Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is 32 kilometres (20 mi) east of Dorchester, 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 2001 census, making it the second largest settlement in Dorset. Together with Bournemouth and Christchurch, the town forms the South East Dorset conurbation with a total population of over 400,000.