The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is one of our closest neighbor galaxies at a distance of ~ 50 kpc. The Sagitarrius dwarf is closer at ~ 24 kpc, but its contrast with respect to the Milky Way foreground stars is so low that it was discovered only about a decade ago. The LMC is therefore the closest, big, easily observable galaxy from our vantage point in the Milky Way. As such, it has become a benchmark for studies on various topics. It is of fundamental importance for studies of stellar populations and the interstellar medium (ISM), it is being used to study the presence of dark objects in the Galactic Halo through microlensing (e.g., Alcock et al. 2000a), and it plays a key role in determinations of the cosmological distance scale (e.g., Freedman et al. 2001). For all these applications it is important to have an understanding of the structure and kinematics of the LMC. This is the topic of the present review. For information on other aspects of the LMC, the reader is referred to the book by Westerlund (1997). The book by van den Bergh (2000) discusses more generally how the properties of the LMC compare to those of other galaxies in the Local Group.
The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) at a distance of ~ 62 kpc is a little further from us than the LMC, and is about 5 times less massive. Its structure is more irregular than that of the LMC, and it is less well studied and understood. Recent studies of SMC structure and kinematics include the work by Hatzidimitriou et al. (1997), Udalski et al. (1998), Stanimirovic et al. (1999, 2004), Kunkel, Demers & Irwin (2000), Cioni, Habing & Israel (2000b), Zaritsky et al. (2000, 2002), Crowl et al. (2001) and Maragoudaki et al. (2001). However, our overall understanding of SMC structure and kinematics has not evolved much since the reviews by Westerlund and van den Bergh. The present review is therefore restricted to the LMC.