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A summary of the physical geography of our City and County.

We cover an area of 379.7 square kilometres (146.6 square miles), almost 2% of the land area of Wales.

Our county extends from Rhossili Down at the western edge of the Gower Peninsula to Kilvey Hill, Crymlyn Bog and the slopes of the Drummau Mountain on the eastern border with Neath Port Talbot; and from Mumbles Head and the sweep of Swansea Bay in the south to the ridge of Mynydd y Gwair overlooking the Amman Valley in the north.

Some two-thirds of our county's boundary is with the sea - the Burry Inlet, Bristol Channel and Swansea Bay. The River Loughor forms the north-west boundary with Carmarthenshire while the boundary to the north and east is largely defined by hill and valley features.

The main area of upland lies in the north of the county making up most of the community of Mawr. The highest point at 374 metres (1215 feet) occurs at Penlle'r Castell on the county's northern border. Areas of high land up to 185 metres (600 feet) range across the south of the county and form the hills of Kilvey, Townhill and Llwynmawr, separating the centre of Swansea from its northern suburbs. Further west, a ridge of high land, Cefn Bryn, forms the spine of Gower with Rhossili and Hardings Downs and Llanmadoc Hill forming major features over 600 feet high.

The chief river is the Tawe which enters the county at Clydach and flows through Morriston and the Lower Swansea Valley, before emerging to the east of the city centre and entering Swansea Bay over the barrage which separates the Docks and the Maritime Quarter. There are few other rivers of significant size, apart from the River Loughor and its tributaries - the Lliw and Llan in the north-west of the county.

Our City and County can be broadly divided into four physical areas: the open moorlands of the Lliw Uplands in the north; the rural Gower Peninsula in the west, containing a number of rural villages, contrasting coasts and the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB); the suburban area stretching from the edge of Swansea towards settlements in the west and around the M4 corridor; and the coastal strip around Swansea Bay, no more than two miles in width, which includes the city centre and adjacent district centres.

The urban area of the county is chiefly focused on Swansea and radiates to the west and north of the city centre - around Swansea Bay to Mumbles; over Townhill to Cwmbwrla, Treboeth, Fforestfach and Penlan; through Uplands, Sketty, Killay and Dunvant; along the Swansea Valley communities of Hafod, Landore, Plasmarl, Morriston to Clydach; and on the east side of the River from St. Thomas to Bonymaen, Llansamlet and Birchgrove.

The second urban focus centres on the small towns of Gorseinon and Loughor in the north-west of the county, together with the nearby communities of Gowerton, Penllergaer, Llangyfelach and Pontarddulais. 

Official rural-urban classification statistics suggest that approximately 69.5% of the county's land area is rural and 30.5% urban, although 88% of Swansea residents live in areas classified as urban and only 12% in rural areas (2011 Census estimates).

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