More than 8 million people – a sixth of England’s population – live within 18 miles of the county border, mainly in the large cities of Sheffield, Manchester and Nottingham.
Derbyshire is a place of geographical and social contrasts. It has a number of heavily built-up areas and large, sparsely populated rural areas.
Chesterfield is our largest town and is home to 104,000 people. Eight other main towns have populations of over 20,000.
A large part of the north and west of the county is very rural, much of it in the Peak District National Park. Twenty-seven per cent of our population live in rural areas.
Chesterfield and the other towns have their roots in traditional industries with quarrying in the north west, former coal mining in the north east and remnants of engineering and textile industries scattered across the county.
Our small (4%) ethnic minority population (England 20%) is mainly concentrated in the districts of Chesterfield, Erewash and South Derbyshire. The largest ethnic group is 'Other White' (that is not 'White British', Irish or Gypsy or Irish Traveller), which makes up 1% of the total population of Derbyshire.
Derbyshire has an increasing elderly population, with our pensioners currently making up 19% of the total (English average 16%).
Unemployment in Derbyshire is well below the national average. But there are hotspots in parts of Chesterfield and Erewash, where the rate is nearly twice the national average.
Derbyshire has a high reliance upon the manufacturing sector. It accounts for almost a fifth of all employment (19%), over twice the national rate of 8%. Recent growth and employment levels in the service sector means that whilst these sectors were once underrepresented, Derbyshire is now comparable with the national average, 25% and 26% respectively.
There are 18 areas in Derbyshire which rank amongst the 10% most deprived areas in England. The average weekly pay is much lower for workers in Derbyshire than England (£516:544 respectively).
The M1 motorway and railway links provide relatively good north to south communications in the east of the county. But access is more difficult in the isolated rural areas, compounded by 25% of the county being over 300m above sea level.