Kent

South East England

Kent Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north west, Surrey to the west, East Sussex to the south west, and across the Thames Estuary is the county of Essex. The county town is Maidstone. With a population of over 1.4 million, Kent is the second most populous county in the South East region after Hampshire.

Canterbury Cathedral in Kent has been the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England, since the conversion of England to Christianity by Saint Augustine in the 6th century. Between London and the Strait of Dover, which separates it from mainland Europe, Kent has seen both diplomacy and conflict, ranging from the Leeds Castle peace talks of 1978 and 2004 to the Battle of Britain in World War II.

The major geographical features of the county are determined by a series of ridges and valleys running east-west across the county. These are the results of erosion of the Wealden dome, a dome across Kent and Sussex created by alpine movements 10–20 million years ago. This dome consists of an upper layer of chalk above successive layers of Upper Greensand, Gault Clay, Lower Greensand, Weald Clay, and Wealden sandstone. The ridges and valleys formed when the exposed clay eroded faster than the exposed chalk, greensand, or sandstone.

Sevenoaks, Maidstone, Ashford, and Folkestone are built on greensand, while Ditton, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells are built on sandstone. Dartford, Gravesend, the Medway towns, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Canterbury, Deal, and Dover are built on chalk. The easterly section of the Wealden dome has been eroded away by the sea, and cliffs such as the White Cliffs of Dover are present where a chalk ridge known as the North Downs meets the coast. Spanning Dover and Westerham is the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The coastline of Kent is continuously changing, due to tectonic uplift and coastal erosion. Until about 960, the Isle of Thanet was an island, separated by the Wantsum channel, formed around a deposit of chalk; over time, the channels silted up with alluvium. Similarly Romney Marsh and Dungeness have been formed by accumulation of alluvium.