Half of the U.S. lives in these 146 counties - is yours one of them?

Illustration for article titled Half of the U.S. lives in these 146 counties - is yours one of them?

Using publicly available Census data, Business Insider's Walter Hickey and Joe Weisenthal have deduced that over half of America's population is localized to a mere 146 of the 3,144 U.S. counties and county-equivalents.


Map via Business Insider

Of course, some counties contain way more people per square mile than others, and some counties are gargantuan, while others are small. At only around 13 square miles, Hawaii's Kalawao County is the smallest. San Bernardino County (the hugest, honking-est blue county in California in the map up top) is technically the largest county proper, with a land area of 20,052.5 square miles – but things get interesting if you include Alaska's boroughs and census areas, which serve as county equivalents for the purposes of the U.S. Census. In that case, the award for largest county unquestionably goes to the Yokon-Koyukuk Census Area, which has a land area of over 145,000 square miles. For a sense of scale, that's more than the total land area of Germany.

These are all factors that affect what Hickey and Weisenthal were ultimately interested in: the total number of people per county. On a county-by-county basis that may not sound terribly interesting, but when you color in all 146 of them, the leftover regions turn out to be a stark sea of grey – a landmass that, collectively, sports a population density that is positively dwarfed by its blue-hued counterpart.

Did your county make the list? Listed below is the full list of all 146. And just for fun, we've thrown in the 50 most densely populated counties in the U.S., along with the 50 least densely populated counties (remember: density is a different metric than total number). While we're on the subject, here's the Wikipedia page on U.S. county statistics.

We'd be very curious to see an animation depicting how this population distribution has shifted over time, or a map that shades in the counties making up 60%, 75%, or 90% of the population; looking at this map, one can't help but wonder just how sparsely populated Rural America really is.

The 146 Most Populous Counties

Los Angeles County, CA
Cook County, IL
Harris County, TX
Maricopa County, AZ
San Diego County, CA
Orange County, CA
Miami-Dade County, FL
Kings County, NY
Dallas County, TX
Queens County, NY
Riverside County, CA
San Bernardino County, CA
King County, WA
Clark County, NV
Tarrant County, TX
Santa Clara County, CA
Broward County, FL
Wayne County, MI
Bexar County, TX
New York County, NY
Alameda County, CA
Philadelphia County, PA
Middlesex County, MA
Suffolk County, NY
Sacramento County, CA
Bronx County, NY
Palm Beach County, FL
Nassau County, NY
Hillsborough County, FL
Cuyahoga County, OH
Allegheny County, PA
Oakland County, MI
Orange County, FL
Franklin County, OH
Hennepin County, MN
Fairfax County, VA
Travis County, TX
Contra Costa County, CA
Salt Lake County, UT
Montgomery County, MD
St. Louis County, MO
Pima County, AZ
Fulton County, GA
Honolulu County, HI
Mecklenburg County, NC
Westchester County, NY
Milwaukee County, WI
Wake County, NC
Fresno County, CA
Shelby County, TN
Fairfield County, CT
DuPage County, IL
Pinellas County, FL
Erie County, NY
Marion County, IN
Bergen County, NJ
Hartford County, CT
Prince George's County, MD
Duval County, FL
New Haven County, CT
Kern County, CA
Macomb County, MI
Gwinnett County, GA
Ventura County, CA
Collin County, TX
El Paso County, TX
San Francisco County, CA
Middlesex County, NJ
Baltimore County, MD
Pierce County, WA
Montgomery County, PA
Hidalgo County, TX
Worcester County, MA
Hamilton County, OH
Essex County, NJ
Multnomah County, OR
Essex County, MA
Jefferson County, KY
Monroe County, NY
Suffolk County, MA
Oklahoma County, OK
San Mateo County, CA
Snohomish County, WA
Cobb County, GA
Denton County, TX
DeKalb County, GA
San Joaquin County, CA
Lake County, IL
Will County, IL
Norfolk County, MA
Jackson County, MO
Bernalillo County, NM
Jefferson County, AL
Hudson County, NJ
Davidson County, TN
Lee County, FL
El Paso County, CO
Denver County, CO
District of Columbia, DC
Monmouth County, NJ
Providence County, RI
Fort Bend County, TX
Bucks County, PA
Baltimore city, MD
Polk County, FL
Kent County, MI
Tulsa County, OK
Arapahoe County, CO
Ocean County, NJ
Delaware County, PA
Johnson County, KS
Bristol County, MA
Anne Arundel County, MD
Washington County, OR
Brevard County, FL
New Castle County, DE
Jefferson County, CO
Union County, NJ
Summit County, OH
Utah County, UT
Montgomery County, OH
Douglas County, NE
Lancaster County, PA
Kane County, IL
Stanislaus County, CA
Ramsey County, MN
Camden County, NJ
Chester County, PA
Sedgwick County, KS
Dane County, WI
Passaic County, NJ
Guilford County, NC
Plymouth County, MA
Morris County, NJ
Volusia County, FL
Lake County, IN
Sonoma County, CA
Montgomery County, TX
Spokane County, WA
Richmond County, NY
Pasco County, FL
Greenville County, SC
Onondaga County, NY
Hampden County, MA
Adams County, CO
Williamson County, TX



50 Most Densely Populated Counties

RankCounty namePop/km2Pop/mile2
1New York County, New York (Manhattan Borough)25,845.7166,940.07
2Kings County, New York (Brooklyn Borough)13,481.3934,916.64
3Bronx County, New York (The Bronx Borough)12,243.0431,709.34
4Queens County, New York (Queens Borough)7,879.9520,408.98
5City and County of San Francisco, California6,422.5716,634.37
6Hudson County, New Jersey5,036.1713,043.62
7Suffolk County, Massachusetts4,551.5111,788.35
8Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania4,337.3211,233.61
9Washington, D.C.3,597.099,316.43
10City of Alexandria, Virginia3,263.338,451.99
11City of Baltimore, Maryland3,111.368,058.40
12Richmond County, New York (Staten Island Borough)2,929.697,587.86
13Arlington County, Virginia2,827.547,323.30
14Essex County, New Jersey2,426.796,285.36
15Cook County, Illinois2,195.215,685.58
16City of Saint Louis, Missouri2,171.005,622.87
17City of Falls Church, Virginia2,017.695,225.79
18Union County, New Jersey1,953.305,059.01
19Nassau County, New York1,797.294,654.97
20City of Charlottesville, Virginia1,694.894,389.74
21City of Norfolk, Virginia1,684.474,362.76
22City of Manassas Park, Virginia1,594.234,129.03
23Milwaukee County, Wisconsin1,502.733,892.06
24Bergen County, New Jersey1,457.743,775.52
25City and County of Denver, Colorado1,396.453,616.78
26Orange County, California1,392.143,605.62
27City of Manassas, Virginia1,365.643,536.98
28City of Fairfax, Virginia1,315.413,406.91
29Wayne County, Michigan1,295.803,356.11
30City of Richmond, Virginia1,271.303,292.64
31Pinellas County, Florida1,271.043,291.99
32Ramsey County, Minnesota1,266.633,280.55
33Cuyahoga County, Ohio1,173.893,040.37
34City of Portsmouth, Virginia1,170.923,032.68
35Delaware County, Pennsylvania1,154.602,990.41
36City of Hampton, Virginia1,091.892,827.99
37City of Lexington, Virginia1,063.242,753.78
38DuPage County, Illinois1,046.442,710.27
39Orleans Parish, Louisiana1,036.432,684.34
40Passaic County, New Jersey1,019.062,639.34
41City of Newport News, Virginia1,018.482,637.85
42City of Winchester, Virginia975.552,526.66
43Dallas County, Texas973.992,522.63
44DeKalb County, Georgia958.562,482.67
45Fairfax County, Virginia947.802,454.78
46Middlesex County, New Jersey935.172,422.07
47Los Angeles County, California905.092,344.16
48City of Harrisonburg, Virginia889.732,304.38
49Camden County, New Jersey883.952,289.41
50City of Colonial Heights, Virginia872.702,260.28



50 Least Densely Populated Counties

RankCounty namePop/km2Pop/mile2
1Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska0.01730.0449
2Lake and Peninsula Borough, Alaska0.02960.0767
3North Slope Borough, Alaska0.03210.0831
4Loving County, Texas0.03840.0995
5Yakutat City and Borough, Alaska0.04080.1056
6Denali Borough, Alaska0.05730.1485
7Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska0.07750.2008
8Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, Alaska0.09610.2488
9Dillingham Census Area, Alaska0.10180.2636
10Esmeralda County, Nevada0.10450.2706
11Garfield County, Montana0.10580.2740
12Kenedy County, Texas0.10970.2842
13Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Alaska0.11470.2971
14Petroleum County, Montana0.11510.2981
15Harding County, New Mexico0.14710.3811
16Aleutians East Borough, Alaska0.14900.3859
17King County, Texas0.15070.3902
18Lincoln County, Nevada0.15120.3917
19Bethel Census Area, Alaska0.15210.3939
20Eureka County, Nevada0.15270.3954
21Nome Census Area, Alaska0.15440.3998
22Carter County, Montana0.15720.4072
23Wade Hampton Census Area, Alaska0.15780.4088
24Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon Census Area, Alaska0.16800.4351
25Terrell County, Texas0.17700.4585
26Harding County, South Dakota0.19560.5066
27Catron County, New Mexico0.19750.5114
28Powder River County, Montana0.21760.5635
29Clark County, Idaho0.22360.5792
30McPherson County, Nebraska0.23960.6205
31Arthur County, Nebraska0.23960.6207
32Slope County, North Dakota0.24310.6298
33Prairie County, Montana0.26660.6904
34Hinsdale County, Colorado0.27290.7068
35Sioux County, Nebraska0.27560.7137
36Hudspeth County, Texas0.28250.7316
37McCone County, Montana0.28890.7481
38Harney County, Oregon0.28990.7508
39McMullen County, Texas0.29520.7646
40Billings County, North Dakota0.29780.7712
41Culberson County, Texas0.30130.7803
42Meagher County, Montana0.31190.8078
43Borden County, Texas0.31320.8111
44Blaine County, Nebraska0.31670.8203
45Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area, Alaska0.32320.8294
46Treasure County, Montana0.33960.8796
47Custer County, Idaho0.34040.8815
48Golden Valley County, Montana0.34230.8866
49Phillips County, Montana0.34560.8952
50Wheeler County, Oregon0.34830.9021



I'm in Los Angeles county, and if that's only #47, I feel bad for the even more densely populated ones, because it sure feels crowded here.