Essex is a county located northeast of London, part of the East of England region. Because of its proximity to London and the economic magnetism which that city exerts, many of Essex's settlements function as dormitory towns or villages where London workers raise their families. In 1991 Essex had a population of 1,528,600.
In 2001 Essex had a population of 1,310,900, the apparent decline from 1,528,600 in 1991 being explained entirely by the separation of the districts of Southend-on-Sea (160,300) and Thurrock (143,000) as unitary authority areas.
Until 1965 the administrative county included also the present-day London boroughs of Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Newham (except for the small enclave of North Woolwich, formerly in Kent).
The Lakeside shopping centre at Thurrock was one of England's first out-of-town shopping centres; it remains popular despite congestion on the nearby M25 motorway and competition from newer, more glamorous destinations.
Essex also contains Stansted Airport and several smaller aerodromes that have evolved from bomber or fighter bases constructed during the Second World War.
See also: Earl of Essex