Bristol is a city with unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009 , and a larger surrounding urban areas ( LUZ), with 1,070,000 inhabitants in 2007 approx . It is the sixth largest city in England and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom .
Bristol received a Royal Charter in 1155 and gained the status of county in 1373. Since the 13th century , through a millennium, it ranked amongst the top three English cities after London, alongside York and Norwich , on the basis of tax receipts , until the rapid rise of Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester during the Industrial Revolution in the latter part of the eighteenth century . It borders the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire , and is also located near the historic cities of Bath to the south east and north of Gloucester. The city is built around the River Avon , and also has a short coastline on the Severn Estuary , which flows into the Bristol Channel .
Bristol is the largest center 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 center before being moved to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth ; RoyalPortbury Dock is on the western edge of the city boundary . In more recent years the economy has depended on electronic media , creative and aerospace industries , and the docks of the city center have been regenerated as a center of heritage and culture . There are 34 populated places on Earth named Bristol , most in the United States, but also in Peru , Canada , Jamaica , Barbados and Costa Rica , all presumably commemorating the original.
Bristol is home to two major institutions of higher education : the University of Bristol , a “brick red” , founded in 1909 , and the University of West of England , formerly Bristol Polytechnic , which gained university status in 1992. The city also has two dedicated further education institutions , City of Bristol College and Filton College , and three theological colleges , Trinity College, Wesley College and Bristol Baptist College. The city has 129 nursery schools , primary schools and primary schools, 17 secondary schools , and three schools in the city. The country has the second highest concentration of independent school places , after an exclusive corner of north London . Independent schools in the city include Colston’s School , Clifton College , Clifton High School, Badminton School , Bristol Cathedral School , Bristol Grammar School, Redland High School ‘s Queen Elizabeth Hospital ( the only all-boys school ) and the Red maids school , which claims to be the oldest school for girls in England , having been founded in 1634 by John Whitson.