County (United States)

In the United States, an administrative or political subdivision of a state is a county, which is a region having specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority.[3] The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs respectively.[3]

Most counties have subdivisions which may include municipalities and unincorporated areas. Others have no further divisions, or may serve as a consolidated city-county. Some municipalities are in multiple counties; New York City is uniquely partitioned into five counties, referred to at the city government level as boroughs.

The United States Census Bureau uses the term "county equivalent" to describe places that are comparable to counties, but called by different names. Louisiana parishes; the organized boroughs of Alaska; the District of Columbia; and the independent cities of the states of Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, and Nevada are equivalent to counties for administrative purposes. Alaska's Unorganized Borough is divided into 10 census areas that are statistically equivalent to counties. As of 2018, there are currently 3,142 counties and county-equivalents in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.[4] If the 100 county equivalents in the U.S. territories are counted, then the total is 3,242 counties and county-equivalents in the United States.[5][6][b][7][8]

The number of counties per state ranges from the 3 counties of Delaware to the 254 counties of Texas.

The specific governmental powers of counties vary widely between the states. Counties have significant functions in all states except Rhode Island and Connecticut, where county governments have been abolished but the entities remain for administrative or statistical purposes. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has removed most government functions from eight of its 14 counties.

The county with the largest population, Los Angeles County (10,170,292),[9] and the county with the largest land area, San Bernardino County, border each other in Southern California (however four boroughs in Alaska are larger in area than San Bernardino).

Territories of the United States do not have counties (except for American Samoa, which does have them);[10] instead, the United States Census Bureau divides them into county equivalents. While America Samoa does have its own counties, the U.S. Census Bureau counts American Samoa's districts and atolls as county-equivalents.[7][8]

County
Also known as:
Parish (Louisiana)
Borough (Alaska)
Usa counties large
CategorySecond-level administrative division
LocationStates, federal district and territories of the United States of America
Number3,242 (including 135 county equivalents in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the 100 county equivalents in the U.S. territories)
PopulationsGreatest: Los Angeles County, California—10,170,292 (2015)
Least: Kalawao County, Hawaii—89 (2015)
8 entities[a] (county equivalents)—0 (2018)
Average: 103,554 (2017)
AreasLargest: San Bernardino County, California—20,057 sq mi (51,950 km2)
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska (county equivalent)—145,505 sq mi (376,860 km2)
Smallest: Kalawao County, Hawaii—12 sq mi (31 km2)
Independent City of Falls Church, Virginia (county equivalent)—2 sq mi (5.2 km2)
Smallest (including territories): Kingman Reef (county equivalent)—0.01 sq mi (0.026 km2)[1][2]
Average: 1,208 sq mi (3,130 km2)
GovernmentCounty commission, Board of Supervisors (AZ, CA, IA, MS, VA, WI) County council (WA), Commissioners' Court (TX), Board of chosen freeholders (NJ), Fiscal Court (KY), Police Jury (LA)
County executive, County mayor, County judge, County manager, Sole commissioner
SubdivisionsTownship
Hundred

History

Counties were among the earliest units of local government established in the Thirteen Colonies that would become the United States. Virginia created the first counties in order to ease the administrative workload in Jamestown. The House of Burgesses divided the colony first into four "incorporations" in 1617 and finally into eight shires (or counties) in 1634: James City, Henrico, Charles City, Charles River, Warrosquyoake, Accomac, Elizabeth City, and Warwick River.[11] America's oldest intact county court records can be found at Eastville, Virginia, in Northampton (originally Accomac) County, dating to 1632.[12] Maryland established its first county, St. Mary's, in 1637, and Massachusetts followed in 1643. Pennsylvania and New York delegated significant power and responsibility from state government to county governments and thereby established a pattern for most of the United States, although counties remained relatively weak in New England.[13]

When independence came, "the framers of the Constitution did not provide for local governments. Rather, they left the matter to the states. Subsequently, early state constitutions generally conceptualized county government as an arm of the state." In the twentieth century, the role of local governments strengthened and counties began providing more services, acquiring home rule and county commissions to pass local ordinances pertaining to their unincorporated areas.[14]

In some states, these powers are partly or mostly devolved to the counties' smaller divisions usually called townships, though in New York, New England and Wisconsin they are called "towns". The county may or may not be able to override its townships on certain matters, depending on the state constitution.

The newest county in the United States is the city and county of Broomfield, Colorado, established in 2001 as a consolidated city-county.[15][16] The newest county-equivalents are the Alaskan boroughs of Skagway established in 2007, Wrangell established in 2008, and Petersburg established in 2013.[17]

County variations

Consolidated city-counties

A consolidated city-county is simultaneously a city, which is a municipality (municipal corporation), and a county, which is an administrative division of a state, having the powers and responsibilities of both types of entities. There are 40 consolidated city-counties in the U.S.,[3] including Augusta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacksonville, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky; Kansas City, Kansas, Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and San Francisco, California.

Similarly, some of Alaska's boroughs have merged with their principal cities creating unified city-boroughs. Some such consolidations and mergers have created cities that rank among the geographically largest cities in the world, though often with population densities far below those of most urban areas.

County equivalents

The term county equivalents is used to describe divisions whose organization differs from that of most counties:

  • Alaska census areas: Most of the land area of Alaska is not contained within any of Alaska's 19 organized boroughs. This vast area, larger than France and Germany combined, is officially referred to by the Alaska state government as the Unorganized Borough and outside of other incorporated borough limits, has no independent "county" government, although several incorporated city governments exist within its boundaries; the majority of it is governed and run by the State of Alaska as an extension of state government.[c] The United States Census Bureau, in cooperation with the Alaska state government for census and electoral districting purposes, has divided the Unorganized Borough into 11 census areas for statistical purposes only.[d]
  • Louisiana parishes
  • Independent cities: These are cities that legally belong to no county. They differ from consolidated city-counties in that in the case of a consolidated city-county, the county at least nominally exists, whereas in the case of an independent city, no county even nominally exists. As of July 2013, there are 41 such cities in the United States, including Baltimore, Maryland; Carson City, Nevada; St. Louis, Missouri; and all 38 cities in Virginia, where any area incorporated as a city is outside of the county jurisdiction.[20][21]
  • District of Columbia,[22] outside the jurisdiction of any state, has a special status. The District of Columbia comprises the entirety of the District of Columbia, which, in accordance with Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress. When founded in 1801, the District consisted of two counties and three cities. In 1846, Alexandria County (which now forms Arlington County and a portion of the independent city of Alexandria)—including the then City of Alexandria—was given back to Virginia. In 1871, the three remaining entities—the City of Washington, City of Georgetown, and Washington County (which was coterminous with the District)—were merged into a consolidated government of District of Columbia by an act of Congress. Georgetown was abolished as a city by another act in 1895.

Consolidated city-counties are not designated county-equivalents for administrative purposes; since both the city and the county at least nominally exist, they are properly classified as counties in their own right. The same is true of the boroughs of New York City, each of which is coextensive with a county of New York State.

Territories

There are no counties per se in U.S. territories. American Samoa has its own counties, but the U.S. Census Bureau does not count them as counties (instead, the U.S. Census Bureau counts American Samoa's 3 districts and 2 atolls as county equivalents).[7][8] American Samoa's counties are treated as minor civil divisions.[8] Most territories are directly divided into municipalities or similar units, which are treated as equivalent of counties for statistical purposes:[7][2][8][23]

The U.S. Census Bureau counts all of Guam as one county-equivalent (with the FIPS code 66010),[7][8] while the USGS counts Guam's election districts (villages) as county-equivalents.[24][25] The U.S. Census Bureau counts the 3 main islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands as county-equivalents, while the USGS counts the districts of the U.S. Virgin Islands (of which there are 2) as county-equivalents.[7][24]

Organization

The site of a county's administration, and often the county courthouse, is called the county seat ("parish seat" in Louisiana, or "borough seat" in Alaska). Several New England counties use the term "shire town" for the county seat.

Many counties are divided into smaller political or governmental units. In Northeastern and Midwestern states, counties are divided into civil townships (or "towns" in New England, New York, and Wisconsin), which may provide governmental or public services.

County names

Common sources of county names are names of people, geographic features, places in other states or countries, Native American tribes, and animals. Quite a few counties bear names of French or Spanish origin.[26]

Counties are most often named for people, often political figures or early settlers, with over 2,100 of the 3,144 total so named. The most common county name, with 31, is Washington County, for America's first president, George Washington. Up until 1871, there was a Washington County within the District of Columbia, but it was dissolved by the District of Columbia Organic Act. Jefferson County, for Thomas Jefferson, is next with 26. The most recent president to have a county named for him was Warren G. Harding, reflecting the slowing rate of county creation since New Mexico and Arizona became states in 1912. The most common names for counties not named after a president are Franklin (25), Clay (18), and Montgomery (18).

After people, the next most common source of county names are geographic features and locations, with some counties even being named after counties in other states, or for places in countries such as the United Kingdom. The most common geographic county name is Lake. Native American tribes and animals lend their names to some counties. Quite a few counties bear names of French or Spanish origin, including Marquette County being named after French missionary Father Jacques Marquette.[26]

The county's equivalent in the state of Louisiana, the parish (Fr. paroisse civile and Sp. parroquia) took its name during the state's French and Spanish colonial periods. Before the Louisiana Purchase and granting of statehood, government was often administered in towns where major church parishes were located. Of the original 19 civil parishes of Louisiana that date from statehood in 1807, nine were named after the Roman Catholic parishes from which they were governed.

County government

The powers of counties arise from state law and vary widely.[27] In Connecticut and Rhode Island,[28][29] counties are geographic entities, but not governmental jurisdictions. At the other extreme, Maryland counties and the county-equivalent City of Baltimore handle almost all services, including public education, although the state retains an active oversight authority with many of these services.[30]

In most Midwestern and Northeastern states, counties are further subdivided into townships or towns, which sometimes exercise local powers or administration. Throughout the United States, counties may contain other independent, self-governing municipalities.

Counties are usually governed by an elected body, variously called the county commission, board of supervisors, commissioners' court, county council, board of chosen freeholders, county court, or county Legislature. In some counties, there is a county executive. In cases in which a consolidated city-county or independent city exists, a City Council usually governs city/county or city affairs.

In many states, the board in charge of a county holds powers that transcend all three traditional branches of government. It has the legislative power to enact ordinances for the county; it has the executive power to oversee the executive operations of county government; and it has quasi-judicial power with regard to certain limited matters (such as hearing appeals from the planning commission if one exists).

The day-to-day operations of the county government are sometimes overseen by an elected county executive or by a chief administrative officer or county administrator who reports to the board, the mayor, or both.

In many states, several important officials are elected separately from the board of commissioners or supervisors and cannot be fired by the board. These positions may include county clerk, county treasurer, county surrogate, sheriff, and others.

District attorneys or state attorneys are usually state-level as opposed to county-level officials, but in many states, counties and state judicial districts have coterminous boundaries.

The structure and powers of a county government may be defined by the general law of the state or by a charter specific to that county. States may allow only general-law counties, only charter counties, or both. Generally, general-law local governments have less autonomy than chartered local governments.[31]

Scope of power

The power of county governments varies widely from state to state, as does the relationship between counties and incorporated cities. The government of the county usually resides in a municipality called the county seat. However, some counties may have multiple seats or no seat. In some counties with no incorporated municipalities, a large settlement may serve as the county seat.

Minimal scope

In New England, counties function at most as judicial court districts and sheriff's departments (presently, in Connecticut only as judicial court districts—and in Rhode Island, they have lost both those functions and all others), and most of the governmental authority below the state level is in the hands of towns and cities. In several of Maine's sparsely populated counties, small towns rely on the county for law enforcement, and in New Hampshire several social programs are administered at the state level. In Connecticut, Rhode Island, and parts of Massachusetts, counties are now only geographic designations, and they do not have any governmental powers. All government is either done at the state level or at the municipal level. In Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts, regional councils have been established to partially fill the void left behind by the abolished county governments.[e] The regional councils' authority is limited compared with a county government—they have authority only over infrastructure and land use planning, distribution of state and federal funds for infrastructure projects, emergency preparedness, and limited law enforcement duties.

Moderate scope

In the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, counties typically provide, at a minimum, courts, public utilities, libraries, hospitals, public health services, parks, roads, law enforcement, and jails. There is usually a county registrar, recorder, or clerk (the exact title varies) who collects vital statistics, holds elections (sometimes in coordination with a separate elections office or commission), and prepares or processes certificates of births, deaths, marriages, and dissolutions (divorce decrees). The county recorder normally maintains the official record of all real estate transactions. Other key county officials include the coroner/medical examiner, treasurer, assessor, auditor, comptroller, and district attorney.

In most states, the county sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the county. However, except in major emergencies where clear chains of command are essential, the county sheriff normally does not directly control the police departments of city governments, but merely cooperates with them (e.g., under mutual aid pacts). Thus, the most common interaction between county and city law enforcement personnel is when city police officers deliver suspects to sheriff's deputies for detention or incarceration in the county jail.

In most states, the state courts and local law enforcement are organized and implemented along county boundaries, but nearly all of the substantive and procedural law adjudicated in state trial courts originates from the state legislature and state appellate courts. In other words, most criminal defendants are prosecuted for violations of state law, not local ordinances, and if they, the district attorney, or police seek reforms to the criminal justice system, they will usually have to direct their efforts towards the state legislature rather than the county (which merely implements state law). A typical criminal defendant will be arraigned and subsequently indicted or held over for trial before a trial court in and for a particular county where the crime occurred, kept in the county jail (if he is not granted bail or cannot make bail), prosecuted by the county's district attorney, and tried before a jury selected from that county. But long-term incarceration is rarely a county responsibility, execution of capital punishment is never a county responsibility, and the state's responses to prisoners' appeals is the responsibility of the state attorney general, who has to defend before the state appellate courts the prosecutions conducted by locally elected district attorneys in the name of the state. Furthermore, county-level trial court judges are officers of the judicial branch of the state government rather than county governments.

In many states, the county controls all unincorporated lands within its boundaries. In states with a township tier, unincorporated land is controlled by the townships. Residents of unincorporated land who are dissatisfied with county-level or township-level resource allocation decisions can attempt to vote to incorporate as a city, town, or village.

A few counties directly provide public transportation themselves, usually in the form of a simple bus system. However, in most counties, public transportation is provided by one of the following: a special-purpose district that is coterminous with the county (but exists separately from the county government), a multi-county regional transit authority, or a state agency.

Broad scope

In western and southern states, more populated counties provide many facilities, such as airports, convention centers, museums, recreation centers, beaches, harbors, zoos, clinics, law libraries, and public housing. They provide services such as child and family services, elder services, mental health services, welfare services, veterans assistance services, animal control, probation supervision, historic preservation, food safety regulation, and environmental health services. They have many additional officials like public defenders, arts commissioners, human rights commissioners, and planning commissioners. Finally, there may also be a county fire department and even a county police department (as distinguished from fire and police departments operated by individual cities, special districts, or the state government). For example, Gwinnett County, Georgia, and its county seat, the city of Lawrenceville, each have their own police departments. (A separate county sheriff's department is responsible for security of the county courts and administration of the county jail.) In several southern states, public school systems are organized and administered at the county level.

Statistics

As of 2016, there were 3,007 counties, 64 parishes, 19 organized boroughs, 10 census areas, 41 independent cities,[f] and the District of Columbia for a total of 3,142 counties and county-equivalents in the 50 states and District of Columbia.[4] There are an additional 100 county equivalents in the territories of the United States.[7][8][2] The average number of counties per state is 62, with a range from the three counties of Delaware to the 254 counties of Texas.

Southern and Midwestern states generally tend to have more counties than Western or Northeastern states, as many Northeastern states are not large enough in area to warrant a large number of counties, and many Western states were sparsely populated when counties were created. The five counties of Rhode Island, the eight counties of Connecticut, and eight of the 14 counties of Massachusetts no longer have functional county governments, but continue to exist as legal and census entities.

The counties and county-equivalents of the United States of America, by state

State, federal district
or territory
Total Subdivisions[4] Average
2016 population[4] Land area[33] Counties Equivalents Total Population Land area
Alabama Alabama 4,863,300 50,645 sq mi
131,171 km2
67 67 72,587 756 sq mi
1,958 km2
Alaska Alaska[g] 741,894 570,641 sq mi
1,477,953 km2
29 29 25,582 19,677 sq mi
50,964 km2
Arizona Arizona 6,931,071 113,594 sq mi
294,207 km2
15 15 462,071 7,573 sq mi
19,614 km2
Arkansas Arkansas 2,988,248 52,035 sq mi
134,771 km2
75 75 39,843 694 sq mi
1,797 km2
California California 39,250,017 155,779 sq mi
403,466 km2
58 58 676,724 2,686 sq mi
6,956 km2
Colorado Colorado 5,540,545 103,642 sq mi
268,431 km2
64 64 86,571 1,619 sq mi
4,194 km2
Connecticut Connecticut 3,576,452 4,842 sq mi
12,542 km2
8 8 447,057 605 sq mi
1,568 km2
Delaware Delaware 952,065 1,949 sq mi
5,047 km2
3 3 317,355 650 sq mi
1,682 km2
Washington, D.C. District of Columbia[h] 681,170 61 sq mi
158 km2
1 1 681,170 61 sq mi
158 km2
Florida Florida 20,612,439 53,625 sq mi
138,887 km2
67 67 307,648 800 sq mi
2,073 km2
Georgia (U.S. state) Georgia 10,310,371 57,513 sq mi
148,959 km2
159 159 64,845 362 sq mi
937 km2
Hawaii Hawaii 1,428,557 6,423 sq mi
16,635 km2
5 5 285,711 1,285 sq mi
3,327 km2
Idaho Idaho 1,683,140 82,643 sq mi
214,045 km2
44 44 38,253 1,878 sq mi
4,865 km2
Illinois Illinois 12,801,539 55,519 sq mi
143,793 km2
102 102 125,505 544 sq mi
1,410 km2
Indiana Indiana 6,633,053 35,826 sq mi
92,789 km2
92 92 72,098 389 sq mi
1,009 km2
Iowa Iowa 3,134,693 55,857 sq mi
144,669 km2
99 99 31,664 564 sq mi
1,461 km2
Kansas Kansas 2,907,289 81,759 sq mi
211,754 km2
105 105 27,688 779 sq mi
2,017 km2
Kentucky Kentucky 4,436,974 39,486 sq mi
102,269 km2
120 120 36,975 329 sq mi
852 km2
Louisiana Louisiana[i] 4,681,666 43,204 sq mi
111,898 km2
64 64 73,151 675 sq mi
1,748 km2
Maine Maine 1,331,479 30,843 sq mi
79,883 km2
16 16 83,217 1,928 sq mi
4,993 km2
Maryland Maryland[j] 6,016,447 9,707 sq mi
25,142 km2
23 1 24 250,685 404 sq mi
1,048 km2
Massachusetts Massachusetts 6,811,779 7,800 sq mi
20,202 km2
14 14 486,556 557 sq mi
1,443 km2
Michigan Michigan 9,928,300 56,539 sq mi
146,435 km2
83 83 119,618 681 sq mi
1,764 km2
Minnesota Minnesota 5,519,952 79,627 sq mi
206,232 km2
87 87 63,448 915 sq mi
2,370 km2
Mississippi Mississippi 2,988,726 46,923 sq mi
121,531 km2
82 82 36,448 572 sq mi
1,482 km2
Missouri Missouri[k] 6,093,000 68,742 sq mi
178,040 km2
114 1 115 52,983 598 sq mi
1,548 km2
Montana Montana 1,042,520 145,546 sq mi
376,962 km2
56 56 18,616 2,599 sq mi
6,731 km2
Nebraska Nebraska 1,907,116 76,824 sq mi
198,974 km2
93 93 20,507 826 sq mi
2,140 km2
Nevada Nevada[l] 2,940,058 109,781 sq mi
284,332 km2
16 1 17 172,945 6,458 sq mi
16,725 km2
New Hampshire New Hampshire 1,334,795 8,953 sq mi
23,187 km2
10 10 133,480 895 sq mi
2,319 km2
New Jersey New Jersey 8,944,469 7,354 sq mi
19,047 km2
21 21 425,927 350 sq mi
907 km2
New Mexico New Mexico 2,081,015 121,298 sq mi
314,161 km2
33 33 63,061 3,676 sq mi
9,520 km2
New York (state) New York 19,745,289 47,126 sq mi
122,057 km2
62 62 318,472 760 sq mi
1,969 km2
North Carolina North Carolina 10,146,788 48,618 sq mi
125,920 km2
100 100 101,468 486 sq mi
1,259 km2
North Dakota North Dakota 757,952 69,001 sq mi
178,711 km2
53 53 14,301 1,302 sq mi
3,372 km2
Ohio Ohio 11,614,373 40,861 sq mi
105,829 km2
88 88 131,982 464 sq mi
1,203 km2
Oklahoma Oklahoma 3,923,561 68,595 sq mi
177,660 km2
77 77 50,955 891 sq mi
2,307 km2
Oregon Oregon 4,093,465 95,988 sq mi
248,608 km2
36 36 113,707 2,666 sq mi
6,906 km2
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania 12,784,227 44,743 sq mi
115,883 km2
67 67 190,809 668 sq mi
1,730 km2
Rhode Island Rhode Island 1,056,426 1,034 sq mi
2,678 km2
5 5 211,285 207 sq mi
536 km2
South Carolina South Carolina 4,961,119 30,061 sq mi
77,857 km2
46 46 107,850 653 sq mi
1,693 km2
South Dakota South Dakota 865,454 75,811 sq mi
196,350 km2
66 66 13,113 1,149 sq mi
2,975 km2
Tennessee Tennessee 6,651,194 41,235 sq mi
106,798 km2
95 95 70,013 434 sq mi
1,124 km2
Texas Texas 27,862,596 261,232 sq mi
676,587 km2
254 254 109,695 1,028 sq mi
2,664 km2
Utah Utah 3,051,217 82,170 sq mi
212,818 km2
29 29 105,214 2,833 sq mi
7,339 km2
Vermont Vermont 624,594 9,217 sq mi
23,871 km2
14 14 44,614 658 sq mi
1,705 km2
Virginia Virginia[m] 8,411,808 39,490 sq mi
102,279 km2
95 38 133 63,247 295 sq mi
763 km2
Washington (state) Washington 7,288,000 66,456 sq mi
172,119 km2
39 39 186,872 1,704 sq mi
4,413 km2
West Virginia West Virginia 1,831,102 24,038 sq mi
62,259 km2
55 55 33,293 437 sq mi
1,132 km2
Wisconsin Wisconsin 5,778,708 54,158 sq mi
140,268 km2
72 72 80,260 752 sq mi
1,948 km2
Wyoming Wyoming 585,501 97,093 sq mi
251,470 km2
23 23 25,457 4,221 sq mi
10,933 km2
United States
(50 states and the District of Columbia)
323,127,513 3,531,905 sq mi
9,147,592 km2
3,007 135 3,142 102,841 1,124 sq mi
2,910 km2
American Samoa American Samoa[n][10][7] 51,504 77 sq mi
199 km2
5 5 11,104 15 sq mi
40 km2
Guam Guam[o] 162,742 210 sq mi
540 km2
1 1 162,742 210 sq mi
540 km2
Northern Mariana Islands Northern Mariana Islands[p] 52,263 179 sq mi
464 km2
4 4 13,066 45 sq mi
116 km2
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico[q] 3,337,177 3,515 sq mi
9,104 km2
78 78 42,784 45 sq mi
116 km2
United States U.S. Minor Outlying Islands[r][s] 160 13 sq mi
34 km2
9 9 18 1 sq mi
4 km2
United States Virgin Islands U.S. Virgin Islands[t] 104,901 134 sq mi
346 km2
3 3 34,967 45 sq mi
115 km2
United States
(50 states, the District of Columbia, and territories)
326,836,260 3,535,948 sq mi
9,158,064 km2
3,007 235 3,242 100,813 1,091 sq mi
2,825 km2

Population

The average U.S. county population was nearly 100,000 in 2015. The most populous county is Los Angeles County, California, with 10,170,292 residents in 2015.[34] This number is greater than the populations of 41 U.S. states, and even about 900,000 larger than the population of the 10 lowest population counties combined. It also makes Los Angeles County 17.4 times as large as the least populous state, Wyoming.

The second most populous county is Cook County, Illinois, with a population of 5,238,216.[34] Cook County's population is larger than that of 28 individual U.S. states and the combined populations of the six smallest states.[34]

The least populous county is Kalawao County, Hawaii, with 89 residents in 2015.[34] 8 county-equivalents in the U.S. territories have a population of 0: Rose Atoll, Northern Islands Municipality, Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, and Navassa Island.[2][35][36] The remaining 3 islands in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands have small non-permanent human populations. The least populous county-equivalent with a permanent human population is Swains Island, American Samoa (17 residents).[37]

The most densely populated county or county-equivalent is New York County, New York (coextensive with the New York City Borough of Manhattan), with 72,033 persons per square mile (27,812/km2) in 2015. The Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska, is both the most extensive and the least densely populated county or county-equivalent with 0.0380 persons per square mile (0.0147/km2) in 2015.[34]

In the 50 states (plus District of Columbia), a total of 981 counties have a population over 50,000; 592 counties have a population over 100,000; 137 counties have a population over 500,000; 45 counties have a population over 1,000,000; and 14 counties have a population over 2,000,000. At the other extreme, 35 counties have a population under 1,000; 307 counties have a population under 5,000; 709 counties have a population under 10,000; and 1,492 counties have a population between 10,000 and 50,000.[34]

Area

NicholasCountySignWV
A highway sign designating the border between Nicholas and Greenbrier counties in West Virginia along a secondary road

At the 2000 U.S. Census, the median land area of U.S. counties was 622 sq mi (1,610 km2), which is two-thirds of the median land area of a ceremonial county of England, and a little more than a quarter of the median land area of a French département. Counties in the western United States typically have a much larger land area than those in the eastern United States. For example, the median land area of counties in Georgia is 343 sq mi (890 km2), whereas in Utah it is 2,427 sq mi (6,290 km2).

The most extensive county or county-equivalent is the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska, with a land area of 145,505 square miles (376,856 km2). All nine of the most extensive county-equivalents are in Alaska. The most extensive county is San Bernardino County, California, with a land area of 20,057 square miles (51,947 km2). The least extensive county is Kalawao County, Hawaii, with a land area of 11.991 square miles (31.058 km2). The least extensive county-equivalent in the 50 states is the independent City of Falls Church, Virginia, with a land area of 1.999 square miles (5.177 km2).[3] If U.S. territories are included, the least extensive county-equivalent is Kingman Reef, with a land area of 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2).[1]

Geographic relationships between cities and counties

In some states, a municipality may be in only one county and may not annex territory in adjacent counties, but in the majority of states, the state constitution or state law allows municipalities to extend across county boundaries. At least 32 states include municipalities in multiple counties. Dallas and Oklahoma City, for example, both contain portions of five counties. New York City is an unusual case because it encompasses multiple entire counties in one city. Each of those counties is coextensive with one of the five boroughs of the city: Manhattan (New York County), The Bronx (Bronx County), Queens (Queens County), Brooklyn (Kings County), and Staten Island (Richmond County).

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The 8 county-equivalents with zero people are Rose Atoll (American Samoa), Northern Islands Municipality (Northern Mariana Islands), Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef and Navassa Island
  2. ^ At the time of the most recent 2010 census, 3,143 counties and equivalents were recorded in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with another 100 county equivalents recorded in the territories (when the nine Minor Outlying Islands are included). Since that time, the independent city of Bedford, Virginia was dissolved and had its territory added to Bedford County, Virginia. Also, Alaska's Petersburg census area incorporated as Petersburg Borough, Alaska. The net result of these changes has been the loss of one county equivalent in the grand total.
  3. ^ The Unorganized Borough, Alaska formed by the Borough Act of 1961 is a legal entity, run by the Alaska state government as an extension of State government,[18] it and the independently incorporated Unified, Home Rule, First Class and Second Class boroughs roughly correspond to parishes in Louisiana and to counties in the other 48 states.[19]
  4. ^ These 11 statistical areas are used solely by the United States Census Bureau to tabulate population and other census statistics within the Unorganized Borough; they have no legal basis in Alaska state or federal law other than for electoral representation and federal financial assistance purposes.
  5. ^ Unlike in Massachusetts, Connecticut's regional councils do not conform to the old county lines, but rather, they are composed of towns that share the same geographic region and have similar demographics.
  6. ^ Prior to July 1, 2016, there were 42 independent cities. At that time, Bedford, Virginia, gave up its city status and became a town within Bedford County.[32]
  7. ^ The State of Alaska has 19 organized boroughs and one Unorganized Borough divided into 10 census areas.
  8. ^ The United States Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget consider the entire District of Columbia to be a county equivalent.
  9. ^ The State of Louisiana has 64 parishes instead of counties.
  10. ^ The State of Maryland has 23 counties and the independent City of Baltimore.
  11. ^ The State of Missouri has 114 counties and the independent City of St. Louis.
  12. ^ The State of Nevada has 16 counties and the independent Consolidated Municipality of Carson City.
  13. ^ The Commonwealth of Virginia has 95 counties and 38 independent cities.
  14. ^ American Samoa has 14 counties, but these counties are not counted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Bureau instead counts American Samoa's 3 districts and 2 atolls as county-equivalents
  15. ^ Guam does not have counties. All of Guam is counted as one county-equivalent by the U.S. Census Bureau.
  16. ^ The Northern Mariana Islands do not have counties. The U.S. Census Bureau counts the 4 municipalities of the Northern Mariana Islands as county-equivalents.
  17. ^ Puerto Rico does not have counties. The U.S. Census Bureau counts Puerto Rico's 78 municipalities as county-equivalents.
  18. ^ The U.S. Minor Outlying Islands do not have counties. The U.S. Census Bureau counts each of the 9 island groups in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands as county-equivalents.
  19. ^ The Minor Outlying Islands have no permanent residents. All reported population consists of temporary military and scientific habitation.
  20. ^ The United States Virgin Islands do not have counties. The U.S. Census Bureau counts the 3 main islands (Saint Croix, Saint Thomas and Saint John) as county-equivalents.

References

  1. ^ a b https://www.britannica.com/place/Kingman-Reef Kingman Reef. Britannica.com. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d http://www.statoids.com/uum.html Territories of United States Minor Outlying Islands. Statoids.com. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "An Overview of County Government". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on April 17, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "County Totals Datasets: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". 2012 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. March 2013. Archived from the original on July 7, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  5. ^ "2010 Census Geographic Entity Tallies by State and Type". United States Census Bureau.
  6. ^ "Substantial Changes to Counties and County Equivalent Entities: 1970-Present". United States Census Bureau.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h https://www.census.gov/geo/reference/codes/cou.html 2010 FIPS Codes for Counties and County Equivalent Entities. Census.gov. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g https://www2.census.gov/geo/pdfs/reference/GARM/Ch4GARM.pdf States, Counties, and Statistically Equivalent Entities (Chapter 4). Census.gov. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  9. ^ "American Fact Finder - Results". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  10. ^ a b http://www.statoids.com/yas.html Counties of American Samoa. Statoids.com. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  11. ^ Harch, Charles E. (1957). The First Seventeen Years, Virginia, 1607–1624. Jamestown 350th Anniversary Historical. pp. 20, 75–76.
  12. ^ [1] Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Reynolds, Osborne M., Jr. (2009). Local Government Law (3rd ed.). St. Paul: West. p. 19.
  14. ^ "Learn About What What Counties Do". National Association of Counties. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  15. ^ Rubino, Joe (December 24, 2011). "Broomfield 50th anniversary: Success in first 50 years stemmed from bold actions". Broomfield Enterprise. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  16. ^ "Broomfield History". City and County of Broomfield. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  17. ^ Viechnicki, Joe (January 3, 2013). "Petersburg Becomes 19th Borough In Alaska". Alaska Public Media.
  18. ^ "Alaska Statutes Title 29 Chapter 03. The Unorganized Borough". Local Government On-Line, Division of Community and Regional Affairs, Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. August 18, 1998. Archived from the original on April 15, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2008.
  19. ^ "Local Government in Alaska" (PDF). Local Boundary Commission, Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. February 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 18, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2008.
  20. ^ "Population and Area of All Virginia Local Governments, 1790–2010" (PDF). Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. April 19, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  21. ^ "County & County Equivalent Areas". United States Census Bureau. April 19, 2005. Archived from the original on November 28, 2007. Retrieved December 8, 2007.
  22. ^ Geography, US Census Bureau. "US Census Bureau Geography 2010 FIPS Code Files for Counties and County Equivalent Entities". Census.gov. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  23. ^ http://www.hl7.org/fhir/valueset-fips-county.html FHIR. US counties and county equivalent entities codes. US Realm Taskforce Work Group. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  24. ^ a b https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/how-many-counties-are-there-united-states How many counties are there in the United States? USGS.gov. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  25. ^ https://www2.census.gov/geo/maps/metroarea/stcbsa_pg/Feb2013/cbsa2013_GU.pdf Guam Election Districts. Census.gov. Retrieved July 6, 0218.
  26. ^ a b Kane, Joseph Nathan; Aiken, Charles Curry (2004). The American Counties: Origins of County Names, Dates of Creation, and Population Data, 1950-2000. Scarecrow Press. p. vii-xii. ISBN 978-0-8108-5036-1.
  27. ^ Reynolds, Osborne M., Jr. (2001). Handbook of Local Government Law (2nd ed.). St. Paul: West Group. p. 26.
  28. ^ "Connecticut State Register and Manual, Section VI: Counties". Connecticut Secretary of the State. Retrieved January 23, 2010. There are no county seats in Connecticut. County government was abolished effective October 1, 1960; counties function only as geographical subdivisions.
  29. ^ "Facts & History". Retrieved January 23, 2010. Rhode Island has no county government. It is divided into 39 municipalities each having its own form of local government.
  30. ^ "Direct links to all 24 Maryland Local Education Agencies' web sites". Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  31. ^ General law local government, from Ballotpedia
  32. ^ Faulconer, Justin (July 1, 2013). "Bedford reversion to town becomes official today". The News & Advance. Lynchburg, VA. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  33. ^ "Table 358. Land and Water Area of States and Other Entities: 2008". Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012. United States Census Bureau. May 1, 2008. Archived from the original on July 7, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  34. ^ a b c d e f "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  35. ^ http://www.statoids.com/ump.html Municipalities of Northern Mariana Islands. Statoids.com. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  36. ^ http://www.statoids.com/uas.html Districts of American Samoa. Statoids.com. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  37. ^ https://www.britannica.com/place/Swains-Island Swains Island. Britannica.com. Retrieved July 7, 2018.

External links

Albemarle County, Virginia

Albemarle County is a county located in the Piedmont region of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its county seat is Charlottesville, which is an independent city and enclave entirely surrounded by the county. Albemarle County is part of the Charlottesville Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of Albemarle County was 98,970, more than triple the 1960 census count.

Albemarle County was created in 1744 from the western portion of Goochland County, though portions of Albemarle were later carved out to create other counties. Albemarle County was named in honor of Willem Anne van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle. However, its most famous inhabitant was Thomas Jefferson, who built his estate home, Monticello, in the county.

Alverno, Wisconsin

Alverno is an unincorporated community located in the town of Manitowoc Rapids, Manitowoc County, United States.

Augusta County, Virginia

Augusta County is a county located in the Shenandoah Valley on the western edge of the U.S. commonwealth of Virginia. It is the second-largest county in Virginia by total area, and it completely surrounds the independent cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. The county seat of Augusta is Staunton, although most of the administrative services have offices in neighboring Verona.

The county was created in 1738 from part of Orange County, and was named after Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. It was originally a huge area, but many parts of Augusta County were carved out to form other counties and several states, until the current border was finalized in 1790.

As of the 2010 census, the county population was 73,750, which represented an increase of more than 34 percent over the 1990 figure. Along with Staunton and Waynesboro, it forms the Staunton–Waynesboro, VA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Brenham, Texas

Brenham is a city in east-central Texas in Washington County, United States, with a population of 15,716 according to the 2010 U.S. census. It is the county seat of Washington County. Brenham is south of College Station, and about halfway between Houston and Austin approximately 70 miles (110 km) northwest of Houston, and about 90 miles (140 km) east of Austin.

Brenham is renowned as the heart of the bluebonnet region in Central Texas. The local chamber of commerce promotes the Bluebonnet Trails and offers free maps to guide visitors along the most scenic wildflower routes, which also pass historic sites and attractions.

Washington County is known as the "Birthplace of Texas," as it contains the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836 in the town of Washington-on-the-Brazos. This is now a state historic site.

Brenham is also known for its annual German heritage festival that takes place each May called Maifest, similar to Volksfest. Numerous German immigrants settled here in the mid-nineteenth century, following the Revolutions in German states in 1848.

Brenham is also the Home of "The World's Largest BBQ Pit" on 290 West.

Colby Fire

The Colby Fire was a wildfire in the Angeles National Forest. It was ignited along the Colby Truck Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains in northern Los Angeles County, United States. The fire started on January 16, 2014 and eventually burned 1,992 acres. On January 25, the Colby Fire had burned 1,962 acres, and was 98% contained. The fire, which was fanned by strong Santa Ana winds, destroyed 5 homes, injured one person, and forced the evacuation of 3,600 people at its peak.Three men in their early 20s were arrested for recklessly starting a fire, and have allegedly admitted starting an illegal campfire that blew out of control. They will face federal charges of unlawfully causing timber to burn. Bail has been set at $500,000 for each of them "due to the seriousness of the crime, as well as the high cost of damaged property and resources to fight the fire." One of the men, a transient, has been placed in a residential drug treatment facility. Two of the homeless men were convicted of lighting and failing to control an illegal campfire; the third person is scheduled to go to trial later in 2014.January fires are unusual in Southern California, but there was little rainfall in the area leading up to the fire, which led to a "red flag" fire danger situation. Warm temperatures, low humidity, and an excess of dry brush in the foothills around Glendora (which had not burned significantly since the 1960s) encouraged the growth of the fire.

Fairview Beach, Wisconsin

Fairview Beach is an unincorporated community in the town of Oshkosh, Winnebago County, United States.

Granite Quarry, Wisconsin

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Hopokoekau Beach, Wisconsin

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John H. Guyer High School

John H. Guyer High School is a public high school situated in the city of Denton, Texas, in Denton County, United States and classified as a 6A school by the UIL. It is a part of the Denton Independent School District located in central Denton County. This was the third high school built by the district and was opened in 2005. In 2013, the school was rated "Academically Acceptable" by the Texas Education Agency.The school's namesake was a former principal at Denton High School who later served as assistant to the Denton ISD Superintendent. Initially, officials of Denton ISD expected Guyer to be slow to grow, but those thoughts were soon disproved by the flood of transfers from other high schools in the area to Guyer. This unexpected influx of students made it necessary to add twelve portable classrooms to the original school.

Laudolff Beach, Wisconsin

Laudolff Beach is an unincorporated community in the town of Calumet, Fond du Lac County, United States.

List of United States Post Offices

This is a List of United States Post Offices that are individually notable and that have operated under the authority of the United States Post Office Department (1792–1971) or of the United States Postal Service (since 1971). Notable U.S. Post Offices include individual buildings, whether still in service or not, which have architectural or community-related significance. Many of these are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and/or state and local historic registers.

Minawa Beach, Wisconsin

Minawa Beach is an unincorporated community in the town of Taycheddah, Fond du Lac County, United States.

Moolack Beach

Moolack Beach (also Moolack Shores) is an undeveloped sandy beach on the Oregon Coast about 4 miles (6 km) north of Newport in Lincoln County, United States. It is almost 8 km (5 mi) in length with the south end at Yaquina Head and the north end at Otter Rock, the site of Devils Punch Bowl State Natural Area. The northern beach is the site of Beverly Beach State Park and the community of Beverly Beach. The beach has no obvious break delineating what would seem to be Beverly Beach, though Wade Creek is a likely candidate. The nearly ten foot (3 m) tidal range and seasonally-varying slope of the beach can cause the sandy beach to completely disappear at times; at other times it can be hundreds of feet wide. The beach is bounded by U.S. Route 101.

The name is from a Chinook Jargon word for "elk". The area is rich with geologic history.

Oley, Pennsylvania

Oley (also called Friedensburg) is a census-designated place (CDP) in northern Oley Township, Berks County, United States, located along Routes 73 and 662. The entire township is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Little Manatawny Creek flows SE through Oley into the Manatawny Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River. Berks Career and Technology Center has a campus in Oley serving eastern Berks County. Oley Valley High School and Reading Motorcycle Club are also located in Oley. The ZIP code of Oley is 19547. As of the 2010 census the population was 1,282 residents.

Texas High School

Texas High School is a public high school located in the city of Texarkana, Texas in Bowie County, United States. It is classified as a 5A school by the UIL. It is part of the Texarkana Independent School District located in extreme northeast Bowie County. In 2015, the school was rated "Met Standard" by the Texas Education Agency.

Tibbets, Wisconsin

Tibbets is an unincorporated community located in the town of Sugar Creek, Walworth County, United States.

Waterman Mountains

The Waterman Mountains are a low mountainous landform in Pima County, United States. Notable among the tree species is the elephant tree (Bursera microphylla) which species exhibits a contorted multi-furcate architecture; most of these froze in the cold winter of 2011. The Waterman Mountain range is in the Ironwood Forest National Monument.

The Waterman Mountains are not extensive, and merge into the southern section of the Silver Bell Mountains. The south of the range abuts the northwest of the northwest-southeast trending Roskruge Mountains. The highest point of the range is Waterman Peak at 3,808 feet (1,161 m).

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