The first shires were created by the Anglo-Saxons in central and southern England. Shires were controlled by a royal official known as a "shire reeve" or sheriff. In modern English usage shires are sub-divided into districts.
Individually, or as a suffix in Scotland, the word is pronounced ʃaɪə(ɹ) (to rhyme with "fire"). As a suffix in an English or Welsh place name it is pronounced -ʃə(ɹ) (rhymes with "fir").
Shires in Great Britain
Shires in England
Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire.
Of these, all but Huntingdonshire and Yorkshire are also administrative counties (but with different boundaries). Huntingdonshire is now administered as a district of Cambridgeshire, and Yorkshire is split between East, North, South and West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cumbria and County Durham.
Shires in Wales
Shires in Scotland
Aberdeenshire, Ayrshire, Banffshire, Berwickshire, Clackmannanshire, Cromartyshire, Dumfriesshire, Dunbartonshire, Fifeshire, Inverness-shire, Kincardineshire, Kinross-shire, Kirkcudbrightshire, Lanarkshire, Morayshire, Nairnshire, Peeblesshire, Perthshire, Renfrewshire, Ross-shire, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire, Stirlingshire, Wigtownshire
Shires in Australia
Shire is the most common word in Australia for the smallest local government areas by population. The states of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia use shire for this unit. South Australia and Tasmania use district. A shire has the same powers as the next largest units, the town and city. In NSW, the expression 'The Shire' commonly refers to the Sutherland shire.