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Bristol County, Rhode Island

Bristol County, Rhode Island
Bristol County Courthouse
Map of Rhode Island highlighting Bristol County
Location in the state of Rhode Island
Map of the United States highlighting Rhode Island
Rhode Island's location in the U.S.
Founded 1747
Seat Bristol
Largest town Bristol
 • Total 45 sq mi (117 km2)
 • Land 24 sq mi (62 km2)
 • Water 21 sq mi (54 km2), 46%
Population (est.)
 • (2014) 49,060
 • Density 2,064/sq mi (797/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Bristol County is a county located in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. As of the 2010 census, the population was 49,875,[1] making it the least populous county in Rhode Island. In terms of land area it is the third smallest county in the United States, at only 25 square miles (65 km2). The county was created in 1747 when it was separated from Bristol County, Massachusetts.[2]

Bristol County is included in the Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT Combined Statistical Area.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties 2.1
  • Demographics 3
  • Communities 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


The county was formed by the transfer of part of Bristol County, Massachusetts, to the state of Rhode Island, and was the subject of a long-running border dispute.[3]

The original county was part of the Plymouth Colony and named after its "shire town" (county seat), what is now Bristol, Rhode Island. The new Rhode Island county was formed in 1746 with the full modern territory of Bristol, Barrington, and Warren.[4]

See Bristol County, Massachusetts for later land transfers between Massachusetts and Rhode Island.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 45 square miles (120 km2), of which 24 square miles (62 km2) is land and 21 square miles (54 km2) (46%) is water.[5] It is the smallest county in Rhode Island. In land area only (water area omitted), it is the third-smallest county in the United States, following Kalawao County, Hawaii and New York County, New York (Manhattan), if independent cities of Virginia are not counted as counties. The highest point in the county is Mount Hope, in Bristol, which stands 217 feet (66 m) above sea level.

Adjacent counties

Bristol County in Rhode Island and Bristol County in Massachusetts are two of twenty-two counties or parishes in the United States with the same name to border each other across state lines. The others are Union Parish, Louisiana and Union County, Arkansas, Big Horn County, Montana and Big Horn County, Wyoming, Sabine County, Texas and Sabine Parish, Louisiana, Kent County, Maryland and Kent County, Delaware, Escambia County, Alabama and Escambia County, Florida, Pike County, Illinois and Pike County, Missouri, Teton County, Idaho and Teton County, Wyoming, Park County, Montana and Park County, Wyoming, San Juan County, New Mexico and San Juan County, Utah, and Vermilion County, Illinois and Vermillion County, Indiana. respectively. (Note, despite the different spellings, the source of the name is the same for Vermilion County, Illinois and Vermillion County, Indiana—the Vermillion River which flows through both counties.)


As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 50,648 people, 19,033 households, and 13,361 families residing in the county. The population density was 2,052 people per square mile (792/km²). There were 19,881 housing units at an average density of 805 per square mile (311/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.81% White, 0.69% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 1% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 1.01% from two or more races. 1.13% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 24.7% were of Portuguese, 18.6% Italian, 12.4% Irish, 10.5% English and 5.9% French ancestry according to Census 2000. 85.4% spoke English, 10.4% Portuguese and 1.3% Spanish as their first language. The United States Census Bureau reported Bristol County as being one of two counties in the United States with a plurality of people of Portuguese ancestry[12] (the other being contiguous Bristol County, Massachusetts).

There were 19,033 households out of which 31.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.30% were married couples living together, 9.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.80% were non-families. 25.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the county, the population was spread out with 22.90% under the age of 18, 9.50% from 18 to 24, 27.40% from 25 to 44, 23.40% from 45 to 64, and 16.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 93.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $50,737, and the median income for a family was $63,114. Males had a median income of $41,902 versus $28,985 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,503. About 4.40% of families and 6.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.20% of those under age 18 and 9.60% of those age 65 or over.


Map of Bristol County, Rhode Island showing cities, towns, and CDPs

The following towns are located in Bristol County:

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Rhode Island: Individual County Chronologies". Pennsylvania Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library. 2009. Retrieved March 14, 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Border is Where? Part II". The Rhode Islander: A depository of opinion, information, and pictures of the Ocean State. 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  4. ^ History of Bristol County, Massachusetts with Biographical Sketches of many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Part 1 edited by Duane Hamilton Hurd. J.W. Lewis and Co., 1883. [2]. p. 1.
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 14, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved March 14, 2015. 
  9. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 14, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved March 14, 2015. 
  11. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  12. ^ Census 2000 Brief - Ancestry

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