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Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is east of Dorchester, Dorset, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The Borough of Poole was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council. The town had a population of 138,288 according to the United Kingdom Census 2001, making it the second largest settlement in Dorset.
Human settlement in the area dates back to before the Iron Age. The earliest recorded use of the town's name was in the 12th century when the town began to emerge as an important port, prospering with the introduction of the Wool. In later centuries the town had important trade links with North America and at its peak in the 18th century it was one of the busiest ports in Britain. During the Second World War the town was one of the main departing points for the D-Day landings of the Normandy Landings.
Poole is a Tourism resort, attracting visitors with its large Poole Harbour, history, the Poole Arts Centre and Blue Flag beaches. The town has a busy commercial port with English Channel freight and passenger ferry services. The headquarters of the RNLI are located in Poole, and the Royal Marines have a base in the town's harbour. Despite their names, Poole is the home of The Arts University College at Bournemouth, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and a significant part of Bournemouth University.