Portsmouth is a unique island city and one of only two in Europe and, like Venice, has had a pivotal role in imperial maritime history.
Portsmouth city is located on Portsea island which is one of an arc of low lying islands along the Solent coast. Portsmouth, Langstone and Chichester harbours are located between the inner archipelago while the Isle of Wight is located across the Solent to the south. The South Downs, located by Portsdown hill, to the north frame this coastal landscape.
The city retains its famous Naval base (the largest in the UK), alongside a ferry terminal and commercial port. Along with a wealth of historic military assets it has been the birthplace of a number of well know British cultural figures and has long played a pivotal role in UK commercial, political and military history.
The Solent and the adjoining harbours have rich intertidal ecologies, are popular for water-sports and recreational boating, as well as being significant habitats for migratory birds.