North Yorkshire, county (2011 pop. 598,376), 3,209 sq mi (8,313 sq km), N England. The county comprises the districts of Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, and Selby. York, a former district, is now independent of the county. The county seat is Northallerton. North Yorkshire consists of two upland areas: the Pennines and deep valleys engulf the western regions, while in the east are limestone and sandstone. The above terrain is separated by the Vale of York, a lower land consisting of clay soil. The economy is mainly agricultural. Sheep are raised on the upland hills. There is also some light industry, such as food processing and light engineering.
The area was occupied by the Roman military until the 7th cent. York flourished under the Anglians in the 8th cent. until invasions led to occupation by Scandanavians. William I the Conqueror destroyed many settlements there. During the Middle Ages the county was governed by wealthy landowners. It was later ravaged during the 15th cent. (see Roses, Wars of the) and in the mid-17th-century English civil war. Many castle ruins remain. The Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors national parks located within the county attract a growing number of tourists.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.