The largest city in Staffordshire is Stoke-on-Trent, which is administered separately from the rest of the county as an independent unitary authority. Lichfield also has city status, although this is a considerably smaller cathedral city. Major towns include Stafford (the county town), Burton upon Trent, Cannock, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Leek, and Tamworth. Smaller towns include Stone, Uttoxeter, Rugeley, Eccleshall, Penkridge and large villages Wombourne, Kinver, Tutbury and Stretton. Cannock Chase AONB is within the county as well as parts of the National Forest and the Peak District national park.
Major towns and cities such as Wolverhampton, Walsall, West Bromwich, and Smethwick are located within the historic county boundaries of Staffordshire, though since 1974 have been part of the West Midlands county.
Apart from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire is divided into the districts of Cannock Chase, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Newcastle-under-Lyme, South Staffordshire, Stafford, Staffordshire Moorlands, and Tamworth.
The historic boundaries of Staffordshire cover much of what is now the metropolitan county of West Midlands. An administrative county of Staffordshire was set up in 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888 covering the county except the county boroughs of Wolverhampton, Walsall, and West Bromwich in the south (the area known as the Black Country), and Hanley in the north. The Act also saw the towns of Tamworth (partly in Warwickshire) and Burton upon Trent (partly in Derbyshire) united entirely in Staffordshire.