Rhode Island Counties
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Rhode Island Counties

There are five counties in the state of Rhode Island. Rhode Island has the second lowest number of counties of any US state (only Delaware has fewer, with three counties). Although Rhode Island is divided into counties, it does not have any local government at the county level.

Bristol County, Rhode Island

Bristol County Education, Geography, and HistoryBristol County, Rhode Island Courthouse

Bristol County is a county located in the state of Rhode Island. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 49,875, 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.

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.

Etymology - Origin of Bristol County Name

 The original county was part of the Plymouth Colony and named after its "shire town" (county seat), what is now Bristol, Rhode Island, named for George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Bristol County History

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

Established: February 17, 1747

Bristol County was created from Bristol, Mass., 1747. Kent County was made from Providence County in 1750. Newport County was originally created as Rhode Island County in 1703 and renamed in 1729. Providence County was formed as Providence Plantations County in 1703. Washington County was originally created as Kings County from Providence Plantations in 1729 and renamed in 1781. Block Island was transferred from Newport County to Washington County May 6, 1963. Although you will see the "South County" mentioned in many places, it does not exist as an actual county. Basically, Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Richmond, South Kingstown, Westerly and West Greenwich, make up what is known as South County, RI

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 45 square miles (116 km2), of which, 25 square miles (64 km2) of it is land and 20 square miles (52 km2) of it (44.80%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Bristol County, Massachusetts: east
  • Providence County, Rhode Island: north
  • Kent County, Rhode Island: west
  • Newport County, Rhode Island: south

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.)


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