As with the three counties that border it-North Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, and Northumberland-County Durham has a broad heritage of farming and mining. In more recent times the county has undergone much regeneration and fashions itself as a new tourist destination, while still managing to retain some of its heavy railway industry down in the southwest of the county.
One of the notable findings of the 2001 UK census was that County Durham has the highest proportion of residents in England, 13.2%, who rate their health as not good. Whether this is Northern pessimism or indicative of something more severe is an open question
Though all six counties in Northern Ireland are prefixed by the word 'County', if 'County Durham' sounds jarring this is probably because it is the only county in England to follow this trend.