Bristol is a city and ceremonial county in England. With a population of 463,400, it is the most populous city in South West England. The wider Bristol Built-Up Area has the 10th-largest population in England. The urban area population of 670,000 is the 11th-largest in the United Kingdom. The city lies between Gloucestershire to the north and Somerset to the south. South Wales lies across the Severn estuary.
Iron Age hill forts and Roman villas were built near the confluence of the rivers Frome and Avon, and around the beginning of the 11th century, the settlement was known as Brycgstow. Bristol received a royal charter in 1155 and was historically divided between Gloucestershire and Somerset until 1373 when it became a county of itself. From the 13th to the 18th century, Bristol was among the top three English cities, after London, in tax receipts; however, it was surpassed by the rapid rise of Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool in the Industrial Revolution.
Bristol was a starting place for early voyages of exploration to the New World. On a ship out of Bristol in 1497 John Cabot, a Venetian, became the first European to land on mainland North America.