The ceremonial county of Lincolnshire is composed of the non-metropolitan county of Lincolnshire and the area covered by the unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. Therefore, part of the ceremonial county is in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England, and most is in the East Midlands region. The county is the second-largest of the English ceremonial counties and one that is predominantly agricultural in land use. The county is fourth largest of the two-tier counties, as the unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire are not included. The county can be broken down into a number of geographical sub-regions including: the rolling chalk hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds. In the south east are the Lincolnshire Fens (south-east Lincolnshire), the Carrs (similar to the Fens but in north Lincolnshire), the industrial Humber Estuary and North Sea coast around Grimsby and Scunthorpe, and in the south west of the county, the Kesteven Uplands, comprising rolling limestone hills in the district of South Kesteven.
Lincolnshire derived from the merging of the territory of the ancient Kingdom of Lindsey with that controlled by the Danelaw borough of Stamford. For some time the entire county was called "Lindsey", and it is recorded as such in the 11th-century Domesday Book. Later, the name Lindsey was applied to the northern core, around Lincoln, and this emerged as one of the three Parts of Lincolnshire, along with the Parts of Holland in the south east and the Parts of Kesteven in the south west, which each had separate Quarter Sessions as their county administrations.
In 1888 when county councils were set up, Lindsey, Holland and Kesteven each received separate ones. These survived until 1974, when Holland, Kesteven, and most of Lindsey were unified into Lincolnshire. The northern part of Lindsey, including Scunthorpe Municipal Borough and Grimsby County Borough, was incorporated into the newly formed non-metropolitan county of Humberside, along with most of the East Riding of Yorkshire.
A local government reform in 1996 abolished Humberside, and the land south of the Humber was allocated to the unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. These two areas became part of Lincolnshire for ceremonial purposes such as the Lord-Lieutenancy, but are not covered by the Lincolnshire police and are in the Yorkshire and the Humber region.