The West Midlands is landlocked Metropolitan County in western central England. Since 1986 it has had no county council. Some confusion is caused by the use of the same name for the much larger official West Midlands Region of England and for the even wider geographic zone of the English West Midlands.
It has a population of around 2,552,000 and covers 89,941 hectares or 899.4 km² (222,250 acres or 332 mi²). Birmingham, Wolverhampton and the Black country together form one of the largest urban conurbations in England outside London with a combined population of around 2.25 million.
However the West Midlands is not entirely urban, a stretch of green belt land roughly 15 miles (24 km) across, exists between the Birmingham conurbation and Coventry, which retains a strongly rural character.
The county was created in 1974, with most of the area previously being county boroughs in their own right. Birmingham and Coventry were traditionally parts of Warwickshire; Wolverhampton and most of the the Black Country were traditionally parts of Staffordshire and some of the Black Country was in Worcestershire.
It was originally run by the "West Midlands County Council" but this was broken up in 1986 and most of the powers given to metropolitan district councils. Some functions such as emergency services and public transport are still run jointly on a county-wide basis, and the county still is still a Ceremonial County with a Lord-Lieutenant.
The seven metropolitan boroughs which currently administer the West Midlands area are:
- Balsall Common
- Brierley Hill
- Marston Green
- Rowley Regis
- Sutton Coldfield
- West Bromwich
- Aston Hall, Birmingham
- Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
- Black Country Living Museum
- Coventry Cathedral
- Dudley Castle
- Museum of British Road Transport
- Netherton tunnel
- Perrot's Folly
- Sarehole Mill