Bristol is a city, ceremonial county and unitary authority area of South West England. The city received its Royal charter in 1155 and, for nearly 500 years, ranked among the top three English cities. Bristol borders Gloucestershire and Somerset counties and is located close to the historic city of Bath, with a small coastline on the Severn Estuary. In 2014, the estimated population of Bristol was 440,000, which makes it the 47th largest ceremonial county in England, the 6th most populous city in England.
Bristol is the largest city in the South West and one of England's eight "core cities." With a population of 440,000 in 2014, Bristol has shown higher-than-average population growth over the past decade. The city has a population density of 10,080 people per square mile (3,892/sq km), which gives it the 7th highest population density of any English district.
City Area Size and Population Density
The city covers an area of 110 square kilometers with a population density of approximately 3,892 people living per square kilometer.
The urban area has a larger population estimated at 630,000, while the metro population is estimated at 1.02 million.
Historical populations of Bristol
- 1377: 9,500
- 1607: 10,500
- 1700: 20,000
- 1801: 69,000
- 1901: 323,600
- 2001: 380,600
According to the 2011 census, the racial and ethnic composition of Bristol was:
- White: 84.0% (77.9% White British, 0.9% White Irish, 0.1% Gypsy or Irish Travellers, 5.1% other white)
- Black: 6.0% (2.8% African, 1.6% Caribbean, 1.6% other black)
- Asian: 5.5% (1.5% Indian, 1.6% Pakistani, 0.5% Bangladeshi, 0.9% Chinese, 1.0% other Asian)
- Mixed race: 3.6% (1.7% White and Black Caribbean, 0.4% White and Black African, 0.8% White and Asian, 0.7% other mixed race)
- Arab: 0.3%
- Other: 0.6%
Bristol is one of the only major British cities or towns with a black population larger than its Asian population. 16% of the population belongs to a minority ethnic group.
Bristol has more children under four than it did in 2001, and the number of young people in their 20s has grown. The city has the smallest percentage of residents over the age of 65 in the South West (13%), with a larger share of people between 15 and 49 years old compared to the national average.
The area of Bristol has evidence of human inhabitance going back 60,000 years old, with Iron Age hill forts nearby. There was a settlement near present-day Sea Mills during the Roman times called Abona. The town of Brycgstow was founded around c. 1000, and it had its mint. By 1067, the town had a fortified burh and one of the strongest castles in southern England under Norman rule.
The port began developing in the 11th century, and one hundred years later Bristol was an important port that handled a great deal of England's trade with Ireland. By the 14th century, Bristol was one of the 3 largest medieval towns in England after London. During the Black Death in the mid-14th century, the city lost 30-50% of its population, which slowed growth and caused the community to remain between 10,000 and 12,000 through the 16th century.
By the 15th century, Bristol was the second most important port in the country, with renewed growth in the 17th century during the rise of the American colonies and expansion of England's role in the slave trade to America. At the height of the slave trade (1700-1807), at least 500,000 African people were sent from Bristol to slavery in America.
The city struggled to keep pace with other manufacturing centers after the war with France and the abolition of slavery. Still, the city's population quintupled during the 19th century. By 1901, over 330,000 people called Bristol home, and it continued steady growth into the 20th century.
Bristol Population Growth
Over the past ten years, the population of Bristol has grown about 10%, climbing by 40,000 from 390,000 in 2001 to 428,000 in 2011. This is above the national average (7%) and one of the most significant population growth rates in the South West.
The population of Bristol is predicted to hit 473,000 by 2021.