Bristol is the largest city in South West England and 8th largest in the UK. Its population is around 416,000 with over 500,000 in the metropolitan area, sometimes referred to as Greater Bristol or the County of Avon.
Settlements no doubt existed many thousands of years ago in what we now call Bristol, and evidence exists for sporadic Roman settlements in the area (the suburb of Sea Mills was the site of a Roman settlement was called Portus Abonae). The name "Bristol" derives from the Old English word "Brycgstow", which means "the place at the bridge", clearly a referrence to a bridge over the River Avon. During Norman rule, Bristol had one of the strongest castles in the South.
Bristol has long since been an important city. Until the industrial revolution, Bristol had been in the top 3 largest cities in the UK for centuries. It was then overtaken by the rapid growth of some of Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, though it still retained its importance as the dominant city in the region due to rapid population growth during the 19th century, spawning new industries and infrastructure projects.
The geographical area surrounding Bristol has a history of name-changing. Prior to 1373 the city was considered parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset. In 1373 it was made into a county in its own right by Edward III, who proclaimed "that the said town of Bristol withall be a County by itself and called the county of Bristol for ever". It remained as such for centuries until in 1974 boundaries of the county were altered and it was renamed the County of Avon. In 1996 the County of Avon was abolished, the boundaries shrunk and the name changed back to "Bristol" again, this time in the guide of a Unitary Authority.
The River Avon runs through Bristol and has shaped the growth of the city around it. The Avon joins the Severn estuary at Avonmouth, flowing into the Bristol Channel (the major inlet separating South Wales from the North Devon and North Somerset) and extends via the estuary into the North Atlantic Ocean. Because of the river's easy access to the Celtic Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, Bristol enjoyed strong trade links with Ireland from the 12th century, and later with the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries when Bristol became a centre for slave trading.
Bristol's economy today is still strong as ever. The largest sector measured by number of employees is not surprisingly the public services sector. Like most large cities in the UK, the services sector plays a dominant role in the local economy, employing thousands of people in IT, media and financial services positions.
The aeronautical industry has a major presence in the city with with heavy-weights BAE Systems, Airbus and Rolls-Royce, based at Filton on northern outskirts of the city. The car manufacturer Bristol Cars is also based in Filton.
Other major employers include the Bristol Port Company, tobacco giant Imperial Tobacco, and Cameron Balloons, the world's largest manufacturer of hot air balloons, and various public sector organisations.
The following is a list of Wards in Bristol: Ashley, Avonmouth, Bedminster, Bishopston, Bishopsworth, Brislington East, Brislington West, Cabot, Clifton, Clifton East, Cotham, Easton, Eastville, Filwood, Frome Vale, Hartcliffe, Henbury, Hengrove, Henleaze, Hillfields, Horfield, Kingsweston, Knowle, Lawrence Hill, Lockleaze, Redland, Southmead, Southville, St George East, St George West, Stockwood, Stoke Bishop, Westbury-on-Trym, Whitchurch Park, Windmill Hill