What's a county?
Britain is split up into counties. The word county describes an area with its own local government. County councils are elected to run things, such as education, housing, town planning and rubbish disposal. They look after roads, libraries and swimming pools.
Many counties, like Yorkshire, Berkshire and Lancashire, contain the word shire, which is an old word for county. In writing, it is usual to abbreviate names of counties containing the word shire: Lancashire becomes Lancs; Wiltshire becomes Wilts; South Yorkshire becomes S. Yorks.
Michael Vaughan-Rees, Geraldine Sweeney, Picot Cassidy: In Britain; Cornelsen Verlag, 2000, page 4