History and Facts of United States Counties
Counties were among the earliest units of local government established in the Thirteen Colonies that would become the United States. The first colonial counties were established in Virginia in 1634. The other colonies established county governments shortly after Virginia.
Originally counties were placed so that a county seat would be no more than a day’s journey for everyone within the county borders. However, today more recent U.S. counties have no restrictions on size or population.
How many counties are there in the United States?
The U.S. is divided into 3,007 counties and 235 county equivalents, which vary greatly in size and population. Most counties and county equivalents were organized by 1970. Since then, most creations and changes have occurred in Alaska and Virginia.
The word county equivalents is used by the U.S. Census Bureau and is used to describe other local governments and geographic places are similar to but differs from most counties, but are called by different names.
Of the 235 other county equivalents, 100 county equivalents are in the territories outside the 50 states and District of Columbia. The county equivalents are categorized as follows:
135 county equivalents inside 50 States, which are as follows:
- Alaska: 19 Boroughs and 11 Census Areas (for areas not organized into Boroughs by the State)
- Louisiana: 64 Parishes
- Maryland: 1 Independent City
- Missouri: 1 Independent City
- Nevada: 1 Independent City
- Virginia: 39 Independent Cities
- District of Columbia: 1 District – the Federal District or District of Columbia.
100 county equivalents outside 50 States, which are as follows:
- Puerto Rico: 78 Municipalities
- US Virgin Islands: 2 Districts
- Guam: 9 Election Districts
- Northern Mariana Islands: 17 Districts
- American Samoa: 5 Districts
List of States and Counties
|State||Counties||Created||Statehood||Order of Statehood||Capital||2019 Population Est.|
|Alabama||67||03 Mar 1817||14 Dec 1819||22||Montgomery||4,888,949|
|Alaska||27||24 Aug 1912||03 Jan 1959||49||Juneau||738,068|
|Arizona||15||24 Feb 1863||14 Feb 1912||48||Phoenix||7,123,898|
|Arkansas||75||02 Mar 1819||15 Jun 1836||25||Little Rock||3,020,327|
|California||58||09 Sep 1850||31||Sacramento||39,776,830|
|Colorado||64||28 Feb 1861||01 Aug 1876||38||Denver||5,684,203|
|Connecticut||8||03 Mar 1636||09 Jan 1788||5||Hartford||3,588,683|
|Delaware||3||24 May 1664||07 Dec 1787||1||Dover||971,180|
|Florida||67||30 Mar 1822||03 Mar 1845||27||Tallahassee||21,312,211|
|Georgia||159||21 Apr 1732||02 Jan 1788||4||Atlanta||10,545,138|
|Hawaii||5||12 Aug 1898||21 Aug 1959||50||Honolulu||1,426,393|
|Idaho||44||03 Mar 1863||03 Jul 1890||43||Boise||1,753,860|
|Illinois||102||01 Mar 1809||03 Dec 1818||21||Springfield||12,768,320|
|Indiana||92||07 May 1800||11 Dec 1816||19||Indianapolis||6,699,629|
|Iowa||99||04 Jul 1838||28 Dec 1846||29||Des Moines||3,160,553|
|Kansas||105||30 May 1854||29 Jan 1861||34||Topeka||2,918,515|
|Kentucky||120||31 Dec 1776||01 Jun 1792||15||Frankfort||4,472,265|
|Louisiana||64||01 Oct 1804||30 Apr 1812||18||Baton Rouge||4,682,509|
|Maine||16||25 Oct 1780||15 Mar 1820||23||Augusta||1,341,582|
|Maryland||24||24 May 2019||28 Apr 1788||7||Annapolis||6,079,602|
|Massachusetts||14||07 Oct 1691||06 Feb 1788||6||Boston||6,895,917|
|Michigan||83||30 Jun 1805||26 Jan 1837||26||Lansing||9,991,177|
|Minnesota||87||03 Mar 1849||11 May 1858||32||St. Paul||5,628,162|
|Mississippi||82||07 Apr 1798||10 Dec 1817||20||Jackson||2,982,785|
|Missouri||115||04 Jun 1812||10 Aug 1821||24||Jefferson City||6,135,888|
|Montana||56||26 May 1864||08 Nov 1889||41||Helena||1,062,330|
|Nebraska||93||30 May 1854||01 Mar 1867||37||Lincoln||1,932,549|
|Nevada||17||02 Mar 1861||31 Oct 1864||36||Carson City||3,056,824|
|New Hampshire||10||24 May 2019||21 Jun 1788||9||Concord||1,350,575|
|New Jersey||21||24 May 1664||18 Dec 1787||3||Trenton||9,032,872|
|New Mexico||33||09 Sep 1850||06 Jan 1912||47||Santa Fe||2,090,708|
|New York||62||24 May 1664||26 Jul 1788||11||Albany||19,862,512|
|North Carolina||100||24 May 2019||21 Nov 1789||12||Raleigh||10,390,149|
|North Dakota||53||02 Mar 1861||02 Nov 1889||39||Bismarck||755,238|
|Ohio||88||24 May 1787||01 Mar 1803||17||Columbus||11,694,664|
|Oklahoma||77||02 May 1890||16 Nov 1907||46||Oklahoma City||3,940,521|
|Oregon||36||14 Aug 1848||14 Feb 1859||33||Salem||4,199,563|
|Pennsylvania||67||04 Mar 1681||12 Dec 1787||2||Harrisburg||12,823,989|
|Rhode Island||5||24 May 2019||29 May 1790||13||Providence||1,061,712|
|South Carolina||46||24 May 2019||23 May 1788||8||Columbia||5,088,916|
|South Dakota||66||02 Mar 1861||02 Nov 1889||40||Pierre||877,790|
|Tennessee||95||26 May 1790||01 Jun 1796||16||Nashville||6,782,564|
|Texas||254||02 Mar 1836||29 Dec 1845||28||Austin||28,704,330|
|Utah||29||09 Sep 1850||04 Jan 1896||45||Salt Lake City||3,159,345|
|Vermont||14||01 Jan 1777||04 Mar 1791||14||Montpelier||623,960|
|Virginia||134||24 May 2019||25 Jun 1788||10||Richmond||8,525,660|
|Washington||39||02 Mar 1853||11 Nov 1889||42||Olympia||7,530,552|
|West Virginia||55||25 Jun 1788||20 Jun 1863||35||Charleston||1,803,077|
|Wisconsin||72||03 Jul 1836||29 May 1848||30||Madison||5,818,049|
|Wyoming||23||25 Jul 1868||10 Jul 1890||44||Cheyenne||573,720|
U.S. County Fun Facts
Newest / Oldest Counties
What is the oldest County in the U.S.?
- Virginia: 1634
- Maryland: 1637
- Massachusetts: 1643
What is the newest County in the U.S.?
- Colorado: 2001 – consolidated city-county of Broomfield
What State has the fewest number of Counties?
Delaware which has 3 counties. Hawaii is second with 5 counties.
What State has the most number of Counties?
Texas which has 254 counties.
Number of Counties and Parishes in Early Censuses
- 1790: 292 Counties
- 1850: 1,621 Counties
- 1870: 2,247 Counties
- 1900: 2,713 Counties
- 1920 3,041 Counties
The totals do not include county equivalents or independent cities
What is the smallest County in the U.S.?
Arlington County, Virginia with an land area of 26 Square miles
What is the largest County in the U.S.?
North Slope Borough, Alaska with an land area of 87,860 square miles.
Counties with populations under 50,000 accounted for nearly three-fourths of all county governments in 2000.
What is the least populated County in the U.S.?
Loving County, Texas, with a population of 67 people.
What is the most populated County in the U.S.?
Los Angeles County, California with a population of 9,519,338 people
In addition to the 3,007 counties, there are 33 city-county governments (i.e., cities that have consolidated government functions with their surrounding counties).