County Durham (, locally /ˈdɜrəm/, listen) is a ceremonial county in North East England. The county town is Durham, a cathedral city. During the Middle Ages, the county was an ecclesiastical centre, due largely to the presence of St Cuthbert’s shrine in Durham Cathedral, and the extensive powers granted to the Bishop of Durham as ruler of the County Palatine of Durham.
The historic county’s boundaries stretched between the rivers Tyne and Tees. Historic borders were shared with 4 counties: Northumberland to the north, now along with the county of Tyne and Wear; North Riding of Yorkshire to the south, now North Yorkshire; Westmorland and Cumberland, latter two to the west and both now Cumbria.
Within the Durham County Council area, the largest settlements are Durham, Peterlee and Newton Aycliffe. The largest ceremonial settlement is Darlington, closely followed by Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees. The North East Combined Authority region includes the towns of Gateshead, Jarrow, South Shields and the city of Sunderland. The ceremonial and combined authority overlapped roughly correspond to historic boundaries.