The county was named after the River Avon, which runs through the area. It was formed from parts of the historic counties of Gloucestershire and Somerset, together with the City of Bristol. After a short life, in 1996, the county was abolished. Save for Bristol which no longer has any dependence on a county, the area was returned to its former counties albeit with different governmental structures.
As a name Avon is still used for some purposes. The area had a population of approximately 1.08 million people in 2009.
The county was divided into six districts:
Bristol and Bath had identical boundaries to the former county boroughs.
Avon was one of the counties in the "first tranche" of reviews conducted by the Banham Commission in the 1990s. The Commission recommended that it and its districts be abolished and replaced with four unitary authorities. The Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995 was debated in the House of Commons on 22 February 1995. The Order came into effect on 1 April 1996. The four authorities that replaced Avon are:
For ceremonial purposes, the post of Lord Lieutenant of Avon was abolished and Bristol regained its own Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff, while the other authorities were returned to their traditional counties. Suggestions to alter Bristol's boundaries (either by drawing new boundaries or by merely incorporating the mostly urbanised borough of Kingswood into it) were rejected.