The Sheffield Urban Area is the ninth most occupied conurbation in the UK, and dominates the western half of South Yorkshire with over half of the county's population living within it.
As a ceremonial county, South Yorkshire has a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff. In 1986 the South Yorkshire County Council was abolished, making the districts essentially unitary authority areas; however, the metropolitan county, which is some 1,552 square kilometres (599 sq mi), continues to exist in law and as a geographic point of reference.
South Yorkshire is an amalgamation of 32 former local government districts from the former administrative counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, the West Riding of Yorkshire, and four independent county boroughs.
Although modern South Yorkshire was only formed in 1974 it has a history of settlements dating back hundreds of years. Archaeologists have discovered rock art and artefacts in caves at Creswell Crags dating back to the Palaeolithic period, at least 12,800 years ago. Other prehistoric remains found consist of a Mesolithic "house"- a circle of stones in the form of a hut-base dating to around 8000 BC, found at Deepcar, in the northern part of Sheffield.
Mining and steel manufacturing have been South Yorkshire's main industries. The coal mining industry was predominantly located in the north and east of South Yorkshire. Iron ore was also mined in the region. The rivers running off the Pennines to the west of the county supported the steel industry that is concentrated in the city of Sheffield. The proximity of the iron and coal also made this an ideal place for steel manufacture.
Major rivers which cross South Yorkshire are the Dearne, Rother and Don. To the east, in the Doncaster area, the landscape becomes flatter as the eastward dipping carboniferous rocks of the coalfield are overlain by the lacustrine deposits of the Humberhead Levels. As South Yorkshire is situated outside the confines of the last glaciation there is very little evidence of glaciation within the county.
South Yorkshire has been targeted for funding via the European Regional Development Fund due to its status as one of Western Europe’s least prosperous regions. Measured in Great British Pounds, this is a chart of trend of regional gross value added to South Yorkshire at current basic prices.