How Many Counties Are in the United States?

Map detailing the counties of the US.
Map detailing the counties of the US.

Counties in the US refer to regions within a state with their distinct boundaries and some form of official authority. States such as Alaska and Louisiana have county equivalents that have the same level of power as counties. Counties in the US number 3,007 while county equivalents number 135 all totalling to 3,142. The state of Delaware has the least number of counties at three while Texas has 254. Counties have existed in the US since its earliest days with Virginia being the first state to establish counties. The counties were founded to reduce the administrative workload for the state administration.

Popular County Names in the US

Washington County

Named after the first president of the US, Washington County is the most popular county name with 30 counties and one parish sharing the name. In Alabama, Washington County has a population of about 16,531 people and an area of 1,089 square miles. The county was established in 1800 making it one of the oldest counties. Washington Parish in the state of Louisiana was established in the 1819 and covers an area of about 676 square miles. The parish is the only county equivalent in the US to bear the name of George Washington. The first county in the US to be named after George Washington was in the state of Maryland and has an estimated population of about 150,578 people.

Jefferson County

26 counties and one parish are named after the third president of the US Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was a prominent figure in the initial days of the US and the chief writer of the US declaration of independence. In Alabama, Jefferson County with an estimated population of 659,197, has the highest population among all the counties. The county was established in 1819 and covers an area of about 1,119 square miles. Jefferson Parish in the state of Louisiana was established in 1825 and has a population of approximately 436,275. The only county with a higher population in Louisiana is East Baton Rouge Parish. The county was affected by Hurricane Katrina but has managed to rebuild itself.

Franklin County

Franklin County is the name of 24 counties and one county equivalent. The name Franklin does not refer to any president, which makes it the more common county name not associated with any president. Franklin Parish in Louisiana was named in honor of the inventor Benjamin Franklin. The parish has an estimated population of about 20,410 people living in an area that covers 635 square miles. In the state of Alabama, Franklin County covers an area of approximately 647 square miles. The largest city in the county is Russellville which is also the administrative center.

Largest Counties By Population

Los Angeles County

The county of Los Angeles in California is the largest regarding population having about 10.16 million residents as of 2017. In comparison its population is larger than at least 41 states in the country. The economy of the Los Angeles County is the world’s third largest economy having a GDP of more than $700 billion, which is larger than the GDP of countries such as Norway, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and even Belgium. The county of Los Angeles has 88 incorporated cities and several other urban centers. The metropolitan area of the county cover an area of about 4,083 square miles which is greater than areas of the state of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Other Large Counties

Other large counties in terms of population includes the Cook County in Illinois having a population of 5.21 million people, Harris County in Texas having a population of 4.65 million people, and Maricopa County in Arizona having a population of 31 million people.


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