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A maritime county in northwest England, Cumberland is bounded on the north by the Solway Firth and Scotland, on the east by Northumberland, on the southeast by Durham, on the south by Westmorland and Lancashire and on the west by the Irish Sea. The area is 15square miles.

The surface of the shire is mountainous in the southwestern and eastern sections and low in the north, which is called the Vale of Carlisle. The highest points of the shire are the Scafell and Skiddaw peaks, both over 3000 feet. The chief rivers are the Caldew, Liddle, Esk, Line, Petterill, Irthing, Line, Eden, Ehen, and Derwent. There are numerous picturesque lakes such as Derwentwater, Ullswater, and Buttermere.

When the Romans occupied the area in 80 AD, they built great walls along the Solway Firth, notably Hadrian's Wall, finished in 121.

Carlisle is the county seat. Other important towns include Keswick and Whitehaven.