differ from each other. Below you’ll find detailed information about businesses in the UK, by county.