NOTE: This page deals with the modern, unitary authority of Bristol. For the original city whose governing body was abolished in 1974, see Bristol.
Bristol, England is a unitary authority and ceremonial county in southwest England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009. It is England's sixth and the United Kingdom's eighth most populous city, and by far the largest city in the southwest of the country.
Bristol was established as a unitary authority independent of any county in 1996 when the short-lived County of Avon, made up of the original Bristol and surrounding parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset was abolished.
Bristol is unusual in having been a city with county status since medieval times. The city first received a Royal Charter in 1155 and was granted County status in 1373. From the 13th century, for half a millennium, it ranked amongst the top three English cities on the basis of tax receipts, with only London, York and Norwich in the top echelon. The Industrial Revolution in the latter part of the 18th century brought Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester into play.
The county was expanded to include suburbs such as Clifton in 1835, and it was named a county borough in 1889, when the term was first introduced. At this point many more parishes surrounding the borough were absorbed into it.
Bristol is the largest centre of culture, employment and education in the region. Its prosperity has been linked with the sea since its earliest days. The commercial Port of Bristol was originally in the city centre before being moved to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth and the Royal Portbury Dock on the opposite side of the River Avon on the western boundary of the city. In more recent years the economy has depended on the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries, and the city centre docks have been regenerated as a centre of heritage and culture.
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