The region is known for its countryside, which includes the North Downs and the Chiltern Hills as well as two national parks: the New Forest and the South Downs.

The River Thames flows through the region and its basin is known as the Thames Valley.

Until 1999, there was a south east Standard Statistical Region, which also included the counties of Bedfordshire, Greater London, Essex and Hertfordshire.

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It is the third largest region of England, with an area of 19,096 kmĀ² (7,373 sq mi), and is also the most populous with a total population of over eight and a half million (2011).

The headquarters for the region's governmental bodies are in Guildford, and the region contains seven cities: Brighton and Hove, Canterbury, Chichester, Oxford, Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester, though other major settlements include Reading and Milton Keynes.

Its proximity to London and connections to several national motorways have led to south east England becoming an economic hub, with the largest economy in the country outside the capital.

It is the location of Gatwick Airport, the UK's second-busiest airport, and its coastline along the English Channel provides numerous ferry crossings to mainland Europe.

South east England is host to various sporting events, including the annual Henley Royal Regatta, Royal Ascot and The Derby, and sporting venues include Wentworth Golf Club and Brands Hatch.

Some of the events of the 2012 Summer Olympics were held in the south east, including the rowing at Eton Dorney and part of the cycling road race in the Surrey Hills. The dominant influence on the region's economy is neighbouring London.

It is also the location for a number of internationally known places of interest, such as HMS Victory in Portsmouth, Cliveden in Buckinghamshire, Thorpe Park and RHS Wisley in Surrey, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, Windsor Castle in Berkshire, Leeds Castle, the White Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, Brighton Pier and Hammerwood Park in East Sussex, and Wakehurst Place in West Sussex.

The region has many universities; the University of Oxford is ranked among the best in the world.

The area also has some seats where there is strong support for other parties, for example, Slough and Oxford for Labour and Brighton Pavilion which is held by the Green Party.