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The maritime county of Cheshire is bounded on the north by the Mersey River and Lancashire, northeast by Yorkshire, east by Derbyshire, south by Staffordshire and Shropshire, west by Denbighshire and on the northeast by Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea.

Surface of the shire is for the most part level, rising only toward the NE borders of Derby and Stafford and in the west into the Peckforton Hills. Delamere Forest is near the northern border. The center of the shire is known as the "Vale Royal," a name sometimes applied to the entire county, due to the abbey founded by Edward I on the banks of the Weaver.

Cheshire's extensive canal system has been of major economic importance. There are numerous small lakes in the eastern half. New Brighton and Hoylake are popular seaside resorts.

Since the reign of Henry III, the title Earl of Chester has usually been borne by the Prince of Wales.