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History and Facts of United States Counties
Counties were among the earliest units of local government established in the 13 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||Statehood||Order of Statehood||Capital||2019 Population Est.|
|Alabama||67||14 Dec 1819||22||Montgomery||4,888,949|
|Alaska||27||03 Jan 1959||49||Juneau||738,068|
|Arizona||15||14 Feb 1912||48||Phoenix||7,123,898|
|Arkansas||75||15 Jun 1836||25||Little Rock||3,020,327|
|California||58||09 Sep 1850||31||Sacramento||39,776,830|
|Colorado||64||01 Aug 1876||38||Denver||5,684,203|
|Connecticut||8||09 Jan 1788||5||Hartford||3,588,683|
|Delaware||3||07 Dec 1787||1||Dover||971,180|
|Florida||67||03 Mar 1845||27||Tallahassee||21,312,211|
|Georgia||159||02 Jan 1788||4||Atlanta||10,545,138|
|Hawaii||5||21 Aug 1959||50||Honolulu||1,426,393|
|Idaho||44||03 Jul 1890||43||Boise||1,753,860|
|Illinois||102||03 Dec 1818||21||Springfield||12,768,320|
|Indiana||92||11 Dec 1816||19||Indianapolis||6,699,629|
|Iowa||99||28 Dec 1846||29||Des Moines||3,160,553|
|Kansas||105||29 Jan 1861||34||Topeka||2,918,515|
|Kentucky||120||01 Jun 1792||15||Frankfort||4,472,265|
|Louisiana||64||30 Apr 1812||18||Baton Rouge||4,682,509|
|Maine||16||15 Mar 1820||23||Augusta||1,341,582|
|Maryland||24||28 Apr 1788||7||Annapolis||6,079,602|
|Massachusetts||14||06 Feb 1788||6||Boston||6,895,917|
|Michigan||83||26 Jan 1837||26||Lansing||9,991,177|
|Minnesota||87||11 May 1858||32||St. Paul||5,628,162|
|Mississippi||82||10 Dec 1817||20||Jackson||2,982,785|
|Missouri||115||10 Aug 1821||24||Jefferson City||6,135,888|
|Montana||56||08 Nov 1889||41||Helena||1,062,330|
|Nebraska||93||01 Mar 1867||37||Lincoln||1,932,549|
|Nevada||17||31 Oct 1864||36||Carson City||3,056,824|
|New Hampshire||10||21 Jun 1788||9||Concord||1,350,575|
|New Jersey||21||18 Dec 1787||3||Trenton||9,032,872|
|New Mexico||33||06 Jan 1912||47||Santa Fe||2,090,708|
|New York||62||26 Jul 1788||11||Albany||19,862,512|
|North Carolina||100||21 Nov 1789||12||Raleigh||10,390,149|
|North Dakota||53||02 Nov 1889||39||Bismarck||755,238|
|Ohio||88||01 Mar 1803||17||Columbus||11,694,664|
|Oklahoma||77||16 Nov 1907||46||Oklahoma City||3,940,521|
|Oregon||36||14 Feb 1859||33||Salem||4,199,563|
|Pennsylvania||67||12 Dec 1787||2||Harrisburg||12,823,989|
|Rhode Island||5||29 May 1790||13||Providence||1,061,712|
|South Carolina||46||23 May 1788||8||Columbia||5,088,916|
|South Dakota||66||02 Nov 1889||40||Pierre||877,790|
|Tennessee||95||01 Jun 1796||16||Nashville||6,782,564|
|Texas||254||29 Dec 1845||28||Austin||28,704,330|
|Utah||29||04 Jan 1896||45||Salt Lake City||3,159,345|
|Vermont||14||04 Mar 1791||14||Montpelier||623,960|
|Virginia||134||25 Jun 1788||10||Richmond||8,525,660|
|Washington||39||11 Nov 1889||42||Olympia||7,530,552|
|West Virginia||55||20 Jun 1863||35||Charleston||1,803,077|
|Wisconsin||72||29 May 1848||30||Madison||5,818,049|
|Wyoming||23||10 Jul 1890||44||Cheyenne||573,720|
U.S. County Fun Facts
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).
Newest / Oldest Counties
What is the oldest County in the U.S.?
What is the newest County in the U.S.?
- Colorado: 2001 – consolidated city-county of Broomfield
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