English county stretching from the Cumberland Mountains in the N. to the Mersey in the S. along the shores of the Irish Sea; is the wealthiest and most populous county, and the indentations of the coast-line adapt it to be the chief outlet westward for English trade, more than a third of England's foreign commerce passing through its ports. The country is mostly low, with spurs of the Yorkshire hills; it is rich in minerals, chiefly coal and iron; its industrial enterprise is enormous; nearly half of the cotton manufacture of the world is carried on in its towns, besides woollen and silk manufacture, the making of engineer's tools, boots and shoes. The soil is a fertile loam, under corn and green crops and old pasture. Lancaster is the county town, but the largest towns are Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, and Blackburn. The northern portion, detached by Morecambe Bay, is known as Furness, belongs really to the Lake District, and has Barrow-in-Furness, with its large shipbuilding concerns, for its chief town. Lancashire has long been an influential political centre.