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For information on the fictional Shire of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, see Shire (Middle-earth)

Shires in today's common usage are the non-metropolitan counties of England outside London. The term is often used by political commentators to describe the areas of England outside London and the metropolitan counties created for the principal conurbations in 1974.

Some Welsh and Scottish county names also carried the suffix -shire until the 1975 reorganisation, though they are generally not among those spoken of collectively as "the shires". Since the 1999 re-organisation this has once again become true.

Shires in England include:

Not all Scottish counties were shires. However immediately before 1975 the Scottish shires were:

The suffix -shire was also included in the name of some former areas subsequently incorporated into administrative counties, for instance Richmondshire and Cravenshire in what is now North Yorkshire, and Bedlingtonshire, Norhamshire and Islandshire, detached parts of County Durham until their incorporation in Northumberland. The term shire thus predates the creation of England's counties, referring originally to a more local jurisdiction.

Shire is also the name for a breed of large draft horse.

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